By John Torsiello K.C. Jones thought the game of golf was easy.
“I went out with (Bob) Cousy and (Bill) Russell one day because they were always playing and I wanted to see what was so great about the game,” said the man who has a remarkable 12 championship rings, 11 from his days as a point guard for the marvelous Boston Celtic teams of the 1950’s and 1960’s, and then as their head coach in the 1980’s “I made a par on the first hole and thought `this is easy.’ Well it was all downhill from then on.”
That didn’t stop Jones from pursing the little white sphere in earnest for the next 45 years. He stuck with it and became a somewhat proficient player. He’s a common sight at celebrity and charity events throughout the Northeast and beyond.
Jones, who is now 74, doesn’t play for score. Oh, he enjoys a booming drive or birdie as much as the next guy. But what truly inspires him to play is something more aesthetic in nature.
“For me, its five hours of meditation and I enjoy that the most. Getting up early and going to the golf course surrounded by beauty and peace and quiet is really what excites me about the game.”
Jones and his lovely wife, Ellen, make their home in the Hartford area, where K.C. represents the University of Hartford as a sort of goodwill ambassador and special assistant to the school’s athletic director.
By the way, K.C. (that’s his given name) got his name from his father, who was named after the legendary railroad engineer Casey Jones.
We know Jones best from his days as a feisty point guard for the Celtics from 1958-1966. During that time the boys in green won a remarkable eight NBA titles, led by K.C., Russell, Cousy, Tommy Heinsohn, Sam Jones, John Havlicek and others.
Jones wasn’t one to seek the spotlight. He took pride in his ability to handle the ball and get the rock to his teammates where and when they wanted it. He was also a superlative defender who rose to the occasion against the top guards the game, like Jerry West and Oscar Robertson.
“I remember one game I shut West down pretty good and was bragging about it a little afterwards,” said Jones with a laugh. “He must have got wind because the next game he goes wild on me. I didn’t talk too much after that.”
Jones went on to coach the Celtics in the 1980’s winning another two titles. He also won a ring as an assistant with the Los Angles Lakers in their dream season of 1971-72, and served as the coach of the Hartford-based New England Blizzard of the now defunct women’s American Basketball League. Oh yeah, he won a gold medal at the 1956 Summer Olympics in Melbourne, Australia and was a member of the University of San Francisco teams that won back-to-back NCAA titles in 1955 and 1956.
Jones was selected to the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 1989. Celtic great Larry Bird once said of Jones, “He’s the kind of person I’d like to be, but I don’t have the time to work at it.” A real life American “hero,” Jones also served in the U.S. Army during the late 1950’s.
An avid and fairly accomplished singer who appears at Hartford area clubs performing with a group called “Legacy,” Jones fills his days with golf.
“It seems like he’s playing every day of the week,” said Ellen Jones, who tries her hardest to keep track of her still very active husband, who has bounced back nicely from a couple of illnesses in recent years.
“I love playing up at The Ranch whenever I can. There are two holes I love especially, the par-five ninth and 16th holes. You can really hit a tee ball and have it roll well over 300 yards downhill. It’s fun.”
Jones also enjoys playing at Bloomfield, Ct.’s Gillette Ridge Golf Club and Wintonbury Hills Golf Course, two new daily fee layouts, and likes Avon Country Club and the Hartford Golf Club.
Jones had the pleasure of playing the famed Pebble Beach Golf Links in California recently.
“I was given a gift from a friend and being out there really blows you away. I’ve also been to Scotland and played St. Andrew’s. The thing I remember the most about St. Andrew’s is the people walking across the fairways on their way to work or their beach. The course is right in the middle of town.”
Jones is a big fan of Tiger Woods.
“Tiger is totally fabulous. He does a wonderful job getting kids involved and it would be wonderful to see more African-American kids get into the game. Tiger is an awesome role model for anybody. He carries himself with class and dignity.” Just like K.C. Jones has always done.