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In the wake of the 1929 stock market crash, an amateur golfer began a decade of unparalleled achievement, seeming a ray of light in an otherwise depressed America. Bobby Jones won the British Amateur Championship, the British Open, the US Open and the US Amateur Championship. A new phrase was born: The Grand Slam. A modest, sensitive man, a lawyer from a middle-class Atlanta family, Bobby Jones had barely survived a sickly childhood, and took up golf at the age of five for health reasons. Jones made his debut at the US Amateur Championship in 1916 and his genius was recognised by his inspiration, Francis Ouimet. However, his health was never good, and the strain of completing the Slam exacted a ferocious toll; the US Open, played in July in blazing heat, nearly killed him. Jones fought to keep his fragile condition a secret from a country suffering from the Depression, but at the age of twenty-eight, after winning the US Amateur, he retired. His abrupt disappearance at the height of his renown inspired an impenetrable myth, to this day still fiercely protected by family and friends.
Before Arnold, Jack and Tiger, there was Bobby. After winning the Grand Slam of golf in 1930, Jones stood like a colossus over the American sporting scene. He is the only individual to have been recognized with two ticker tape parades down Broadway's Canyon of Heroes. Frost (The Greatest Game Ever Played) has written a swift, surefooted account of Jones's remarkable life and career. From Jones's precocious early days on the Atlanta links to his sudden retreat from the media spotlight, Frost covers every detail. The self-taught Jones began playing serious tournaments at 14 and quickly moved into the ranks of the world's best players. In 1930, he won the four major tournaments of the time: the British Amateur, the British Open, the U.S. Open and the U.S. Amateur, which sportswriters dubbed the Grand Slam. Following this success, Jones promptly retired. Later diagnosed with a rare nerve illness, he lived out his life as golf's elder statesman. While Frost's eager prose has an engaging, "you are there" quality, for nongolfers the question is whether they actually do want to be there. Frost strains to place Jones's achievement in the broader context of American history. As bedside reading for the literate duffer, this is a hole in one. For the average reader, it's a bogey. 15 b&w photos. was praised widely, and cross-promos with the USGA and golfing events could help this new book gain traction among Frost's readers.