An employee of
the No-Sag Springs Division of the Lear-Siegler Corp. at the time of those
first two tournaments, No-Sag Bob, 37, of Ferndale, Mich., has since changed
jobs, moving to the Republic Steel Corp., where he works as a salesman. But
Republic Bob doesn't have quite the ring of No-Sag Bob, so the new handle
hasn't caught on. No-Sag is a wide-shouldered, mustachioed, unpretentious
fellow who took up golf at age 29. Possessed of a rocketing drive, his short
game—irons and putter—needs a lot of work, as he's the first to admit.
"I'll have a hard time defending the title," he allowed the night
before the tournament. He warily eyed the other Bob Joneses milling about the
bar of the Ramada Inn at Southfield during the traditional pre-match,
pay-for-your-own cocktail party. "I hear there's a real Bobby Jones here
from down south somewhere. Indiana?"
enough—Indiana Jones, Raider of the Lost Par! He proved to be a tall,
putter-slim, dark-haired man of 43 with calm blue-gray eyes that seemed to
match, in both color and confidence, those of The Great B.J. himself.
"Yep," he said. "I'm a five handicap and I play a lot of golf. I
grew up a seven-iron shot from a golf course in Union Mills, Ind., where I'm a
general contractor for the firm of Tonn & Blank. Actually I'm what you'd
call a mechanical design engineer—at least that's what the degree reads that
they give me from college. Here's my card."
Deadpan, he hands
it over. Beside a drawing of a golfer in midswing who closely resembles Indiana
himself, the text on the card reads:
"Due to the
fact that I will be knocking off around noon to play golf, I won't have time to
call on you again this summer. Please mail your orders to my attention. I will
be around again in the fall, kissing your ass as usual."
Yes, indeed, a
dedicated linksman. Indiana and his wife, Sandy, had driven the 260 miles from
Union Mills to Tyrone Hills and the following day would drive right back to
play together in another match down home.
At the cocktail
party, it was rather eerie to be standing in the midst of a group of men who
all bore my name. Despite the disparity in our ages, looks and occupations, I
found a number of things we all had in common. First and foremost was a
distaste, if not an outright hatred, for the name Bobby. The Great Man himself
shared this repugnance: He absolutely insisted on being called Bob by his
family and friends. The despicable diminutive had been pinned on him by the
British sporting press, which labeled him Bonnie Bobby during his first
appearance in Great Britain in 1921. When Jones's infamous bad temper made
itself evident—he was an inveterate club thrower—the Bonnie past was quickly
A close runnerup
at the party to Bobby in the What-We-All-Hate-About-Being-Named-Bob-Jones
handicap was the equally cheesy appellation Jonesy, a nomenclatural cross all
members of our clan, regardless of sex or given name, must bear. "It's too
damned cute," said Bear Mountain Bob, a burly B.J. from Vermont. "But
what can you do? People mean well when they call you Jonesy, so you can't very
well punch 'em out."
present also could do without the banalities attached to the name. We're tired
of all you Smiths and Greens and McGillicuddys keeping up with us, sick unto
death—the boys, at least—of having the whole town talkin' about us. And there's
no need to tell us, as Irving Berlin so stridently insisted during World War
II, that "This is the Army, Mr. Jones." After all, it's more than 200
years since an illustrious, military Jones told the captain of the British
frigate Serapis that "I have not yet begun to fight."
And while we're
on the subject of calumny and clichés, all Joneses worthy of the name resent
the common belief that theirs is the commonest surname in America. Not by a
long shot! That honor belongs to those unfortunate enough to be named Smith.
Indeed, Jones is only the fourth most common name in this sweet land of
liberty. There are many more Johnsons and Williamses than there are
Toward the end of
the cocktail party, I found myself talking to Gretchen Jones, the wife of
Greenbaum Bob, whose maiden name was Larsen. I decided it was a good time to
bring up Famous Joneses Through History and I ticked off a few of my favorites
for her: John Paul, Parnelli, Inigo, Jesse, Jennifer, Shirley, Carolyn, Buck,
Buffalo, James, Too Tall and Deacon.