Happy Birthday JB Carr

Happy Birthday J.B. Carr

(1922 - 2004)

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It is hard to believe ‘Pop’ as we called him left us 20 years ago at the age of 83.

I often think of him when I look at where the game of professional golf is at present and the effect it is having on the image of the game worldwide. I can just hear him saying ‘this is nonsense – put them all in a room together and tell them to work it out for the good of golf’.

As great a player as he was winning over 40 championships and many awards, the one award he treasured most was the Bobby Jones award. The award which he received in 1961 ‘recognises an individual who demonstrates the spirit, sportsmanship, personal character and respect for the game exhibited by Jones , winner of nine USGA championships. It is the highest honour bestowed by the USGA’.

Past recipients include the greats of the game, Ben Hogan, Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Gary Player, Tom Watson and Annika Sorenstam.

JB Carr Bobby Jones Award and Letter From Bobby Jones

The single biggest attribute and at the very heart and soul of golf is ‘integrity’. We are our own judges in a game where it is so easy to cheat. But cheat and get caught and that reputation and stain will stay with you like the branding on a cow for the rest of your life, no matter where in the world you play. Mark McCormack the creator of modern day sports marketing and my mentor at IMG, always said, ‘if you want to know a person’s personality and if you want to do business with him or her, play a round of golf with him. You will know after that’. It is so true.

I was once sent out by the commissioner of the European Tour to catch a fellow pro who was suspected of cheating. During the round the other member of the three ball and I witnessed three blatant infractions, the last moving the ball one foot closer to the hole on a 40 foot putt!!. When I informed the player that I was not signing his card because of the three infractions we had witnessed and that he would be disqualified and banned from playing, he looked at me incredulously as if he had done nothing wrong. I realised then that something in his brain did not register correctly.

My father was a stickler on the rules and on sportsmanship. He made sure we all knew our rules and the etiquette of the game and regarding sportsmanship he often said it’s just as important to be a gracious winner as a good loser. Many times I witnessed his opponents thanking him for the hiding they had just received in match play because he was such a humble and gracious winner.

We have been lucky with our great players past and present and especially with Rory McIlroy who demonstrates these qualities. Rory has called for the game to come together again as one, just as my father would have done if he was around today. Let’s hope the current and next generation of players do the ‘right thing’ for the game as there is plenty of money to go around for all.

I love this game and the way it deals with those that do not adhere to the principles of integrity and sportsmanship. The ‘greats’ get their kiss goodbye from the game like Nicklaus and Tiger did at Augusta, Harrington with his Open wins and Tom Watson at Turnberry when he nearly won the Open at 60 years of age. It has been cruel to those that haven’t always done the right thing over the years. The Pros on tour know who they are. It is why I believe Rory will one day win the Masters to fulfil his lifetime ambition of joining the elite Grand Slam club. It’s the way the game works and will continue to work in my opinion.

The great amateur superstars of yesteryear like Bobby Jones, Michael Bonallack and my father set the standards for today’s modern game and for that we have a lot to be proud of and thankful for.

We miss you Pop.

Roddy Carr
22 February 2024

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