TOUR Championship partners with Atlanta History Center
(Photo Credit: Atlanta History Center)
Atlanta, GA - In Atlanta’s vast landscape of historical figures and places, legendary amateur golfer Robert Tyre “Bobby” Jones, Jr. and his home club, East Lake Golf Club, stand out. The genesis of Atlanta’s love affair with golf, East Lake Golf Club was the first course in the city of Atlanta and has remained at the epicenter of the sport in the city - its hallowed grounds now host the 30 best players in the world each year at the TOUR Championship, the conclusion to the PGA TOUR’s FedExCup Playoffs.
Jones, arguably the best player in the history of golf, called East Lake home, honing his game on its rolling fairways and classic layout. In fact, Jones played his first and last public round of golf at East Lake Golf Club, bookending a career that saw him rise to pinnacle of the sport.
To honor and pay tribute to Bobby Jones’ legacy and to celebrate historic East Lake Golf Club, the TOUR Championship is partnering the Atlanta History Center for the first time this year. As part of this partnership, fans can expect a reimagined main entrance in 2017 centered around Jones and his connection to the city and the sport he impacted so significantly. In addition to featuring Jones onsite at the TOUR Championship, the partnership will include a new permanent exhibition at the Atlanta History Center Fair Play: The Bobby Jones Story.
“It is important for all of our outstanding spectators to have a true appreciation of just how special a place East Lake Golf Club is and its historical place in Atlanta history as the first golf course and the true home course of Bobby Jones”, said Tom Clark, Executive Director of the TOUR Championship. “As spectators enter the TOUR Championship this year, they will be immersed in the rich history of both East Lake Golf Club and Bobby Jones, so they will better understand the legendary landscape of East Lake as they witness the best players of today compete for their highest prize, the FedExCup.”
Born in Atlanta on St. Patrick’s Day, March 17, 1902, Jones began playing golf at age six, when he and his family moved to East Lake from Grant Park. Bobby’s father, “Colonel” Robert P. Jones was an active member of the club and both he and Bobby were present when the course opened in 1908. Bobby’s father served as president of the club from 1937-1942 and as a director for 38 years. Bobby himself also later served as president from 1946-1947.
Jones dominated the game in the early 1920s through 1930, winning 13 national golf titles – four U.S. Opens, five U.S. Amateurs, three Open Championships and one British Amateur. In 1930, Jones accomplished golf’s unprecedented feat of winning all four major championships in the same calendar year, the U.S. Amateur, U.S. Open, British Amateur and Open Championship. He remains the only player in the history of the game to win all four major championships in the same calendar year. Following his historic year, Jones retired from competitive golf at the age of 28.
Fair Play: The Bobby Jones Story, the Atlanta History Center’s permanent exhibition opening Friday, March 17, goes beyond Jones’ glittery achievements and shiny trophies that accompanied them to detail the winning character of the Atlanta golfing great. The exhibition details how Jones first had to harness his perfectionist’s temper before he could conquer the golf world.
“The exhibition amply illustrates how Jones transcended his sport and became an American hero at a time when the nation most needed one,” said Fair Play curator Dr. Catherine Lewis, a Kennesaw State University professor, noted Jones scholar, and Atlanta History Center curator. “His strength of character, athletic skill, and personal accomplishments inspire us today.”
Fair Play features a host of artifacts new to display at the History Center, including a rare program from the inaugural Augusta National Invitational (now the Masters) in 1934; a personal letter from Jones to two-time Masters winner Ben Hogan; and four first edition books authored by Jones. Other highlights include rare replicas of the Grand Slam trophies; a Masters green jacket; and Depression-era Spalding golf clubs that Jones helped design, marking the first set of matched irons.
As another way to honor Jones’ legacy at East Lake Golf Club, a sterling silver replica of his putter, the Calamity Jane, widely regarded as the most famous club in the world, will be given to the winner of the TOUR Championship each year. A version of this putter was used by Jones in all his major appearances, including the ‘Grand Slam’ in 1930.
In addition to the Bobby Jones feature within the new Welcome Pavilion, s pectators will also be treated to a glimpse of the storied history of East Lake Golf Club. Full details of this new Welcome Pavilion are still in the planning phases, but spectators can expect to see features on the 1963 Ryder Cup hosted at East Lake Golf Club where Arnold Palmer served as a playing Captain on the victorious United States Team.
Tickets for the TOUR Championship, September 20-24, 2017, will go on sale the same day the Atlanta History Center opens the exhibition, fittingly on Bobby Jones 115th birthday, Friday, March 17.