Sundials - World's Oldest Clocks

North American Sundial Society

With the Masters Tournament playing in Augusta and the return of Tiger Woods, many golf enthusiasts think back to other great players.  One of the greatest was Bobby Jones.  John Steinbreder writes about a sundial in his honor, "Another reminder of Jones here [at the Augusta National Golf Club] is a small bronze statue just 18 1/2 inches in height that is part of a working sundial outside the Member Golf Shop and just across from the first tee. The effigy boasts a rich, brown patina and etched across the lower part of the sundial are the words: 'Slow Back, Time Right.'

Back in the 60's Pete Pascale found the statue and dial in a scrap metal dumping ground in Erie, Pensylvannia.  After cleaning and repairing the statue, he gave it to Rick and Hank DeDionisio who ran Ricardo's Restaurant in Erie.  The brothers were avid golfers and in turn presented the figure and dial to their Downing Golf Club.  As Steinbreder writes,"...the brothers and club hit upon the idea of offering the statue to Augusta National, because of their admiration of Jones. They asked John May, a senior editor at Golf Digest, to act as an intermediary, and the journalist contacted Roberts in a letter dated May 18, 1972. Some time later, the Sundial took its place outside the Member Golf Shop."

Read about August National and the Sundial at: http://www.goerie.com/sports/20180406/erie-residents-helped-iconic-sundial-reach-augusta-national

It is believed that Edwin E. Codman, the English artist crafted the piece in the 1930s, using Jones as the model for the figure. Codman spent the early part of his life in England working at the Gorham foundry, creating small exquisite bronze sculptures.  In 1931 he moved to Dorset, Vermont where he and his wife lived quietly until his death in 1955.  Looking at history, Bobby Jones won fame between 1923 to 1930, culminating with the Grand Slam that included the British Amateur and British Open.  It is very plausible that Codman made the sculpture and sundial in 1930 to recognize the fame of this retiring golfer.

The real story behind the Bobby Jones sundial is ultimately instructive for the world of golf: In Augusta, it doesn't tell correct time, even solar time.  If Codman made the sundial in the UK, it explains the angle of the golf club shaft, closer to the latitude angle of London at 51 degrees rather than 42 (Erie, PA) and certainly not 36 degrees (Augusta, GA).  This may be confirmed by the face of the dial, where the hours span from 4am to 8pm, allowing for the variation of sunlight in England, not Georgia.

So the joke is on all those golfers who look to the Bobby Jones sundial, as the only time telling device on the course: it has never told correct time (except for noon) in Augusta and never will.  It would be fun to get a rubbing of the dial face to prove it runs on London time.