Mr. Gillingwater stalked up to the little fellow hitting golf balls (in this movie, circa 1931) and demanded to know if he were the miscreant who had sent a ball through the windshield of his automobile.
"I'm Bobby Jones," said the squeaky-clean little fellow in plus-fours, long-sleeved white shirt and tie.
Mr. Gillingwater forgot his cracked window and took to studying the Jones grip, for by then Robert Tyre Jones Jr. was the most famous golfer in the world. Behind his back, Gillingwater's daughter and boyfriend signaled to Jones to keep the old man occupied while they eloped.
A gentleman's conspiratorial smile played at Jones' lips and for the next 10 minutes he gave the old fellow a golf lesson with a fairway wood. Only at the end of the instructional film did the fascinated Gillingwater realize his daughter had skipped off.
"You put one over on me," he said kindly to Jones, adding that the daughter's beau was fine with him. "I'll let him play golf every day," Gillingwater said.
Then the music came up under "The End," along with a voice telling the movie house customers that the next installment of the Jones instructional series would deal with the driver.
It is right, if not worshipful, to say this film of Bobby Jones unwittingly foreshadowed the ambiguities that mark Jones' loving creation, the Masters golf tournament.
He is partner in the film to a deception that he practices because he believes it's good for Mr. Gillingwater and the old fellow will thank him for it later. And even as Jones portrays the classic amateur, he hustles a buck by selling the film to your neighborhood movie houses.
The smaller deception of the Masters tournament today is that it is one of the four major championships in the world. By any measure of competitive quality, it is not. Its field annually accepts only maybe 50 players who can win, not the 100 at even a mundane Quad Cities Open. As a test of ability, the Masters might be one of the world's 30 best tournaments.
But through subtle manipulation of the media and sophisticated marketing of its product, the Masters has sold the larger deception that this tournament and its style are the standard against which all others should be measured. This is what is good for you, Mr. Gillingwater. Get Cadillac to provide the official tournament courtesy cars. Paint everything green, even the drain grates. Put please on your green garbage bags and wrap the concession-stand sandwiches in green paper.
Pinkerton guards have many duties at the Masters.
They stop any spectator who runs, for one.
A guard followed a newspaperman into an interview area, tapped him on the shoulder and said, "I'll have that Coke, sir."
No soft drinks allowed in that room.
This is golf for the game's sake, we are told, and so, at no time during the tournament, are we told how much money the champion will win. Though the Masters is a commercial enterprise hustling bucks for all it's worth (it sells TV rights, maybe 40,000 tickets and trinkets galore), we are asked to believe that any honorable gentleman would trade the champion's prize money for the green jacket that goes to the winner. Millions of us believe exactly that.
Bert Yancey, a good player in the early '70s, was so mesmerized by the cultlike brainwashing of the Masters that he interviewed the tailor who sewed the sacred threads of the jacket.
What the Masters has, undeniably, is a golf course nearly incomparable in its demands of players and its simple physical beauty. Your breath comes in short takes when you first survey the panorama from under the giant oak trees above the 18th green. The grass runs velvet smooth over gentle swales that descend, like a falling wave, to the base of slender pines set among flowers of pink, yellow and red.
You want to take your shoes off to play golf at Augusta National, so as to not get the place dirty. Lee Trevino once said, "God had a good day here."
Any romantic is soon reduced to slathering gibberish when speaking of the Masters. This can not be prevented, except by inoculations of industrial-strength skepticism, for it is practically impossible to take a step without being reminded you are on hallowed ground.
Portraits in oil, etchings, line drawings and photographs of former champions and the golf course hang in every room of the clubhouse. There's a glass case filled with 19 clubs donated by past winners of the Masters, with a little card identifying each, such as "Raymond Floyd's 5 Wood, 1976."
During a rain delay the other day, they played the Bobby Jones instructional film on the club's closed-circuit television system.
Jones' grip was sloppy, his backswing too long and his full swing a loop made functional only by extraordinary eye-hand coordination. Watching the master at work, TV sportscaster Pat Summerall said to pro golfer Ed Sneed, "What do you think?"
Sneed said nothing.
Now, maybe Sneed didn't hear the question, though he was sitting in the next chair. Most likely, he simply didn't want to say Bobby Jones couldn't win a dime with that swing nowadays. As a romantic, Sneed is so committed to the idea of the Masters that he sat in the dining room and, without a wince, watched a replay of himself missing a six-foot putt to win the 1979 Masters.
Speaking of the dining room . . .
Men only are allowed.
Augusta National announces that with an engraved brass plate attached to a wall.
In 1973, Cliff Roberts held a press conference to defuse growing criticism that Augusta National and the Masters discriminated against blacks. The only blacks, aside from a handful of ticket-buyers, were the club waiters and caddies. No black player had ever been invited. This was seen by some as an extension of a life style that the club seemed to symbolize, the Old South with the massah in the white house on the hill.
Roberts came to the press to say it wasn't so.
"I wrote the story for the Associated Press," said Hubert Mizell, now sports editor of The St. Petersburg Times. "Roberts said, 'If one should qualify, we would welcome our dark-complected friends.' The next day one of Roberts' committeemen, Charlie Coe, came up to me.
"He said, 'You write that story about Mr. Roberts?' I said yes. I thought he was going to throw me off the grounds. But Coe said, 'You done good.' And Roberts wrote me a letter of thanks."
Calvin Peete, a black playing this year in his fourth Masters, says the tournament is no big deal to him. Just another tournament. Not a great course, not a great field. Then why, someone asked, is he here?
"It's the best tournament this week," said Peete.
Peete grew up with no time for romantic notions of idealistic honor as defined by a dictator, however benevolent Bobby Jones might have been. So it's not as big a deal for Cal Peete to be here as it is, say, for Alistair Cooke, the urbane Briton commentator whose mind belongs to logic and whose heart is the Masters'.
The Masters (Cooke says) is a garden party, an Edwardian garden party, not much removed from the grace of the royal enclosure at Ascot. Those such as Peete who pick at it (Cooke says) soon grow comfortable when they discover the hoity-toity are everyday folk after all.
"In 1967, I went to the 15th green to wait for Hogan," Cooke said, remembering the greatest romance here in decades, the day Ben Hogan shot 36-30--66. "Hogan was standing at the top of the fairway hill, wearing that little white cap, this midget Geronimo looking the landscape over. He took an iron club. It was flashing in the sunlight. He looked the longest time, deciding if he ought to gamble and go directly for the green.
"He put the iron away and took a wood club. Bang, crunch. And the ball came down on the green. He almost made an eagle, but he got a birdie. Then on the 18th, he put his second 22 feet above the hole, on the terrace there, an unmakeable putt for anyone, let alone Hogan with the terrible putting problems of age. He was practically paralyzed over the putt.
"Finally, he drew the putter back. Oh, God. He's sank it. I never heard such a roar in my life."
Cooke said he has missed only one of the last 18 Masters, that because the Falklands war demanded all his attention, and he doesn't intend to miss another.