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Law as a Second Career: Bobby Jones

One of the greatest golfers ever quit at the age of 28 to be a lawyer.

Who, you ask? Bobby Jones, who in 1930 became the only golfer ever to record a “Grand Slam” in a single year.

A native of Atlanta, Jones was a golf prodigy, winning his first tournament at age 6. He kept playing and winning. He earned an engineering degree from Georgia Tech, where he was on the golf team. He earned a degree from Harvard. He went to law school at Emory, then passed the Georgia bar exam after only one year of study.

He had a pretty good year in 1930, winning four of the sport’s major tournaments at the time– the U.S. Open, the U.S. Amateur, the British Open and the British Amateur – a feat tagged a Grand Slam.

Maybe he figured there was nowhere to go but down, so he quit to concentrate on his law practice in Atlanta. He continued to play in the Masters over in Augusta every year until 1948, when bad health caught up with him. He died in 1971 at the age of 69.

The town of St. Andrews, Scotland, home of the “Old Course,” named Jones a “Freeman of the City” in 1958. To this day, the University of St. Andrews and Emory University, Jones’ law alma mater, have a close relationship. Every year, four students from St. Andrews spend a year of study in Atlanta, and four Emory students go to Scotland, all expenses paid both ways.

A tip of the golf cap to Steve Emmert for suggesting Jones for this column. And thanks likewise to Jim Segall, who pointed out Jones remained an amateur; item above corrected accordingly

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