by Neale Nickels
Director of Preservation
It’s April in Georgia. The smell of tea olive and jasmine is in the air; dogwoods and azaleas are in full bloom; and droves of people fly in to Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport as they make their way to see these and other plants, and perhaps a little golf, at Augusta National Golf Course. Many of them take a mile or so detour on the way to pay respect to the man who dreamed up The Masters, Mr. Robert Tyre Jones, Jr. Bobby Jones was buried at Oakland Cemetery in 1971 and since then, fans have visited his gravesite regularly. However, Masters Week is always a popular time at Oakland Cemetery.
This week, folks on their way to watch the practice rounds got a behind-the-scenes look at the kind of work that goes in to maintaining a gravesite. Like so many of the headstones in Oakland, Mr. Jones and wife Mary’s headstone had sunken to one side and to the back. There wasn’t a concern that it could fall and be damaged, but recently the PRO Team has been working to restore the area around the gravesite, which we refer to as (no surprise) The Bobby Jones Area. With the increased fanfare and expected visitation this week, we wanted to make sure the Jones lot is well-presented.
The process involves erecting scaffold around the stone, which supports a large I-beam. A trolley is attached to the beam, which rolls along its tabs. From the trolley, we hang a chain hoist capable of lifting about 2,000 lbs. Heavy straps are wrapped around the die, or top part of the stone, and it is lifted off the base. The trolley allows the die to be moved out of the way with ease. Then the base is moved using the same technique. Next, we use a tamper to make sure the ground is well-compacted, and then add crushed stone to level the site. We tamp the stone as well to make sure the angular pieces lock with one another. The base and die are then reinstalled using the same process in reverse. These pictures show the process to this point:
Next, the PRO Team will clean the stone using a solution designed specifically for safely removing biological and environmental staining from the stone’s surface and within. The product we use will actually continue to clean the monument for months to come. The small joint between the base and die will also get some attention in the form of pointing, or applying a lime-based mortar to the joint, which will help stabilize it and give it a professional, finished look.
If you visit Bobby Jones this week, please check out the work we’ve done around his gravesite and consider donating so that we can restore the rest of the Bobby Jones Area! Also inquire about our recently updated Bobby Jones Conference Room in the Bell Tower, which is available to rent for private events or meetings.
During Masters week, our neighbors across the street at Six Feet Under Pub & Fish House offer the Bobby Jones cocktail (sweet tea vodka and lemonade). When you order a Bobby Jones and keep the promotional glass, all proceeds are donated to Historic Oakland Foundation’s efforts to preserve and restore the Bobby Jones Area.
Additionally, our Visitors Center and Museum Shop has a wide selection of golf-related items priced 10% off, April 4 through April 10.