Monday, 23 October 2017

Bobby Jones and Humility

When Bobby Jones and O.B. Keeler co-authored the wonderful book, Down the Fairway, Bobby had no idea that he was to go on to even grander things in the game of golf and do the unthinkable, winning the Grand Slam. But, even by then, Bobby had become a believer in fate; the notion that, somehow, the results of golf tournaments at least were in the cards before the first ball was even struck.

Bobby wrote about what he called "The Biggest Year," as I mentioned, not realizing that he was fated to have an even bigger one before it was time for him to step back from competing in national championships. The year was 1926. Bobby wrote:

    "Golf is a very queer game. I started the year 1926 with one glorious licking and closed it with another. And it was the biggest golf year I'll ever have (or so Bobby thought at the time). Walter Hagen gave me the first drubbing, and of all the workmanlike washings-up I have experienced, this was far and away the most complete. He was national professional champion; I was national amateur champion; we liked to play against each other; and a match was arranged for the late winter season in Florida; a 72-hole affair, the first half at the Whitfield Estates Country Club at Sarasota, where I was spending the winter, and the second half a week later at Walter's course at Pasadena. Walter was simply too good for me... Walter played the most invincible match golf in those two days I have ever seen, let alone confronted. And I may add that I can get along very comfortably if I never confront any more like it."

Bobby Jones, as anyone who knows me--or has spent any time perusing my scribblings-- can attest, is my golfing hero. To me, he was the ultimate golfer in terms of playing, understanding, and communicating to others how to play the game and get the most out if it. And I think the way Bobby chose to begin the chapter about what was, at least up until then, his greatest season speaks volumes about the man and his understanding of the game. It wasn't all about him. 

Sometimes you hear it suggested that great champions must be selfish, or self-absorbed, to a certain degree in order to become great champions. Bobby Jones proves that, at least in his case, this couldn't be further from the truth. Consider again how he began the chapter about his biggest year. He began it by reminding us that he had been well and truly beaten by Walter Hagen, crediting Hagen with having played the "most invincible match golf" he had ever seen. Instead of starting the chapter by talking about his own terrific play, Bobby admitted that he was given the drumming of a lifetime by Walter Hagen. That is humility. 

I was intending to delve further into this notion of fate and golf, as presented by Bobby Jones, but it's late and I think it's worth just considering how humble Bobby Jones was. Humility is a wonderful thing.


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