Understandable if Nashville’s Blades Brown, the 16-year-old who this month broke Bobby Jones’ standing as the youngest-ever low medalist at the U.S. Amateur, has fallen a little behind in his school work.
“I’ve got to be back to school (Brentwood Academy) tomorrow,” he said Sunday morning, standing alongside East Lake’s first tee before the start of the final round of the Tour Championship.
“And I have to do some homework now. I’ve got some history I have to do. I have to write an essay,” he said. “My attendance-to-absence ratio has been about 4:7. It’s been really cool but my mom says I don’t care if you’re Tiger Woods, get your schoolwork done.”
East Lake Golf Course, of course, was the home track of the great Jones, a five-time U.S. Amateur winner and Grand Slam champion in 1930. Given the link he now enjoys with Jones and the lessons he received in the East Lake clubhouse, Brown really should be able to put in for some history extra credit after this visit.
Jones was 18 when he was the low medalist in the 36-hole qualifying stroke play that precedes match play in 1920. Brown beat that by two years on the strength of a second-round 64 at the Colorado Golf Club.
His given first name really is Blades, coming from his mother’s maiden name. Rhonda Blades Brown was a basketball star for Vanderbilt and the New York Liberty, who has a historical distinction of her own – she made the first 3-pointer in the WNBA in its start-up season of 1997.
Her boy made five 3s of his own on his way to that 64, including a pair of eagles.
And what a great, Tin Cup-ian name for the top of a leaderboard – Blades Brown. “Perfect for hockey or golf, one of the two,” Brown said. He chose well.
Brown’s Tour of the East Lake Clubhouse included a tour of all Jones’ hardware. Along the way, here was something he learned: “I didn’t realize the U.S. Amateur trophy now was a different one than when he won it. He had the only original in his possession and it was destroyed in a fire (the East Lake clubhouse burned down in 1925).”
Being 16 and forever linked to an iconic figure like Jones only gets better the more the kid learns. “For my name to be mentioned in the same sentence with Bobby Jones is incredible. Not many people get to say that,” Brown said.
His favorite current player is Jordan Spieth, who in 2015 became the youngest-ever FedEx Cup champion here at East Lake at 22. So, there’s another mark for Brown to aim for.
Meanwhile, he has one little corner in the golf history books all to his own with that U.S. Am stroke play performance. “Records are made to be broken,” Brown said with a smile, “so maybe someone will break my record – in 103 years.”