(Editor's Note: This year marked the 80th anniversary of Bobby Jones winning golf's Grand Slam. He won the British Amateur, the Open in Great Britain, U.S. Open and the U.S. Amateur.
Knowing that 1930 might be his last chance to win all four major titles in one year, Jones started his preparation early. He entered two tournaments on the winter pro golf tour as tune-ups for his 1930 season. In February at the Savannah Open, he finished second, and, on April 1, Jones won the Southeastern Open by 13 strokes. Jones' performance astonished Scottish pro Bobby Cruickshank, who played in both events. "They'll never stop him this year," he said to O.B. "Pop" Keeler, a golf writer who was also Jones' confidant. Firm in his predictions, Cruickshank bet $1,200 with 50-1 odds Jones would win all four majors in 1930.)
(1) BRITISH AMATEUR (Final round on May 31, 1930)
Despite his successes in the 1920s, Bobby Jones fared poorly in the two British Amateurs is which he played, 1921 and 1926. He considered it to be the hardest title to win because of the format. He would have to win six straight, 18-hole matches at St Andrews to get to the 36-hole final. He always considered one round to be a poor test of championship golf.
Bobby enjoyed a bye in the first round and then easily won his first two matches on May 26 and 27. In the fourth round, he met Cyril Tolley, the defending Amateur champion. The evenly matched players were all square five times before reaching the 17th tied again. "A magnificent dogfight," the esteemed British golf writer Bernard Darwin said of the match.
The 17th -- the "Road Hole" -- played as a 466-yard, dogleg par-5 then. Approaching the green, a shot over the putting surface onto the adjacent road left a player facing bogey or worse. In front, the Road Bunker easily swallowed both golf balls and championship hopes. Both Jones and Tolley drove safely over the dogleg and found the fairway. Bobby was away, 200 yards from the hole. His approach landed near the bunker and then bounced into the gallery and off a man's chest into the greenside rough. Tolley left his second short of the bunker, and faced a difficult pitch to a flagstick hiding a few feet from the bunker's back edge. With an exquisite touch, Tolley lofted the ball over the hazard, stopping it within two feet of the hole.
With the tension robbing rhythm from his body, Jones stabbed at his chip. He left it eight feet short. He had to either make the putt, or go to the 18th 1-down, and then perhaps straight to the train station. Bobby holed the putt. After halving 18, Bobby won the match on the first extra hole.
Jones then faced American George Voight in the afternoon match. After a roller coaster match through 16 holes, they arrived at the Road Hole all square. Playing conservatively, Bobby hit his approach short of the green. A bit bolder, Voight went for the pin, but his ball rolled to back fringe. Both chipped on, Voight keenly to within 2 feet, Bobby fitfully to 12.
"It's do or die," Bobby said to himself as he circled the ball and hole. Bobby looked at the side hill break, calculating how much "borrow" he needed to counter it. He gauged it perfectly and made the putt. When Voight bogeyed 18, Bobby advanced to the finals.
Safely into a comfortable 36-hole match, a more relaxed Jones took on Roger Wethered in the final. He beat the Englishman 7 and 6 for the championship.
(2) THE OPEN (Final round on June 20, 1930)
Bobby pulled heavily on his cigarette as he walked toward the eighth green on the Royal Liverpool Golf Club, a course the Brits called Hoylake -- the name of the host links. A moment before, Jones had hit his 4-wood to a point 12 yards short of the par-5's green. Taking another drag, he studied the terrain. The green was up an incline from his ball, but it sloped from front to back. Anything played past the hole, cut 15 feet from the front, would run off the green in the back. A gallery of 10,000 grew quiet as Bobby threw the cigarette to the ground.
He was playing the final round of the 1930 Open on June 20, and was intent on matching his win in the British Amateur three weeks earlier. He was leading, but only because great putting had salvaged his otherwise erratic play for three days.
Perhaps thinking too much of his uneven game that week, Jones nervously chunked his chip. The ball landed short of the green, rolling back toward him a few feet. Still unwilling to play past the pin, Bobby tried again. The ball stopped 10 feet shy of the hole. Seething, he missed the putt and then angrily jabbed the ball at the cup. Missed again. He finally tapped in for a seven.
Bobby walked to the ninth tee in a confused daze. "I have just washed out the past three days," he thought. "I'm not looking at winning all four majors now." On the tee, Bobby couldn't even calculate what score he needed to make on the remaining holes to win. He pushed aside all thoughts of the other players. "Hit the ball the best you can," Bobby told himself.
Jones plodded through the tournament's last 10 holes. He played one shot at a time and kept his head clear of what-ifs. Good fortune prevailed and it appeared that a birdie on the par-5 16th might win Bobby the title. He flew the dogleg with a good drive and hit his 2-wood toward the green, 270 yards away. After rolling the last 30 yards over the hard fairway, his ball trickled into the bunker protecting the green's left front.
Finishing another cigarette, Bobby surveyed his downhill lie, the enormous bunker face, and the flagstick 60 feet across the green. To hit the ball, he had to stand with one foot outside the sand.
Along with a shower of sand, he sent the ball toward the hole. It grazed the edge and stopped two inches past. After his kick-in birdie, Jones touched his cap in response to the gallery's roar. Two down, two to go.
