Golf is a Game of Recovery

“Golf is a Game of Recovery.”

Legend has it that that my hero, Robert Tyre Jones Jr. (Bobby), got this valuable lesson from the great Walter Hagen after a head-to-head match in Jones’ fledgling career. I will summarize as accurately as possible the story, as it has had a very real influence on me as both a golfer and a golf-instructor.

In the 20’s Professional Golfers were certainly not revered or in fact treated as well as what they are now. Indeed they were viewed as second-rate citizens and the riff-raff of the game. On the other hand, the amateur golfers were the royalty of golf and were treated as such. As a result, there were not many ways for professional players to earn a living as there were not a lot of professional tournaments to compete in. Hence, in an effort to make a living, gain recognition and further the cause of the pro golfer, Walter Hagen and many of his contemporaries played in exhibition matches and in one of these matches “The Haig” arranged what he termed to be “The Match of the Century” against his friend and young prodigy, Bob Jones.

In a very one-sided match, the unorthodox Hagen handed a real whipping to the sweet-swinging Jones even though Jones routinely put his ball on plenty of fairways and greens in regulation while Hagen on the other hand hit his ball all over the place yet continually made pars and birdies. After the match a frustrated and dejected Bobby Jones sat by himself in the corner of the clubhouse whilst the effusive Hagen caroused with his friends at the bar. Hagen looked over, saw Jones, and being the gentleman that he was, he wandered over to Jones to offer some encouragement.

His monologue to young Jones had the following gist: You have a great swing; you have a lot of talent; the world can be your oyster, but you must first learn the following very important lesson: “Golf is a game of recovery.” He also mentioned something to the effect of: “Three bad shots and one good one still equal four and that the game should embraced for that very fact.”

Bob Jones took that lesson to heart and the rest was history… An incredible ratio of victories to tournaments entered and the achievement of what his good friend and writer, O.B. Keeler termed “The Impregnable Quadrilateral” or the Grand Slam in 1930 with victories in the four major tournaments of his era – The British Open, The British Amateur, The United States Open and The United States Amateur.

  • Tags: Bob Jones, Golf, Grand Slam, Impregnable Quadrilateral, OB Keeler, Walter Hagen,
  • Category: Tip Blog