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Indiana parred 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.
"It's not 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.