On this day in 1930, golfer Bobby Jones wins his fourth major tournament of the year, making him the first person ever to win the “Grand Slam” of golf. Jones beat Gene Homans in match play format, 8 and 7, meaning he was eight holes ahead with just seven holes left to play.
Bobby Jones, a native of Atlanta, Georgia, had the picture-perfect swing of every golfer’s dreams, despite never having taken a lesson. While still a child, Jones modeled his swing after that of Stewart Maiden, a Scottish golfer who was the golf professional at the Atlanta Club. It worked: Jones was said to have shot a 70 for 18 holes by the age of 12. At 14, he won his first of five U.S. Amateur Championships at the Merion Cricket Club in Ardmore, Pennsylvania, where, 14 years later, he would win the Grand Slam, his greatest triumph.
Jones’ 1930 Grand Slam–which consisted of victories in the U.S. Open, British Open, U.S. Amateur and British Amateur in the same year–was the first in golf history. The four events took place over a five-month period, with the U.S. Amateur coming last. In the U.S. Amateur final, Jones played Gene Homans in head-to-head match play format. From the outset Jones showed himself to be the better golfer, winning the first hole played, three of the first four holes, and taking an early eight-hole lead. On what would be the final hole, Jones landed a long putt near the edge of the cup with his famous rusty putter, which he called Calamity Jane. With only a slight tap needed for Jones to place the ball into the hole, Homans had to hole his final putt to stay in the match. With most of the 18,000 fans at the tournament silently surrounding the green and standing in the adjoining fairway, Homans rushed the putt and missed, then walked toward Jones to shake his hand, acknowledging defeat. Understanding the significance of the historic moment, the crowd rushed toward Jones–it took a squadron of Marines to lead Jones and Homans to safety.
Jones retired from golf at the age of 29, shortly after winning the Grand Slam. Over the course of his career, he won four U.S. Opens, five U.S. Amateurs, three British Opens and one British Amateur. His total of 15 major tournaments wasn’t surpassed until Jack Nicklaus won his 16th major in 1980.
In 1934, Jones founded the Augusta National Golf Club, and that same year was among the founders of a new tournament called The Masters. As amateur play became less common, the Masters replaced the U.S. Amateur in the Grand Slam. Today, a Grand Slam consists of winning the Masters, the U.S. Open, the British Open and the PGA Championship.