Died: June 14, 2000 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida at age 93
President: 1950 - 1951, American Society of Golf Course Architects
Robert Trent Jones Sr. was a prolific American golf course architect / designer. Jones' philosophy when it came to course design was, "every hold should be a hard par, but an easy bogey."
In 1911, when he was five years old, Robert Trent Jones immigrated with his parents to the United States. He grew up in East Rochester, New York. He was introduced to golf and an early age and was a skilled amateur.
Jones became the first golf professional for Sodus Bay Heights Golf Club, Sodus Point, NY. Sodus Point is located about 40 miles from East Rochester. The course opened in 1924.
Jones attended Cornell University in Ithaca, NY, located about 75 miles from East Rochester and Sodus Point.
Jones was allowed to design his own course of study to become a professional golf course designer, taking courses in landscape architecture, agronomy, horticulture, hydraulics, surveying, public speaking, and economics. During his time at Cornell he redesigned several greens at Sodus Bay Heights Golf Club. Two of his greens remain, and they are the earliest examples of his work. While at Cornell he drew up the designs for what would become the back nine of Cornell's Robert Trent Jones Golf Course, which opened in 1941. Jones returned in 1954 to complete the front nine.
Jones left Cornell in 1930 and formed a partnership with Canadian architect Stanley Thompson. He contributed to the design of several courses in Canada, including Capilano in Vancouver and Banff in the Canadian Rockies. Several years later he began his own business designing and building local golf courses in America. Many of these, such as the 1936 course at Green Lakes State Park (were built using labor provided by the Works Progress Administration.
Jones, in collaboration with golf legend Bobby Jones, designed the Peachtree Golf Club in Atlanta. Some say that this commission put Jones on the map as the "go to" golf course designer. Robert Trent Jones began using his middle name "Trent" shortly after the completion of Peachtree Golf Club to help alleviate confusion with golf great Bobby Jones.
Jones' courses are noted for their artistic landscaping, elegant bunkers and sprawling greens. Jones' greens were generally made up of four different sections that offered a multitude of pin placements. He enjoyed surrounding his greens with large amoeba shaped bunkers and water hazards and believed that golf should be a no risk; no reward sport, his designs encouraged daring play.
Jones continued working well past usual retirement age, often working on several courses at the same time. Following a period of failing health, he retired to his home in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. He died there peacefully just a few days short of his 94th birthday. Jones final sole designed course was Anglebrook Golf Club located in Westchester, NY in 1996. He went on to co-design a few courses with his son Rees Jones and Robert Trent "Bobby" Jones, Jr., who followed in his footsteps. His final collaboration before his passing was The Marshes in Ottawa, Canada, with Robert Trent Jones, Jr. which was finished after his death in 2000.
In 1987 Jones received the Old Tom Morris Award from the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America, GCSAA's highest honor and he was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame.