Robert Trent Jones (1906 - 2000)

ASGCA, Charter Member; President 1950

Born: Ince, England

The following is an excerpt from "The Architects of Golf" by Geoffery S. Cornish and Ronald E. Whitten (1993)

Robert Trent Jones moved to the United States with his parents in 1911. He became a scratch golfer while still a teenager and set a course record at the age of sixteen while playing in the Rochester City Golf Championship. He was low Amateur in the 1927 Canadian Open. Jones attended Cornell University, where he followed a course of studies personally selected to prepare himself for a career in golf course architecture. Completing this program in 1930, he undertook additional courses in Art. At Cornell he designed several greens at the Sodus Bay GC in New York. The course was subsequently remodeled, but two of his greens were retained by the club as the earliest examples of Jone's work.

In 1930 Jones became a partner with Canadian golf architect Stanley Thompson in the Firm Thompson, Jones & Co., with offices in Toronto and New York. These two architects were profoundly influential in the nearly universal acceptance of strategic design in North America. Jone's often quoted philosophy was that every hole should be a hard par but an easy bogey.

By the mid-1960's Robert Trent Jones had become the most widely known and probably the most influential course architect in history. He served as architectural consultant to numerous courses hosting major championship tournaments, many of them courses of his own design. By 1990 he had planned over 450 courses in play in forty-two states and twenty-three countries and had remodeled many others, logging an estimated 300,000 miles by air annually in the process.

Jones and his wife, the former Ione Tefft Davis of Montclair, New Jersey, raised two sons, Robert Jr. and Rees, both of whom followed their father in the practice of golf architecture. He was the author of many essays of golf course architecture, including contributions to Herbert Warren Wind's The Complete Golfer (1954), Will Grimsley's Golf Its History, Events, and People (1966) and Martin Sutton's Golf Courses Design, Construction and Upkeep (2nd ed., 1950). The Sutton work featured several of Jone's freehand sketches of golf holes. In 1989 his long awaited autobiography, Golf's Magnificent Challenge, co-authored with Larry Dennis, was published.

He was also the subject of countless articles, the most significant of which was Wind's profile in The New Yorker of August 4, 1951, which established the profession of golf course architecture on a higher level of public awareness.

Robert Trent Jones was the first recipient of the ASGCA's Donald Ross Award for outstanding contributions to golf course architecture. He became an advisory member of the National Institute of Social Science, a member of the American Academy of Achievement and recipient of its 1972 Golden Plate Award, and was granted membership to the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews. In 1981 Jones was given the William D. Richardson Award by the GWAA in recognition of his consistent outstanding contributions. That same year the Metropolitan Golf Association presented him with its Distinguished Service Award. In 1987 the GCSAA honored him with its Old Tom Morris Award.

By 1990 Trent Jones had been engaged in golf course architecture for sixty years, a record that exceeded even that of Old Tom Morris. By then, his principal associate, golf architect Roger Rulewich, was handling the bulk of the workload. But the name Robert Trent Jones was still the most recognizable in golf, and that year two courses were named in his honor, one a new design, one an existing course (The Robert Trent Jones Golf Course at Cornell University). Also that year Jone's company was awarded the largest golf design contract in history, a series of 54-hole daily-fee complexes in Alabama for Sunbelt Golf, Inc., financed in part by that state's public-employee retirement system. Today, the Robert Trent Jones Trail is one of the most popular destinations for golfers around the world.

 

Jones' Early History
1929 - 1940

1929 - Designed Sodus Bay GC (only 2 greens remain)

1930 - Jones finishes at Cornell University

1931 - Designed Midvale G&CC, Penfield, NJ w/ Stanley Thompson (18)

1931- Remodeled Locust Hill CC, Rochester, NY

1931 - Remodeled Stafford CC , Stafford, NY w/ Stanely Thompson

1934 - Designed Durand-Eastman Park GC, Rochester, NY (18)

1934 - Designed Teresopolis GC, Brazil w/ Stanley Thompson (9)

1935 - Designed Norris Estate, St. Charles, Illinois (no longer exists)

1935 - Designed Green Lakes State Park GC, Fayetteville, NY. Remodeled since then (18).

1935 - Remodeled Montclair GC, Montclair, NJ

1935 - Remodeled Garden City CC, Garden City, NJ

1936 - Remodeled Bonnie Briar CC, Larchmont, NY w/ Stanley Thompson

1936 - Designed Pottawatomie Park, St. Charles, Illinois (9)

1937 - Designed The RTJ GC at Cornell U., Ithaca, NY (Additional 9 in 1953)

1938 - Designed Amsterdam Muni, Amsterdam, NY (18)

1938 - Remodeled Vestal Hills CC, Binghamton (no longer exists)

1938 - Remodeled Niagara Falls CC, Lewiston, NY

1939 - Remodeled CC of Ithaca (no longer exists)

1940 - Designed Duke Estate GC, New Jersey (no longer exists)

1940 - Remodeled Valley View GC, Utica, NY

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