In the winter of 1946, Jack Nicholas purchased the rights to the “Bobby Jones” name and began using it for a new golf course in Phoenix, Arizona. The course was designed by A.B. “Bobby” Jones, Jr.
Jones had already designed and constructed a number of golf courses around the country, but this course was arguably his greatest achievement. Nicknamed the “Grand Canyon of the South”, the 18-hole design crosses the entire state of Arizona, opening in the beautiful desert landscape and stretching into the snow-capped San Francisco Peaks.
Jones had intended to design the course with some of his close friends, but their schedules clashed and only eight of them could play on the course on its opening day in February 1946.
It was here that Jones had the inspiration to design his infamous “Handicap System“. The system was a way of keeping score that took the idea of scoring down to a scientific level, making every shot valuable and each hole more interesting than the last. Later that year, he released a book titled, “A Complete Guide to the Game of Golf“. In it, he expounded on his theories of how to play the game and how to score with the handicap system he developed. The book sold over 100,000 copies and became the best-selling golf book of all time. (
Jack Nicholas, owner of the “Bobby Jones” name, was fortunate enough to be granted the opportunity to build a golf course that was not only one of the greatest golf courses in history, but also a course that embodied many of the ideals that Jones established. He had the opportunity not only to build a golf course that was functional and easy to navigate, but a course that paid homage to Jones’ revolutionary thinking on golf and the scorecards he developed to keep track of it. (
The result is one of the most iconic golf courses in history, which, arguably, has not aged well because of the excessive use of concrete and asphalt on a golf course that played host to some of the greatest golfers of all time. However, the hole locations remain largely unchanged from what they were in 1946 and the look of the entire course is incredibly consistent. (
Hints On How To Play The Course
The basic idea behind the Handicap System is that every shot on the golf course has a value and that every hole is akin to a contest of who can get the greatest score. Essentially, every shot is a potential birdie or a potential bogey. (
Hints and tips on how to play the course are scrawled in the margins of A.B. “Bobby” Jones’ “A Complete Guide to the Game of Golf“. They were originally intended for the benefit of readers who were playing the course for the first time, but they still offer valuable insight for anyone who plays or plans to play the course. The tips and hints are reproduced below:
Practice hitting the ball directly into the moonlight. The brighter the better. (
This will help improve your swing and allow you to see your mistakes more clearly. (
Pay particular attention to your setup. Your swing is only as good as your setup. If your setup is wrong, your swing will suffer as a result and you will not be able to hit the ball well. (
Take your time and do not be in a hurry. Be deliberate in your approach and methodical in your execution. (
There is no rush to be the first one to hole out. The sooner you start, the sooner you will finish. (
The basic idea is to put your foot on the ball before you hit it. Some people call this technique the “American School of Golf”. It is effective and simple. (
When you miss the ball, it is often because you did not put enough pressure on it or did not follow through completely. The farther the ball travels the more pressure you should be able to apply and the more complete your follow through needs to be. (
Keep your eyes open and look for hazards. The number one cause of accidents on the course is due to someone being unaware of a hazard. (
It could be anything from loose footing on a slope, to tree roots, to unexpected water. (
Look to the left when you are driving and to the right when you are hitting from the rough. This will help keep you out of trouble. (
When you are approaching the ball, there is no need to rush. Take your time and make a plan before you start. (
Try to visualize the end result you are striving for. It will make the task less daunting. (
The Course Layout
The layout of the course is an extraordinary thing, particularly when you consider that it was designed with a more modern perspective in mind. The fairways are wide and flanked by high, desert bluffs. The roughs are not only natural but feature mounds, cactus, and rocks of all shapes and sizes that are sure to catch the ball.
These are but a few of the surprises that await the golfers who venture into one of the greatest golf courses of all time. Naturally, Jack Nicholas had no idea what he was getting himself into when he agreed to build the course in the first place, but he was certainly ready for the task. This is just one of the reasons why he and his team were able to pull off such an amazing feat. (
Upon first glance, all the holes appear to be straightforward. There is a tee box, a fairway, a green, and a pond with a wooden bridge crossing it. However, this is not the case. There are hidden dangers and unexpected quirks that await the golfers who dare to challenge the great champions of the past. Many of the holes were named after iconic figures in golf history and it is interesting to play them now and see how Jones planned on putting his theories to practice.