“The Slam: Bobby Jones and the Price of Glory” by Curt Simpson
Golf, history, biography
July 14, 2014 (original publication date 2005)
3 of 5 stars (good)
In 1930, amateur golfer Bobby Jones did what no other golfer has done before or since – win the four major tournaments in one calendar year. By winning the US Open, The Open (formerly known as the British Open), the US Amateur and British Amateur tourneys he became the first golfer to win what would come to be known as the Grand Slam. Over the years, the “Slam” has changed to include the Masters (a tourney played on a course Jones later designed) and the PGA Championship as professional golfers now make up the bulk of players in the Opens. This book by Curt Simpson has been re-published in digital format and follows Jones through that 1930 season and also illustrates society customs and golfing norms in that era.
The accounts of the four tournaments that Jones won illustrates Simpson’s detailed research as his recap of Jones’ rounds are full of details about not only shots taken by Jones, but by those of his opponents as well. The reader will feel the drama of the matches in the two amateur opens as those were match play tourneys. At times, I almost forgot who was taking which shot as the results of one hole were quickly forgotten as the drama of the next one played out. It was gripping to read of shots onto the green and excellent putts.
Because I wasn’t familiar with Jones’ story of his personal demons, his drinking or his social life, I read those chapters a little more slowly and while they were written with the same detail and research, I had trouble following through these segments. While the reader will be able to ascertain the issues Jones had off the golf course, it will be a little slower to be able to soak it in.
Overall, I felt this was a good biography on a golfer whose legend has grown over the years as more years pass and no golfer can duplicate the feat. Some golf historians hold Jones to a very high pedestal, which Simpson does not do here. I appreciated that as it read to be a fairly balanced account of the man’s golf and his life. It is a good read for anyone who is interested in golf history.
I wish to thank NetGalley for providing a copy of the digital book in exchange for an honest review.
Did I skim?
I did skim through some parts that dealt with Jones’ personal life as I was more interested in his golf achievements. I did read most of the book at a normal speed and was able to comprehend the main point of the book, which I felt was that Jones had a major accomplishment despite his personal demons.
Pace of the book:
It read slowly for me, although because I wasn’t familiar with much of the information in the book, I did reread some sections as well to follow some of the chapters, such as the one on Bobby’s Open championship
Do I recommend?
Yes, for hard core golf fans of the players of that era and for readers who are interested in stories about the 1920’s and 1930’s.
Book Format Read: