Third Annual Bobby Jones Classic for CSF Recap

The third Bobby Jones Classic was a great success. There were a few surprises because of the weather but schedule changes were so quick and efficient that guests hardly noticed.  

The city of Atlanta came out the big winner this year and one reason was announced at the Awards Dinner Monday evening by two professors from Georgia Tech’s Dept of Biomedical Engineering – the new collaboration between Tech and CSF to develop a golf cart that will let young people with paralysis enjoy playing the greatest game with their families and friends.

Sunday between 10:30 and 2pm, a group of adventurous visitors enjoyed a rainy day bus trip to the birthplace of Bobby Jones in Grant Park, his grave site in Oakland Cemetery and the Atlanta History Center’s Jones Exhibit. Highlights were Historian Paul Hammock of the Atlanta Preservation Society showing their restoration of the antebellum house in Grant Park with the room where he was born in 1902, and the modest gravesite. Many golf balls had been placed in front of the headstone and by its side was another sign of the game he loved - a cup. You would have had to be there to appreciate how good and unruffled driver Amanda Ellis was – there was thunderous applause at the end after she had skillfully led us home on time.

Meadow Nook, the antebellum house Of Charles and Sylvia Harrison, sparkled at the reception Sunday  afternoon for out of town guests. Many thanks to them for making it available and so beautiful.

The Opening Reception at East Lake: The sogginess outside and still uncertain weather delayed the Alexa Stirling Putting Competition to the next day. Instead of frustration, guests were relieved they wouldn’t have to risk slipping and sliding outside and the efficient staff silently moved everything into the perfectly decorated Great Hall. Also, as we entered we were charmed to see Cory Cannon, the smiling 8 yr old son of Jones Scholar Steve and Tracy Cannon, dressed exactly like a young Bobby Jones, wearing a floppy golf cap, plus fours and argyle socks. His sister Claire, age 6, also sparkled – she was a younger version of the great Alexa, and her long skirt, white blouse and vest and early 20th century hat completed the picture. Tom Cousins loves to mention the sensation of taking a time machine ride back to Bobby’s era when visitors walk through the front door and Claire and Cody made that come true.

CSF Board Chair Paul Farrell and Executive Director Dorothy Poppe, welcomed us all and previewed the changes to the Monday schedule. The putting committee relaxed and happily moved off stage for 24 hrs and enjoyed the festive party and the chance to make new friends.

A Dry and Cooler Monday – The Big Day: Golfers enjoyed a leisurely breakfast and plenty of time to warm up both their driving and short games, including putting practice by the lake featuring Bobby’s historic putts perfectly laid out by the Putting Committee of Bobby Jones Scholars: Steve Cannon, Rob Mallard and James Watson. The modified scramble and The Bobby Jones Classic Trophy was won with an all time record score of net 104, 40 under par by the team of Matt Caine, Tom Greene, Zan Banks and Merritt Dyke. Note: Details of interest to East Lake historians and golfers are being collated and will be revealed in a separate essay coming soon: Bobby Jones Classic: The Record Round.

Awards dinner and long awaited putting contest for the Alexa Stirling Cup: There were no weather problems Monday evening but putting pressure was added by the 24 hr weather delay. Two guests smiled at the pressure and coolly nailed the almost impossible downhill-sidehill, 75 footer on the 18th green with plenty of excited witnesses. First to make was Susan Moore from Montgomery and we thought it was all over. Then, just as the announcement of supper caused a small stampede to dinner, up stepped John Massey from Atlanta, and bingo, in his went. Loud cheers were heard – there would be a putt-off after supper - history was being made. 

The dinner was marked by the best ever back and forth discussion of Bobby Jones the man. His grandson, Bob Jones IV, was interviewed by author Sid Matthew, the man who has made a more thorough academic study of Jones than anyone else.

After all the drama of the two days, the quiet putt-off on 18 was the perfect finish. Neither competitor expected to hole it a second time and both were honored to be in the Famous Final Two. Susan’s best putt wound up closer to the hole than John’s, so the Alexa Stirling Cup will go to her.  The runner up smiled and was the first to congratulate the excited champion.

Everyone was pleased at the end of the third annual Bobby Jones Classic. Five new champions stepped up; a new collaboration between CSF and Tech was announced to design a new golf cart for disabled young people; funds were raised for the Chiari and Syringomyelia Foundation (CSF) to fund research that will find a cure to the disease that paralyzed Bobby Jones and the memory of Bobby Jones was honored in his home town at East Lake, his home course.

Linton C. Hopkins