Robert Trent Jones, Sr. did not invent golf course architecture, it only seems that way. In a career that spanned nearly 70 years, Jones built or rebuilt some 400 courses in 45 states in the U. S. and 35 countries worldwide, with more than three dozen of them having played host to national or international championships.
Jones made an art form of heroic architecture, institutionalizing the risk-reward shot in modern courses. With his oft-quoted philosophy to make every hole a hard par but an easy bogey, he also had a profound impact on tournament golf. Jones built or remodeled some of the most muscular courses the pros have ever faced, including Firestone, Hazeltime, Spyglass Hill, Baltusrol and Oak Hill. In his early years Jones’ designs often engendered criticism as too severe, and the complaints reached a crescendo when he remodeled Oakland Hills for the 1951 U.S. Open. When a victorious Ben Hogan boasted of having brought that “monster to its knees” and Herbert Warren Wind followed with a laudatory – and widely read – article in The New Yorker, Jones was introduced to a mass audience, and the cult of the golf course architect was born.
Jones’ first masterwork came in 1948 when he collaborated with Bobby Jones on Peachtree Golf Club in Atlanta (to avoid confusion, Jones adopted the name Trent, from the river in England, and it stuck). Peachtree had all the design features that would become Trent Jones hallmarks: enormous, subtly-contoured greens that offered a host of pin positions, expansive tees that permitted numerous setups, unobtrusive hazards and a fanatical devotion to preserving the land’s natural beauty.
Jones, who spent his final years confined to a wheelchair, held sway in 2000 at 93. After having a stroke, he awakened in his hospital bed to see his two sons at his bedside. What are you doing here?” he questioned. “You had a little setback,” he was told. “You had a stroke.” “Do I have to count it?” he asked.
Copy derived from Robert Trent Jones, Sr. plaque at the World Golf Hall of Fame. Read more >