The story of the new and improved Bobby Jones Golf Course in Buckhead started with a set of clubs back in 1985.
Two of the founding partners of the Atlanta law firm Alston & Bird ambled into Marty Elgison’s office. They said Ely Callaway with Callaway Golf wanted to put Bobby Jones’ name on his golf clubs. A young attorney, Elgison handled intellectual property for the firm.
The two men — Buster Bird and Arthur Howell — were two-thirds of the law firm Jones, Bird and Howell. Buster Bird was my grandfather. The Jones in that equation was Bobby Jones’ father, Robert P. Jones. The younger Jones joined the firm as well, but the “Jones” on the letterhead belonged to his father. After merging with Alston, Miller and Gaines, the firm became Alston & Bird.
hat’s why the call came in to the partners. Well, that and the fact Jones died in 1971. Elgison found a deal with Spalding from 1940, but Georgia law favored the Jones estate. They reached an agreement to create Bobby Jones-branded golf clubs with Callaway, with the royalties going to Jones’ heirs.
Ever since that fateful day, Elgison has served as the legal steward of the trademarked name of Georgia’s greatest sportsman.
Next week, Augusta National Golf Club will host the Masters, the major tournament Jones created at his beloved course. Closer to home in Buckhead, where Jones lived most of his life, Elgison has led the transformation of the only golf course bearing his name.
A native Atlantan, Robert Tyre “Bobby” Jones won his first golf tournament when he was just 13. In 1930, he won the Grand Slam, holding the British Amateur, the U.S. Open, the British Open and the U.S. Amateur titles in the same calendar year. While the names of the majors have changed, he is the only person to this day to accomplish that feat. He retired from competitive golf when was 28.
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