The Grand Slam : Bobby Jones, America, and the Story of Golf
By Mark Frost
Teacher’s Comments: Not as good as Frost’s The Greatest Game, Grand Slam is still a great read.
Grand Slam is Mark Frost’s second foray into golf history, following on the heels of his successful book-turned-movie, The Greatest Game. Grand Slam is an accessible biography of golf immortal Bobby Jones, built around his 1930 decision to try to win all four majors (British and US Amateurs, British and US Opens) in a single season.
Like The Greatest Game, Grand Slam is a mix of social and golf history. Frost not only lays out Jones’ life, but also helps to illuminate the times in which he lived. However, I don’t think that it would appeal as much to the non-golf fan as The Greatest Game, for much more of the book is dedicated to play-by-play of Jones’ matches.
As with Jones’ life, there is an almost mystical quality to the book. Frost begins with a bolt of lightning that stikes the East Lake Country Club clubhouse. Lightning then strikes figuratively throughout the book, It is not until the end, though, that we learn the full import of the literal East Lake strike (though those already familiar with his life know the answer). Frost also takes us through Jones’ meditations on fate and destiny.
When reading about Jones, I never fail to wonder at the physical and mental toll that playing championship golf seemed to take of him. Major weight loss, stomach pains and debilitation accompanied each victory. Given that, I frankly wonder if he would be able to play at all under the media scrutiny that Tiger Woods faces today.
There also are other fascinating characters in the book, and a never ending supporting cast. Two of the most fascinating for me were women: Alexa Stirling and Joyce Wethered—both of whom, I think, deserve a biography of their own. These female amateurs were said to be the equal of nearly any man playing at the time.