Bobby Jones - Stroke of Genius
It was his style that set him apart from all others. A dashing smile. Impeccable integrity. Unrivaled intensity. Legendary wit and intelligence. An epic passion for life, born out of adversity.
During a seven-year period, Bobby Jones captured the attention of the world by winning an amazing 62 percent of the national championships he entered, including 13 of 21 tournaments. This amazing run culminated in his Grand Slam sweep of the four majors in the glorious summer of 1930, a feat that has yet to be repeated. Then he retired, never to play as a real competitor again.
Perhaps you've read about him or seen the documentaries. But now a major motion picture has been announced, to tell the story behind the legend of Bobby Jones.
It is an epic drama, in the genre of Chariots of Fire. A story that must be told.
Bobby Jones Film, LLC is privileged to be able to tell it.
Before Tiger Woods...before Jack Nicklaus, before professional sports became the behemoth industry it is today, shined one of the most gifted natural athletes the world has ever known. A man whose extraordinary talent and will to win earned him the Grand Slam of golf - a record he still holds to this day - and universal recognition as one of the greatest golfers in history. A reluctant hero, his grace and charm made him one of the popular figures of his day. His name was Bobby Jones.
Jim Caviezel (The Passion, The Count of Monte Cristo, Frequency) brilliantly portrays Jones in this inspiring story of an extraordinary man struggling to find balance in his life. As a boy, his competitive zeal and mastery of the sport propelled him into the national spotlight drawing huge, even boisterous, crowds to the tournaments he played. But his fiery temper and pressure from family, friends, fans, and press turned his fun into toil. His fierce ambition collided with his personal integrity, and he faced the reality that the hopes, dreams and fortunes of the people he loved the most were being sacrificed for his career. Under this unbearable burden his heroic nature became clear.
Completing degrees in mechanical engineering, English literature and law, he then fell in love with Mary Malone (Claire Forlani - Meet Joe Black, The Rock, Mystery Men), and started a family, all the while planning an exit from the competitive world of golf, with hopes of returning to playing it for fun again, as he did as a boy.
In the modern world, where the pure in spirit are hard to find, BOBBY JONES - STROKE OF GENIUS is the story of a man who, in spite of his flaws, strove to be the best he could be. He was a great champion because he was the best at his game, but he was a hero because he realized there was something far more important in life than winning golf tournaments.
In one of the most ironic twists of fate, Jones is crippled later in life with a degenerative back disorder, syringomyelia. True to his character, he never complained but stated simply that one must "play the ball as it lies." His living legacy is the Masters Golf Tournament played at Augusta National Golf Club which he designed and founded with the help of his friends.
In 1930, in a world stunned by economic depression and bound for global war, the public became obsessed with the exploits of Robert Tyre "Bobby" Jones, the only person ever to achieve the Grand Slam of golf. What made Bobby Jones so rare was that Jones the person was every bit as exceptional as Jones the golfer.
Motivated only by his love of the game, Jones played in professional tournaments as an amateur and never relinquished his amateur status even when romanced by those offering giant commercial endorsements. His talent for winning seemed to reaffirm the right order of things: for a brief time, the ideal world, the world of what should be, became the world that was. A good man moved an immovable object, and became the inspiration to millions.
When he won the British Amateur at the Royal and Ancient Golf Club, a band was set to play him in but never got to sound a note, so complete was the pandemonium. New York gave him the traditional ticker tape parade up Broadway when he added the British Open win to his Amateur title. He had been given a similar parade several years earlier when he became the first man, amateur or professional, to ever win both the United States and British Opens. He remains to this day the only person ever to have been given two such parades up Broadway.
Stroke of Genius is an emotionally charged film based on the life of Bobby Jones. The storyline calls to mind the fact that some people assume the enormous responsibility of uplifting the public in an epic, "larger-than-life" fashion. The movie puts into perspective the glories of the human spirit, set against the backdrop of human frailties and a world of increasing turmoil.
During the first half of the 1900's there was no internet, so the news of Bobby Jones spread via newspapers and movie new clips. No one had cell phones or digital cameras to catch and memorialize Jones exploits. It's hard to imagine such a world as I sit here playing virtual poker on a us casinos online website. I still occasionally go to a land based casino, but it is so much easier to gamble online at a number of different US player friendly casinos via my computer and more recently via my mobile devices. I wonder what Bobby Jones would think of our technological world. Sports figures have become celebrities in our modern day culture. Bobby Jones comes from a very different mold of athlete than such "professional" athletes as Tiger Woods, Tom Brady, David Beckman, or Michael Jordan. No million dollar endorsements for Bobby Jones. Just one exception golfer who lived his life on his terms.
The film begins and ends in St. Andrews as Jones speaks to an assembly of the citizens there who have just honored him with The Freedom of the Burgh, which was presented to only one other American, Benjamin Franklin. The speech is known as the "Friendship Speech" because it was about the honor of being confirmed as a friend of the historic town that bookends Jones' remarkable career.
To tell Jones' story, the film producers will convey the rich tapestry of life from the turn of the century through the Great Depression (a "look-and-feel" not unlike Chariots of Fire). Stroke of Genius will require a precise, classic piece of film-making. The film must thrill viewers as Jones thrilled the fans of his day. He chose to be remembered for "how he played the game," with a sense of style and pride that few have ever brought to life. And we will capture this.
During The Fat Years, from 1923 until 1930, Jones played in 53 tournaments. He won 29 and finished second 11 times. His bold move during the glorious Summer of 1930, during which he won four majors, provided him an exit from the sport he loved, and the career that was draining him. He retired to spend time with his growing family and close friends, and to focus more attention on his practice of law.
While Jones went on to build Augusta National, serve in the Army, and become friends to presidents, kings, and fans worldwide, it is this Summer of 1930 which marked in many ways the zenith of his remarkable career. These weeks are the main focus of the film.
The story is told by Bobby Jones' constant companion, O.B. Keeler, a sportswriter for the Atlanta Journal. Keeler and the famed Grantland Rice figure prominently in the narrative, as does an unknown shepherd from St. Andrews.
In the end, Stroke of Genius is like a lot of other great sports films. Many will know the outcome before they start watching. What makes Jones an enduring character is the sacrifice, the humiliating losses, the struggle to overcome, and the tenacity to be principled in pursuit of the goals that guide us. We care about him, because he cared about us: from the coal miner, Sid Roper, who nearly put him out of his quest for the Grand Slam, to all the fans who crashed in on his privacy at nearly every turn.
Jones may very well have been the last great amateur athlete. He truly played for the love of the game. Indeed, his may have been, as one writer wrote, "the most triumphant journey any man ever traveled in sports." It is a story that must be told.
The team at Bobby Jones Film, LLC takes great pride in being chosen by the Jones family to tell it.