y Steven Reid
It is always a pleasure to pick up a new golf book, especially when it is written by a member of the British Golf Collectors Society. Bobby’s Open is written by Steven Reid who has first hand knowledge of the course in question, as he is a long standing member, and Past Captain, of Royal Lytham and St Annes. I think the fact that he is also currently the Chief Medical Officer of the R and A will have given him the medical knowledge to write about the psychological pressure facing the golfer at the heart of the story who is, of course, the famous Bobby Jones. One would have thought that all that could have been written about Jones would have, and probably was, been done so in the years shortly after his Grand Slam in 1930. Yet here is book written some eighty years after those events which is a very fresh and readable account, not just of one Open Championship, but really about one shot which, as the sub-title of the book describes as ‘the golf shot which defined a legend’. This is a paperback edition of the original published in 2012 consisting of 269 pages filled with the most interesting facts. There is also a centre section filled with 30 black and white photographs.
The opening chapters deal with earlier trips Jones made to Great Britain and describe in some detail problems he had in dealing with the different conditions and also his personal issues with self doubt and nervous tension. One would never believe that a golfer of such ability would have been so nervous every time he went out to play. The scene then turns to the 1926 Open Championship at Lytham St Annes where there are assembled a gathering of top golfers from both side of the Atlantic. I liked, particularly, the chapter on ‘Meet the players’ where Steven draws nice pen pictures of the main players and these include some facts which are new to me. Of course it is Jones that the book is about and it tells how having won the U S Open Championship and the U S Amateur Championship he arrives at Lytham knowing that victory would turn him into golf’s first superstar.
The play over the first two days are dealt with leading up to the final day when Jones was tied with Melhorn on a score of 144 with Hagen in second place on 145 and Watrous on 146. Given that the players had to play 36 holes on the Friday makes the story even more exciting, especially as do not go out in order of their score as they do now. Jones was paired with Watrous and by the time they come to the 17th hole they are tied. Of course anyone who has had the privilege of playing this Open course will, if they try to cut the corner of the 17th, have seen the plaque in the ground which marks the spot from which Jones played his miraculous shot. Naturally the book deals in some detail with this shot and how it affected the outcome of the championship. In discussing aspects of the shot, Steven Reid, describes the shot as one which will ‘fire his reputation’ – and that of the golf course – around the world’. This it most certainly did. There is a very interesting final section to the book where previously unknown correspondence between the Club and Jones in 1958 is revealed. There is a good Forword to the book by Jack Nicklaus.
Bobby’s Open won The Times Sporting Book of the Year for 2013 and this paperback edition is available for £8.99 from www.iconbooks.net who will advise you what the p&p is to where you live.