the 1st hole but birdied the 2nd with a drive straight as a string, a nifty,
lofting chip and a six-foot putt that dropped like the Lusitania. On the green,
he marked his ball with an Australian penny, which he showed to me: "This
way you don't lose your marker, see? People think it's a manhole cover." On
the front of the well-worn coin was an engraving of King George VI and on the
back, a kangaroo. "It's clearly marked, heads and tails," said Indiana
with a chuckle.
After a few more
holes I bade a fond farewell to that foursome and their threesome claque, as
their carts chugged on over the ridge to fame or disaster. (When I was a little
shaver and my proud dad introduced me to his friends as Bobby Jones, they
inevitably said, "You're going to be a great golfer, kiddo. With that name,
you can't fail!" Something in their voices, awe perhaps, led me to seek my
reputation elsewhere. Certainly not in golf.)
The next Joneses
to play through included one who was shooting a bright orange ball. This was
Toyota Bob from Hanover, Mass., a husky man of 37 who sells automobiles from
Japan in Bean Town. I first became aware of him when his gaudy missile hissed
over the green near which I stood and rolled down into the weeds on the far
side. He stomped up to it, muttered something inelegant under his breath, and
then knocked it back clear over the green.
"I love this
game," he told me. "Anybody got a beer?"
At the end of the
front nine, Indiana held the lead with a 38—two over the par 36 for that
portion of the route. Already it was past noon and the sun had long since
burned the cool from the course. Joneses staggered through the clubhouse,
drinking water and soda pop to replenish their vital fluids, and then forged
back out onto the links. And Toyota Bob had finally rounded up beer to go with
his bogeys. He attacked the back nine with fully 20 cans of suds on his
cart—some of it the payoff of a bet he'd made with Greenbaum Bob. It was
obvious that no one in this foursome would fall victim to the original Bobby
Jones's most invidious enemy, overdedication to the game.
At the 13th hole
I caught up with Computer Bob. Still neat and tidy in his white polo shirt,
reddish-orange pants and orange-rimmed visor, he seemed cheery and capable. He
drove well on that 492-yard hole, and huzzahs rang from his partners. His
second shot was well centered in the fairway, while his third took him to the
edge to the green. It was a par-5 hole, and his lightly powered chip from the
tall grass at the green's edge carried straight—a full 15 feet—to the rim of
the cup. There it spun and hung. Tapping it in for a par rather than a birdie,
Computer shot his Welsh eyebrows up and smiled joyfully.
golf that brings this group together," he said.
As it turned out,
Computer Bob—the Jones who brought us all together—shot the second best round
of his life that day. He finished the 18 with a gross of 84. Subtracting his
Callaway handicap of 12, he tied for second in the low-net category with a
final score of 72. Tied with him was First National Bob, a 66-year-old banker
from Kearny, N.J., who went out in 40, came back in 39 and ended up—less his
handicap of seven—with 72.
Low gross winner
was the intrepid Indiana, who improved his front nine 38 by one stroke to win
the biggest of the trophies—with a three-over-par 75. It presented no
difficulty, of course, to inscribe in advance the name of the winner on the
statuette's base. Subtracting Indiana's Callaway handicap of three brought him
down to 72.
Not quite enough
for a double title, though. Low net went to West Virginia Bob (another Robert
F., like me) whose raw 85 became 71 after subtraction of his 14-stroke
handicap. West Virginia Bob, 41 and a physical therapist, had quit work at 8
p.m. the night before and then driven 350 miles to play in the tournament. He
had to leave right after finishing to head back to Huntington for Sunday
morning church services.