March 17, St. Patrick's Day, is also the birthday of the legendary golfer Bobby Jones. He wore a four leaf clover gold watch chain to remind him of that, and it can be seen dangling from his pocket in many of the classic photos.
In his book "Down the Fairway," Jones opened with the following quote. We couldn't agree more.
"You can take it from me there are two kinds of golf; there is golf -- and tournament golf. And they are not at all the same."
With that, we'll take a look back to a visit to East Lake Country Club in Atlanta back in 2009, along with a visit to Bobby Jones' grave site.
Originally published in September of 2009:
ATLANTA, Georgia -- On a recent trip to Atlanta's famed East Lake Golf Club for the Tour Championship, I wanted to do more than watch the golf -- I wanted to soak in a little bit of the legend of golf's greatest amateur -- Bobby Jones.
First of all, East Lake itself is a magnificent course. The way the holes come together around the clubhouse, with the lake coming into play, is fantastic. The tall pines and rolling fairways are very much like Augusta National. I want to come back and play it, I'll even take the heat and humidity if I have to.
The tudor clubhouse is filled with Bobby Jones memorabilia, from one of only two replicas of the Havemeyer trophy (the original was destroyed in a fire) to a silver replica of the Calamity Jane -- a putter that won some 13 majors for Jones. Walking up the stairway to the second level there are issue upon issue of a magazine called "Mid Week Pictorial", all with Bobby Jones on the cover. And there are a number of pieces from Jones' contemporary Alexa Stirling's stellar career as well.
In the pro shop, Jones' original metal locker stands against the wall, and you can still purchase a cigar from his humidor, circa 1940 (I didn't, but was tempted). I wanted to know if his house down the road from the second fairway was still standing and was told it was not - but that information came with the suggestion from the pro that I make a detour to visit the Jones family gravesite in the historic Oakland Cemetery if I had time.
And on the way over I wondered what it would be like - the only gravesites I had in the front of my mind were people like rock star Jim Morrison (in Paris I believe) and I don't think it is in very good shape.
But not the case for Robert T. Jones gravesite, with a modest headstone fronted by a perfectly manicured bermuda grass fairway. The pro at East Lake told me that people might leave a tee there, but there was much more, mostly golf balls (piles of them), some with captions. The best of these was "Please help, Bobby."
That got through to me, on so many levels!
On top of the headstone a number of people had left various rocks. I'm not sure of the significance -- perhaps they were from far off places like Scotland, a place where Jones was so beloved. Several bag tags and ball markers were left untouched, showing the various places people had traveled from.
The best - a simple, dimed size marker that said "St. Andrews Golf Links". I recommend a trip to the Oakland Cemetery if you are in Atlanta. You can even have lunch after, as I did, at “Six Feet Under” – a restaurant whose somewhat tacky sign belies its excellent blend of southern seafood fare. I recommend the fried catfish plate.