|Robert Trent Jones,
Fox Hollow Golf Course
Fox Hollow Golf Course
official web site
Robert Trent Jones, Sr. has
surely earned a place in golf's pantheon. Over a period spanning seven
decades, he has designed (or re-designed) some 500 golf courses in over 40
states and 35 countries. It is not only the quantity of his work that
impresses, however; it is also the number of enduring golf courses he has
created, and the fact that he never tires of turning them out.
He was born in 1906 in Ince, England, a town on the Trent River - from
which his middle name derives. He came to the States in 1911 and settled
down in East Rochester, New York. A fine golfer in his own right, he held a
few jobs as club pro and teacher and even competed in several professional
events. He became the first person to study expressly for a career as a golf
designer. He fashioned his own program of study at Cornell University,
drawing upon courses in landscape architecture, agronomy, horticulture,
hydraulics, surveying, public speaking and economics.
Just as he was ending his studies in 1930, however, the course design
business ground to a halt thanks to the Depression. Trent formed a
partnership with Canadian architect Stanley Thompson and helped on two of
his most famous projects, Capilano in Vancouver and Banff in the Canadian
Rockies. Trent also did six low- budget courses on his own that incorporated
W.P.A. labor. The partnership ended in 1938, but it was not until after
World War II that Trent's work flourished. Along the way, he and his wife,
the former Ione Teftt Davis, had two children, Robert, Jr., in 1939, and
another son, Rees, in 1941.
Trent was a founding member of the American Society of Golf Course
Architects in 1947. Beyond his considerable abilities as a visionary of golf
land, he acquired a well-deserved reputation as a brilliant salesman and
promoter. He had an uncanny ability to meet the right people and to
cultivate relationships with the giants of industry, and in some cases, the
kings of countries.
Trent made his reputation after World War II with a handful of
high-profile projects. He worked with Bobby Jones on Peachtree (1948) in
Atlanta, a course that launched the broad-shouldered, heavily sculpted power
golf look that defined the postwar years. Trent also worked on Augusta
National, transforming the 11th and 16th holes from indifferent to bold and
memorable. And he became a national celebrity in 1951 owing to his complete
redesign of Oakland Hills-South Course for the U.S. Open that year. While
retaining Ross' routing and his green sites, he filled in all of Ross'
fairway bunkers at Oakland Hills, moved them back to the 230-270 yard range
off the tee, and created "a Monster" out of what had been a much more modest
if always sound layout.
Trent's reputation was made. He became "The Open Doctor" - the man to
whom clubs turned in prepping their course for a U.S. Open. In quick
succession, he worked such major venue as Baltusrol-Lower Course,
Olympic-Lake, Southern Hills, Oak Hill, and Congressional.
When it came to employing earth-moving equipment, Trent held nothing
back. If the site was completely flat, such as with the course he came to
own in Fort Lauderdale, Coral Ridge CC, he simply create massive lakes on
the property and used the excavated earth to elevate tees and greens. At
Mauna Kea in Hawaii, he routed a course through an ancient lava flow; there
he invented the method of crushing the lava to make the soil, a method that
was copied by others working in Hawaii. He built Dorado Beach in Puerto Rico
on nothing but a base of sand. And on the Italian island of Sardinia, he
literally broke new ground, and defied expert advice in the process, by
pulverizing the on-site granite and using it for top soil.