Robert Trent Jones 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. Still, the numbers tell only part of the story.
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, Hazeltine, 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.