Mark Frost's The Grand Slam: Bobby Jones, America and the Story of Golf is definitely for the thinking golf fan. This lengthy history charts the first major American growth of the game, essentially the first half of the 20th century. The inspirational touchstone for Frost's work is the astounding rise of Bobby Jones (1902-1971), who became the first tee-to-green matinee-idol in the U.S. Jones burst on the scene as a precocious teen during World War I, enjoyed a decade of unparalleled success, then abruptly retired from the game at age 28, his mythic legacy secured. Frost's text mostly blends Jones' biography with match accounts and tons of anecdotes involving his challengers, such as Walter Hagen, Gene Sarazen and Francis Ouimet. To place golf events in their larger historical context, the author periodically pauses to focus on world events and cultural movements, often in engrossing detail. Strangely enough, Frost's descriptions of the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand, for example are sometimes a lot more riveting than the somewhat exhaustive tournament rundowns. Coverage of Jones and his times including his role in the founding of Augusta National, site of the Masters is packed solidly up till about 1950, at which time Jones began to suffer the ravages of the paralyzing spinal-cord disorder syringomyelia. The disease would torture him the final 20 years of his life. Even to the end, Jones was an upbeat figure beloved by all: a man whose purist, high-achieving approach to the game established him with Dempsey and Ruth as a seminal giant of American sport.

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