National golfing group chooses local venue for 2012 open

What’s in a name?

Every year since 1979, a group of golfers (all named Bob Jones!) have gathered for an annual charitable golf tournament called the Bobby Jones Open. This year, the 34th annual tournament returns to Michigan from 2001’s event in California. It is being played in Grand Rapids on June 11-13 at Thousand Oaks Golf Club, with participants traveling from near and afar to experience West Michigan.

This is a wonderful way to support local businesses and introduce Grand Rapids to individuals from all over the United States. The group will stay at the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel, golf at Thousand Oaks Golf Club, enjoy a Tuesday night event at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park, and Douglas Photography in Rockford was hired to take the official group picture. The tournament’s roots are in Michigan, where the annual tradition began and has been played a number of times throughout the years. This year is the first time the event will be played in West Michigan.

Hosting this year’s event from Rockford are Bob and Diane Jones. Bob (known as “Arjay” amongst the group of many Bobs, each of whom must choose a nickname to eliminate confusion) and Diane will welcome the group to their Rockford home the Sunday evening before the tournament for a kick-off barbecue, with the able assistance of son John (10) who has become an unofficial mascot for the annual tournament. John’s claim to fame is that this year will be his 11th tournament in his 10 years, given that his first year of attendance was four months before he was born.

The tournament is played in tribute to Robert Tyre “Bobby” Jones, who is considered the greatest amateur golfer ever. In 1930 at the age of 28, Bobby Jones won the U.S. Open and British Open and the U.S. and British amateur championships. To date, no one has duplicated that record. He continues to hold a number of other unbroken amateur records to this date. Sadly, he was stricken with Syringomyelia, a disorder of the spinal system, which eventually led to his death in 1971.

The Bobby Jones Open is committed to providing continuing support for Syringomyelia research, rehabilitation or related subjects in a relentless search for a cure for this crippling disease. As of August 2011, the organization has raised over $270,000. More than 350 Bobs from at least 38 states and four countries have participated in the tournaments.

Any Robert, Bob, Bobby or Roberta Jones interested in joining the Bobby Jones Open are welcome. Each “Bob” may also bring guests to the event. For additional information or if you would like to make a donation and learn more about the organization, visit the website at www.bobbyjonesopen.com.

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