The Time Bobby Jones Won a PGA Tour Tournament in Augusta

In 1930, Bobby Jones won a PGA Tour tournament in Augusta, Georgia. The distant second-place finisher had beaten Jones earlier in the year, and went on to win the first Masters Tournament. This win by Jones, however, was not at Augusta National.

The tournament was the Southeastern Open, and the golf course was Augusta Country Club, not Augusta National. One obvious reason the tournament wasn't played at Jones' own golf course: Because it didn't exist yet! Augusta National Golf Club's official opening date was January 13, 1933. At the time, it was Augusta Country Club that the (then) small town in Georgia was famous for, and it was at ACC that the 1930 Southeastern Open was played.

(Augusta National and ACC, by the way, abut one another today: Their property lines share a border near Rae's Creek in Amen Corner. The clubs have collaborated many times over the years. In 2017, Augusta National purchased land from ACC and, as one form of payment, agreed to pay for the design of new eighth and ninth holes at ACC.)

Jones' participation generated headlines in the weeks leading up to the Southeastern Open. The great Atlanta amateur was in his Grand Slam year, although that wasn't known yet. The Southeastern Open ended on April 1 that year. His British Amateur win finished on May 31; the British Open on June 20; the U.S. Open on July 12; and the U.S. Amateur on September 27. So one can say, without too much stretching, that the Southeastern Open at Augusta Country Club was the launching point for Jones' historic run over the rest of the year.

Horton Smith's participation also generated headlines. One article previewing the tournament called Smith "the sensational young pro" and gave him equal billing to Jones. In his rookie year on the PGA Tour in 1928, Smith won twice at age 20. He won eight tour events in 1929. And in the months leading up to the Southeastern Open at ACC in 1930? Another four wins.

One of those wins was at the Savannah Open in February, where Smith won by a single stroke over the runner-up. That runner-up was ... Bobby Jones.

So what happened at the 1930 Southeastern Open? Jones so outclassed the field that it was a bit anti-climactic. Jones won and Smith finished second, but Smith was a distant 13 strokes behind.

One newspaper headline was, "Jones gives pros lessons in golf." The tournament was played over the two courses at Augusta Country Club, and Jones carded scores of 72-72-69-71. Not spectacular by modern scoring standards, but Jones' 284 total was 13 better than the score shot by wunderkind Horton Smith.

Smith didn't win again in 1930, while Jones went on to win the Grand Slam and achieve golf legend status. Jones retired from competitive tournament play at the end of the year and focused on a new venture as the co-founder of Augusta National Golf Club.

Augusta National officially opened in 1933, and the first Masters Tournament was played in 1934. Jones had been retired for four years, but his fellow co-founder, Clifford Roberts, asked him to play in the 1934 Masters to make sure their new club received plenty of attention (and hopefully more paying members).

Jones acquitted himself well in the 1934 Masters, finishing at 294 and tied for 13th place. It was one of 12 times Jones played The Masters, and remained his best finish in the event.

Horton Smith also played that 1934 Masters ... and won it. Two years later, he won it again. That 1930 Southeastern Open at the other course in Augusta, Ga., worked out pretty well for them both.

And the third-place finisher in the 1930 Southeastern Open? That was Ed Dudley. When Augusta National Golf Club did open several years later, Dudley became its first head professional.

Related articles:

Popular posts from this blog