Bill Gates, Bobby Jones & New Irons

Bill Gates may be rich, but it came at a price. He's really socially awkward.
Bill Gates may be rich, but it came at a price. He seems like a really strange guy.

In Business Management, we watched an A&E Biography on Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates. What a strange guy! A social misfit basically from the age of 12, Gates buried his head in front of a computer, and never left. His business savvy has made him the richest man in America, and he was a billionaire by the age of 31. Now, more than 90% of all of the computers in the world run Microsoft software. Amazing.

Then in History of Golf, we discussed why Francis Ouimet’s U.S. Open win as an amateur in 1913 was perhaps one of the greatest upsets in sports history. It transformed the game forever. At the time, Ouimet was an unknown neighborhood kid with a ten-year-old caddie who defeated British superstars Harry Vardon and Ted Ray. No one gave Ouimet a chance to win. Big mistake! The 20-year-old Ouimet had grown up across the street from The Country Club in Brookline, Massachusetts, and no other golfer in the field had more course knowledge. He caddied there, and he woke up every day staring out at the 17th hole from his bedroom window. He caddied at the club when he was younger, and he snuck onto the course whenever he could play a few holes.

Ouimet lacked the tournament experience of Vardon and Ray. He was an amateur in a sport ruled by professionals and an American in a sport dominated by the British. Up to that point, Vardon and Ray had combined to win what you would consider seven major tournaments while Ouimet had won just a handful of high school competitions. Ouimet wasn’t supposed to win. Ouimet also had the added pressure of a scheduling conflict. While U.S. Open tournament organizers moved the tournament from June to September to accommodate the schedules of the world’s two greatest golfers, Ouimet had to pull some major strings just to get the time off from his full-time job at the Boston sporting goods store where he worked.

Ouimet was trailing down the stretch. With six holes to play, Ouimet was two shots back of the lead. But then came a miraculous chip-in birdie on the Par 4 13th hole followed by a 20-foot birdie to tie for the lead on the Par 4 17th and then a clutch par putt on the Par 4 18th. Suddenly, Ouimet was walking off the course in a three-way-tie for the lead with his boyhood idols. He had to sleep on his nerves because the three men would be back on the tee for an 18-hole playoff the following day. As if that wasn’t enough pressure, the crowds would swell to at least 10,000, the largest gallery ever to witness a round of golf at the time. Playing in a drizzle, Ouimet took the lead on the 10th hole and would beat Vardon by five shots. He beat Ray by six.

The Incomparable Bobby Jones
Bobby Jones’ career accomplishments were many, but there are a few that stand out. Jones won the game of golf’s first Grand Slam. In 1930, Jones won all four major championships of his era: The U.S. and British Amateurs as well as the U.S. Open and the Open Championship. No one had done it before, and no one has done it since.

Jones made a total of 18 instructional golf films in Hollywood between 1931 and 1933 when he was really at the peak of his stardom. He coached well-known film stars with fascinating golf pointers. The films were popular, and Jones actually gave up his amateur status in order to earn the lucrative contract money for the films. The films were put into storage and were unavailable for decades. However, a surviving print was located 60 years later and later put into video and DVD format for preservation by a distant cousin of Jones’s. Here is one of those films:

Jones also founded and helped design Augusta National Golf Club. The first Masters Tournament was held at Augusta one year later in 1934. The Masters remains the only golf major to be played at the same venue every year and it remains its most distinguished title. Its elegance and attention to detail are what set it apart from all the other majors.

Look what arrived in the mail today?
Look what arrived in the mail today?

Guess what arrived in the mail today? My new Titleist CB 714 forged irons! They are a thing of beauty. Tomorrow, Campus Director Tim Eberlein is going to check the lofts and lies for me to make sure they’re correct. They have to be ready for our upcoming tournament Monday at Moon Valley Country Club. I can’t wait to hit them.

It’s the first time in the history of the Academy that we’re playing Moon Valley. The course, which used to be owned by Ping founder Karsten Solheim, hosted the LPGA Standard Register Ping Tournament from 1983 through 2003.

On the schedule tomorrow: Rules of Golf, Mechanics of the Short Game, and Computer Applications.

This article has 1 Comment

  1. Reading about Bill Gates and Francis Ouimet reminded me of the book Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell. It’s all about those 10,000 hours of prep that puts some individuals in the right circumstance at the right time. Seems like Ouimet’s story is similar to other Outlier stories in the book.

Leave a Reply