Bob4 ate countless meals with his grandfather in the sanctum, where for breakfast the elder Jones would have soft soft-boiled eggs he could raise with his fists and down almost like a shot of whiskey. On weekdays they watched Today as Jones prepared to go to work at his law firm. When he was ready, the grandson would wheel his grandfather into the Whitehall elevator, race down the mansion's grand steps and greet Bub when the doors opened on the first floor.
It was a segregated house owned by a man who lived his entire life in a segregated world. Guests and friends and visiting family members were white, and the Whitehall staff—the housekeepers, gardeners, nannies and cooks—were, over the decades, almost all black. Jones's chauffeur, Hoyt, was black. His full name was George Hoyt, but everybody, including the young grandson Bobby, called him Hoyt.
Hoyt was far more than Jones's chauffeur. He served the man, in his old age. At dinner, he took off his black chauffeur's suit and put on a white serving jacket. He bathed Jones and emptied his catheter. In his will, Jones forgave Hoyt the loans he had given him.
Dr. Jones tired years ago of hearing his grandfather described as a racist. Producers at ESPN, writers from The New York Times and SPORTS ILLUSTRATED—lots of people with megaphones have painted Augusta National (and by extension its founders) as a place (and people) clinging to separate but equal, with limited emphasis on the equal. Charles Barkley was more direct. In a 2002 ESPN interview, he said he was "tired of CBS telling me what a great guy Bobby Jones was—he was a racist." The main pieces of evidence are that the Masters didn't have a black player until Lee Elder qualified for the 1975 tournament and the club didn't have a black member until the Shoal Creek episode forced the issue in 1990. Also, if Jones ever helped black golfers trying to desegregate public courses in Atlanta in the 1950s, including one named for him, there's no record of it.
The fact is, Elder earned his spot by way of win-and-you're-in, which became law at Augusta in 1972, too late to help Pete Brown and Charlie Sifford, two excellent black golfers who won Tour events before that. In 1967, Sifford, now a Hall of Famer, won at Hartford and finished 25th on the money list but still did not meet any of the stated qualification requirements for an "invitation." (That's a misnomer, really—all U.S. players get in by way of qualifying marks, then and now.) In a 1968 letter cited in David Owen's The Making of the Masters, Jones wrote to Sifford saying he would be invited if he met the requirements and that "I for one would be particularly happy to see you realize this ambition." It's hard to imagine Jones wrote that sentence without meaning it.
There are published letters in which Jones displays elitist and snobbish traits, but none in which he exhibits anything like hatred based on race or religion or anything else. Jones, nominally a Southern Baptist, married a devout Catholic in a Catholic church and raised Catholic children in an era when anti-Catholic bias was prevalent in the South.
On the subject of race, Dr. Jones said his grandfather was a man of his time and place. "We ask too much of our athletes," Dr. Jones said. "He was not a trailblazer. The status quo had been good to him. He had no reason to want change. I'm sure he had mixed feelings about Martin Luther King Jr. He worried about rioting in Atlanta, not because of what it meant in terms of the staff getting to Tuxedo Road but for what it meant for the black businessmen at Peachtree and Sweet Auburn and in other black neighborhoods. I know he appreciated that King preached change through nonviolence. In Atlanta, at least, we had no violence." Asked why neither Roberts nor Jones invited an African-American to join their club, Dr. Jones said the idea probably never occurred to either of them.
The Jones-Roberts relationship was symbiotic in its early years, respectful in its middle ones and, as Dr. Jones understood it from his parents and grandparents, terribly strained in its final act. Dr. Jones tells an amusing story in which his mother shamed Roberts, a man not easily shamed, into making corn bread available at Augusta National, despite his objection to it. Durkee's Famous Sauce, the same. The subtext to these family stories is an antipathy rooted in competing Cliff-Bobby agendas.
"In the last 10 years of my grandfather's life, Cliff was accumulating power," Dr. Jones said. "In the mid-'60s, when my grandfather wanted my father named as club president, Cliff preempted him. He had the board name my grandfather President in Perpetuity. He despised that title. Cliff tried to get my father to resign from the club. He brought him into his office and berated him, in front of another member, and tried to get him to quit. The way Cliff Roberts treated my dad just frosted my grandfather."
Jones died on Dec. 18, 1971, at age 69. (He converted to Catholicism three days before his death, a comment not on his own spirituality but his desire to please his wife.) Roberts didn't attend the funeral. It was for family only. "But if he got his feelings hurt, my grandmother would have seen that as a fringe benefit," Dr. Jones said with a wry smile.