(3) U.S. OPEN (Final round on July 12, 1930)
Interlachen Country Club outside Minneapolis, Minn., hosted the 1930 U.S. Open. Bobby's two major titles in Britain generated huge interest in the tournament. CBS assigned sports announcer Ted Husing to carry a "knapsack" transmitter, allowing him to send live reports from the course. Print reporters attended by the hundreds, as thick as Minnesota's midsummer mosquitoes.
Jones shot a 1-under 71 in the first round on July 10. The temperature had soared to 96 degrees by the time he finished, and drenched with sweat, Jones had to have his friend Pop Keeler cut off his impossibly knotted necktie before showering.
Jones played smoothly the following day until arriving at the 485-yard, par-5 ninth. He hit his drive along the right side. With about 220 yards to the center of the green, Bobby chose to hit across a large pond instead of laying up. On his down swing, a young girl in the gallery moved and caught Bobby's eye. He flinched, hitting the ball thin. It skipped twice on the water's surface but landed on the far bank, 30 yards from the green. The gallery gasped in surprise. From there, Bobby pitched to within three feet of the hole and made his birdie putt. What would have been a sure 6 became a 4, two strokes he might need later. Long called the "Lily Pad" shot because some writers erroneously thought it skipped on a plant, the shot became part of the Bobby Jones legend.
On the final day, golfers played two 18-hole rounds, and Jones led the field by five strokes at the start of the afternoon round. Off to a horrid start, he posted a 2-over 38 on the front nine, but still led Mac Smith by three strokes. Bobby knew the back nine would determine the winner.
Standing on the tee of the monstrous, 262-yard, par-3 17th, the green looked like a postage stamp on the horizon. After slicing his tee shot into a marsh, a favorable ruling gave Jones a drop in the fairway after a penalty stroke. Relieved, Jones hit his third to the green and two-putted for a five. His lead over Mac Smith slipped to one stroke. The Lily Pad Shot grew in importance.
A nervous Bobby hit a poor drive on the par-4 18th. An equally tentative second shot left his ball 45 feet short of the hole. Most of the day's 15,000 spectators encircled the green. Jones barely maintained his composure. "In order to settle my nerves a bit, I walked up to the flag and went through the motions of looking over the putt with great care," he said later. "As I stepped up to the putt, I was quivering in every muscle." Bobby firmly stroked the putt. The ball had too much speed and had to find the hole to stay on the green. When it slammed into the back of the cup, the gallery erupted. Most tossed their hats in the air, settling around Bobby as so many straw prayer offerings. He had won by two strokes over Mac Smith.
Bobby Jones now had won three legs of what Keeler had started calling the Grand Slam. Pop said he borrowed the term from bridge, although clearing the bases in baseball also seemed appropriate.
(4) U.S. AMATEUR (Final round on Sept. 27, 1930)
Jones' quest for perfection transformed the 1930 U.S. Amateur into a major spectacle. The main billing went to the perfect American sports hero. The other players were just the chorus and supporting cast. Eighteen thousand members of the gallery formed an eager and boisterous audience. Dozens of attentive sportswriters and radio announcers filled the box seats.
Merion Cricket Club, located just outside Philadelphia, hosted the championship. Pop Keeler loved the destiny -- "Merion to Merion." The club was the site of Bob's first appearance on the national stage in 1916 as a 14-year-old and where he won his first U.S. Amateur in 1924. Using 50 telegraph lines in the press center, writers delivered drama to the public with 3,000,000 words of hype and ballyhoo.
Jones won the qualifying medal after shooting 69-73 -- 142 on Sept. 23. He breezed through the first two rounds, which were 18-hole matches. In the first 36-hole match, he beat Fay Coleman 6 and 5. Ten thousand people followed the match and rudely ignored other players. In the semifinals on Friday, Bobby defeated Jess Sweetser, 9 and 8.
In the 36-hole finals on Sept. 27, Jones played the quiet and bland Gene Homans, who many mistook for a minister skipping church. They teed off at 8:30 a.m., and a gallery swollen to 18,000 mobbed Merion to see if their Bobby could win the Grand Slam.
Loud movie cameras disturbed Homans on the early holes. But it was the pressure of being the last obstacle to Bobby's extraordinary feat that ultimately unhinged his swing. Homans' hesitancy, coupled with Bobby's great play, gave Jones a 7-up lead at lunch. Jones said he felt like a football player bursting through the line with nothing but grass ahead of him. The match began turning into a victory parade, but Bobby didn't act as if it were. With slumped shoulders, he was tired and worn out.
Owing more to Homans's mediocre play than to his own brilliance, Bobby was 9-up after the fourth hole, ordinarily a mortal lock. They halved holes five through eight as Bobby failed to muster the spark to win a hole. Homans added a little drama by winning number nine. They both made ugly double-bogey sixes on the 10th as if they were groggy fighters in the last round. Emotionally numb, Bobby walked to the 11th tee "dormie" -- holding an eight-hole lead and with only eight remaining. Both men hit the green in two; Bobby was away. With trembling hands, he laid his putt stone dead, inches from the cup.
The throng froze. Homans had to make his birdie putt to play another hole; a half would be the match. After briefly studying the line, he sent the ball on its way. As it passed the cup, Homans walked toward Bobby with his hand outstretched.
Sports historians easily rank Bobby's four straight wins as one of the era's finest achievements. Some even consider the Grand Slam as the 20th century's greatest sports feat.