Top golfers that never had golf lessons – Bobby Jones

bobby jones

“In order to win, you must play your best golf when you need it most and play your sloppy stuff when you can afford it. I shall not attempt to explain how you achieve this happy timing.”Bobby Jones

By Ian Hardie

While writing the series of eight posts Do you really need golf lessons? a while back

You may recall that I ended up deciding that there are four basic types of golf lessons

That the bulk of golfers take or (more correctly) should be taking around the world

As I was researching for those posts, I also spent some time looking into

Some of the more unusual facets of the whole subject of golf lessons

One of the interesting paths that I went down was trying to find out about

Top golfers over the years that had reportedly never had a golf lesson

Which wasn’t as easy as you might think it would be

Due to the fact that the definition of exactly what a golf lesson is

Can mean different things to different people, which was something

That I experienced as a young apprentice golf professional many years ago

As the bulk of the progress that I made at improving my skills at the game of golf

Came through informal discussions in the back of the golf shop when it was quiet

Combined with a significant amount of time spent afterwards ‘putting it into practice’

Through what can only be described as a ‘trial and error’ method on the practice fairway

Meaning that there have been very few occasions that I have experienced a golf lesson

Although you can read about my first and probably most memorable one here if you want

When you consider that almost all top golfers spend a bit of time watching and talking

To other top golfers, practicing to improve their skills and generally reading about golf

The more accurate description of what I was trying to find turned out to be

Top golfers that haven’t had consistent lessons or a single golf teacher over the years

Which fitted in with the observations that I made in the ‘Do you really need golf lessons?’ series of posts

When I said that ‘you don’t necessarily need golf lessons to learn golf’

Golf lessons will simply make it quicker and easier for you to develop your skills

Meaning that you will be more likely to continue the game rather than finding it difficult

Some people are just naturally able to pick all that stuff up and make it work on their own

Like the golfer who is known as the greatest amateur golfer of all time

Robert Tyre Jones Jr. is of course more commonly known as Bobby Jones

The only golfer to complete a single-season Grand Slam (as it was back then)

He won 7 Professional Major Championships while remaining a lifelong amateur;

The U.S. Open in 1923, 1926, 1929, 1930 and the British Open in 1926, 1927, 1930

As well as winning 6 Amateur Championships over the same period

The U.S. Amateur in 1924, 1925, 1927, 1928, 1930 and the British Amateur in 1930

He was also a Co-founder of the Augusta National Golf Club at which one of golf’s major tournaments – the Masters – is held each year

You could argue (and no doubt many people do) that with a record like that

Bobby Jones is the greatest golfer who ever lived, however one thing is clear

He was certainly the greatest part-time golfer who ever lived as Bobby Jones

Usually only played golf in summer – which was about three months each year

Yes, you read that right!

In his early years Bobby Jones was apparently “such a sickly child that he was unable to eat solid food until he was five years old.”

This changed after his family bought a house on Atlanta’s East Lake Country Club and Jones’ health improved as he got into sports – including golf

It seems that Jones never had formal lessons, instead he developed his swing by watching the pro at East Lake Country Club – Stewart Maiden – from Carnoustie, Scotland

He began winning tournaments at age 6 and by age 14 Bobby Jones was playing in national championships although his later career could be best described as being in two parts

The “Seven Lean Years” from ages 14 to 21 and the “Seven Fat Years” from ages 21 to 28

As Jones was a prodigy and playing in national championships at a young age

His fame as a golfer grew even though he rarely won anything of significance

Possibly his well-known temper and many club-throwing incidents played a part in that

But when Jones finally broke through by winning the 1923 U.S. Open – the “fat years” began

From 1923 to 1930, Jones played in 21 national championships and won 13 of them

His brilliance culminated in 1930 when he won the Grand Slam of the time:

The U.S. Open, U.S. Amateur, British Open and British Amateur – all in the same year

Then – at the ripe old age of 28 – Jones retired from competitive golf

So what was it that made Bobby Jones a top golfer without having golf lessons?

Three things stand out, the first of which was that he modelled what he saw the pro doing and even though I wasn’t able to find a record of it anywhere

I’d suggest that the old pro just might have had a bit more to do with helping him than that

The second thing was that as he only played golf for 3 months a year – he committed himself fully – nothing else got in his way as he was completely focussed on his golf

The last thing that I think was useful to him was his temper

Which is something I’m going to talk more about in ‘Top golfers that have never had golf lessons – Bobby Jones – part two’

Until then

Play well


Related Posts

Do you really need golf lessons?

Why golfers don’t have as many golf lessons as they should

What to expect from a golf lesson

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