Chapter Thirteen: The End of the Trail
387 “She is survived by Trent” Obituaries for Ione Davis Jones (1912-1987) appeared in both Montclair, NJ, and Ft. Lauderdale, FL, newspapers. Tributes to her were also paid in some of the golf magazines. The parts of her obituary that were omitted in the text of this book read: “She was secretary and treasurer of the William Baldwin Golf Construction Company, and vice president and treasurer of both Llangolf, Inc., and Robert Trent Jones Inc. She was also vice president of Landlords Inc. and Federal Golf Inc., treasurer of the American Golfers Club, treasurer of Golf Inc Management Services, secretary of the Contour Construction Co., Inc., and treasurer of the American Golf Course Construction Company. She was vice president and treasurer of Coral Ridge Golf Course Inc., in Ft. Lauderdale. . . . For 25 years, beginning in 1962, she was nanny, sponsor, patron, and ramrod of the Doherty Challenge Cup women’s amateur fixture at the family-owned Coral Ridge Country Club in Ft. Lauderdale. She was friend to all the contestants and they were just a segment of a wide range of friends. . . . Outside of golf she was involved in charitable, civic, and historical organizations and her college, Wells, from which she graduated with Phi Beta Kappa honors, twice bestowed upon her singular recognition for her continued support.” Clearly, Ione left her own legacy distinct apart from her husband’s renowned career. Although her attendance at golf functions and tournaments may have been seen by most people just as a dutiful wife playing her part but, in truth, Ione also had become a great friend of the game and those who played it.
Her funeral at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Montclair would have been better attended if not for her death occurring at the end of a long July 4th weekend and the start of many summer vacations for New Jerseyites. Still, there was a nice turnout of friends and associates, especially by ladies in Ione’s bridge club, a card-game that she loved even more than golf, had taught Trent how to play while they were dating (he never got very good at it), and vigilantly kept playing even in her last weeks of life after she was put on oxygen to help her breathe. Several Wells College alumni living in the area also attended, as did the president of Wells College, Dr. Patti McGill Peterson. Many who didn’t make it to her funeral sent notes and letters to family members, paying their respects and relating how much they admired and loved Ione. Of course, many of the respects came from people who were primarily clients, friends, or acquaintances of Trent. Among them were New Jersey’s U.S. Senator Bill Bradley and Georgia’s Senator Sam Nunn; Japan’s wealthiest man, Yoshiaki Tsutsumi; Hassan II, King of Morocco; Prince Shah Karim Al Husseini, the Agha Khan; Lawrence Rockefeller and his wife Mary; Dave Thomas, the Wendy’s founder; and Jaime Ortiz-Patiñ0, the billionaire owner of Sotogrande. Naturally, too, came cards and letters from several members of the American Society of Golf Course Architects, including Geoffrey Cornish and Paul Fullmer, the ASGCA executive director; a host of golf writers and USGA officials, past and present, notably Joe Dey; and PGA Tour players from several generations including Lew Worsham, Sam Snead, Ben Hogan, and Jack Nicklaus. An especially touching letter came from Trent’s old friend Gene Sarazen, who had lost his own wife, Mary, just the year before.
388 “succeed in much of anything at all” RTJ, Just Me, Trent Jones, p. 87.
389 “but he didn’t anymore” RLJ, Boston, MA, to author, telephone interview, 14 Oct. 2013.
390 “letter to my son explaining my actions” “Last Will and Testament of Ione Davis Jones,” signed by Ione Davis Jones and witnessed by James L. Ridley and Susan W. Flanagan, Fort Lauderdale, FL, 3 Apr. 1987, pp. 3-5. Copy in Ione Davis Jones Files, JP, CUA.
390 “would inherit only if Rees died and left no descendents” ibid., pp. 5-6.
391 “the remaining trust principal to my son, Rees Lee Jones” In a personal note to his attorney Blake Stafford in Feb. 1989, Robert Trent Jones Jr. wrote about the possibility of a Wells College settlement: “I spoke with my father; he had a meeting with Wells College plus the fact that 70 people came to the Board meeting to support Wells and hear him talk. He stated that he worked it out with the man from Rochester NY we thought was a lawyer and head of the board of trustees of something like that. [The chairman of Wells’s board of trustees at the time was David M. Lascell.] Carlisle [Russell E. Carlisle] can specify. He indicated that the man from Wells said that he thought it was going to be okay as proposed which was to pay the $100,000 as my mother’s intended gift and my father said he would help build some golf holes with them but a little unclear as to one a year or two a year or something like that. His only concern was the State of New York laws which would cause them to not be able to negotiate a settlement of that kind. They intended not to challenge the main issues on a Constitutional basis. That was the best I could gather from my father, so that’s that.” Robert Trent Jones Jr., note to Blake Stafford, Palo Alto, CA, n.d, [ca. Feb. 1989], in Files of Robert Trent Jones II. Palo Alto, CA.
392 “confirming my intent and that of the Jones family to continue as benefactors of Wells College” RTJ Sr., Robert Trent Jones, Florida, Inc., Fort Lauderdale, FL, to David M. Lascell, Esq., Chairman, Board of Trustees, Wells College, Aurora, NY, 20 May 1988, Wells College Files, JP, CUA. Trent signed the letter “Robert Trent Jones,” even though the typed name below his signature read “Robert Trent Jones, Sr.” The author cannot recall seeing any documents in the Jones Papers where he signed his name as “Sr.”
392 “the Personal Representative of my estate” Last Will and Testament of Ione Davis Jones, pp. 13-14.
