There's a fabulous new biography out on Bobby Jones, "The Immortal Bobby," by Chicago Sun-Times sports columnist Ron Rapoport. The author conducted scores of interviews and had access to previously undiscovered correspondence between Jones and some of his friends and acquaintances, including Jim Murray, the late Los Angeles Times sports columnist.

Their illuminating exchange of letters in the 1960s on the Masters not inviting Charlie Sifford, enshrined last fall as the first black in the World Golf Hall of Fame, to the tournament was quite revealing.

Murray was a longtime advocate for Sifford, who won several PGA Tour events but never received an invitation to a tournament that was known as The Masters Invitational.

"Charlie could get in if he were the Chinese or Turko-Roman champion, or runner-up in the Formosa Open, or the All-Madrid City Championship," Murray once wrote. Jones wrote him back saying he hoped Sifford would qualify "so that we may have the question disposed of on the basis of performance." He also wrote to Murray and said the tournament could not "invite a man simply because he is black."

Sifford, who won the Los Angeles Open and the Hartford Open on the PGA Tour, has maintained that Augusta National kept changing its qualification rules in order to bar him from playing.

Rapoport's description of Jones's volatile temper early in his playing career -- complete with blistering profanity and club throwing -- belies the image of Jones as the consummate Southern gentleman. Actually, Jones did learn to control his temper as he went on to become the dominant player in the game in the late 1920s, but the pressure of competition also frequently left him in tears after many of his victories and physically ill before he had to tee off in important events.
- Leonard Shapiro, Washington Post