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The Emperor Jones
Ron Fimrite
April 11, 1994
BOBBY JONES'S REIGN OVER GOLF FROM 1923 TO 1930 WAS ABSOLUTE, BUT HE PROVED JUST AS MASTERLY OFF THE COURSE AS HE WAS ON IT
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April 11, 1994

The Emperor Jones

BOBBY JONES'S REIGN OVER GOLF FROM 1923 TO 1930 WAS ABSOLUTE, BUT HE PROVED JUST AS MASTERLY OFF THE COURSE AS HE WAS ON IT

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In 1936 Jones and a party of friends were staying in Scotland on their way to the Olympic Games in Berlin. Jones could not resist playing at least one round at the Old Course, so his group stopped off at St. Andrews. To his astonishment, word of his arrival had leaked out, and a crowd of 2,000 or more appeared on the 1st tee to catch a glimpse of him. Jones had been retired for six years and, by his own admission, "had been playing dreadful golf." Fearing that the crowd had come in hopes of seeing the Bobby Jones they remembered, he said to himself as he approached the 1st tee, "This is a terrible thing to do to my friends."

But his tee shot was long and true. He parred the 1st hole and birdied three of the next five as the adoring crowd increased to nearly 4,000. Jones felt a familiar rush of emotion. He knew that at least this one time, he could bring back the old magic. He strode the nearly sacred course with authority, "like an archbishop at a parish picnic," wrote Price.

At the 8th hole, a 178-yard par-3 with the green tucked behind a bunker, Jones, exhilarated by the crowd and the unexpected restoration of his game, determined to go for broke rather than play safe. He snatched a four-iron from his bag, teed up the ball and hit a shot that cleared the bunker and rolled not six feet from the flag. As the crowd cheered, Jones's caddie, a young man of no more than 20, stared at him in frank amazement. He said nothing for a moment as Jones, near tears himself, replaced the club in his bag. And then the caddie could hold his tongue no longer.

"Aye, you're a wonder, sir," he whispered. "A blooming wonder."

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