393 “The letter did no good” RTJ Sr. to RLJ, 22 June 1992, in RLJ Files, JP, CUA.
394 “Here is a copy of the letter we mailed just this morning” Fax, copy of letter from RTJ Sr. to RLJ, 10 Belleclaire Place, Montclair, NJ, 21 Feb. 1994. Cover sheet “For the Attention of Bobby, From Marge,” 9:30 A.M., 22 Feb. 1994.
394 “in trust as co-trustee with his father until Trent’s death” In a deposition on a legal matter pertaining to Coral Ridge in 1990, Rees explained how his father came to be his co-trustee of the Coral Ridge stock that had belonged to Ione: “How did you happen to become co-trustee of stock in Coral Ridge? a lawyer asked. “My mother left me the stock.” Question: “To you and your father?” Answer: No.” Question: “Do you know why your father is co-trustee of that stock?” Rees: “Because I have allowed him to be so.” Question: “You made him a co-trustee?” Rees: “Because he asked for it.” Question: “When would that have been?” Rees: “Oh, 1989 or ’88. It is in essence for the voting right.”Deposition of Rees Lee Jones in the Circuit Court of the 17th Judicial Circuit, Broward Country, FL, James B. Singerling , Planitiff vs. Robert Trent Jones, Sr., et al., Defendants, Plantation Florida, 23 Jan. 1991, pp. 21-22.
395 “After she died, things changed pretty dramatically” RTJ Jr. to author, Palo Alto, CA, 29 Oct. 2012.
395 “That’s how he got to be manager of Coral Ridge” Deposition of Rees Lee Jones in the Circuit Court of the 17th Judicial Circuit, Broward Country, FL, James B. Singerling , Planitiff vs. Robert Trent Jones, Sr., et al., Defendants, Plantation Florida, 23 Jan. 1991, pp. 12-15.
396 “trying to do the best interests of the club” Deposition of Robert Trent Jones, Sr., in the Circuit Court of the 17th Judicial Circuit, Broward Country, FL, James B. Singerling , Planitiff vs. Robert Trent Jones, Sr., et al., Defendants, Plantation Florida, 27 Sept. 1990, pp. 78-79.
396 “But not totally” ibid., pp. 78-82.
396 “personal borrowing from club accounts” ibid., p. 84.
397 “its related corporations as appropriate” Memorandum from Paul Colwell to Jim Singerling, 11 Jan. 1985. In this memo Colwell, serving as an attorney for Rees Jones and his father, made reference to the 6 Oct. 1984 meeting of the Coral Ridge board in which the formal resolution was passed to reserve certain major decisions for the Board.
397 “no authority or right to do what he was doing” Deposition of Robert Trent Jones, Sr., in the Circuit Court of the 17th Judicial Circuit, Broward Country, FL, James B. Singerling , Plantiff vs. Robert Trent Jones, Sr., et al., Defendants, Plantation Florida, 27 Sept. 1990, p. 104.
398 “like a son” Deposition of Robert Trent Jones, Sr., in the Circuit Court of the 17th Judicial Circuit, Broward Country, FL, James B. Singerling , Planitiff vs. Robert Trent Jones, Sr., et al., Defendants, Plantation Florida, 27 Sept. 1990, pp. 56-57, 70-71.
398 “do you recall getting advice that you should not be president of both the design corporations and the construction corporations” This is one of the most interesting threads of questions asked of Trent Jones in his deposition by James Singerling’s attorneys—that which concerns his use of shadow companies. Question for Jones: “Do you recall anyone advising you that it was not to your advantage to be president of both the design corporations, which would be Robert Trent Jones Inc. and Robert Trent Jones, Florida, and as well the construction company, which would be Florida Golf Corp.?” Jones: I’m trying to think. I don’t think – No, I don’t think so. There was at one time where I was told they might be in conflict with one another, and that’s when we dropped it.” Question: “When you say that’s when you dropped it, what do you mean by that?” Jones: Well, we separated the corporations from construction. I didn’t want to have them in conflict with one another.” Question: “And as a result of that, do you recall getting advice that you should not be president of both the design corporations and the construction corporations?” Jones “I don’t remember that.” Question: “Do you recall that being the reason that you requested that Mr. Singerling be made a president of Florida Golf Corp.?” Jones: “No.” ”Deposition of Robert Trent Jones, Sr., in the Circuit Court of the 17th Judicial Circuit, Broward Country, FL, James B. Singerling , Planitiff vs. Robert Trent Jones, Sr., et al., Defendants, Plantation Florida, 27 Sept. 1990, pp. 68-69.
Clearly, Singerling’s attorney was suggesting to Jones that he made Singerling the president of Florida Golf Corp. to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest—an issue that Jones was very well aware of over the course of his long career. Without knowing the identities of all the individuals who served as presidents of Jones’s shadow companies—over 75 of them, by Jones’s own account—it is impossible to say if all of them had real expertise in the design and/or construction of golf courses. But Singerling certainly knew enough about Jones’s corporate arrangements to tell his attorneys about how Jones had avoided the conflicts of interest in the past. Honestly, it seems to this author almost irrelevant whether Singerling actually possessed the actual technical qualifications to be president of one of these companies. Perhaps if he hadn’t acted like he did, Jones would not have had such a problem with him on this score.
398 “Singerling’s subsequent 20-year-plus career” On James Singerling’s career after leaving Coral Ridge, see Dave White, “Jim Singerling’s Legacy: Leader, Educator, Mentor, Visionary, Friend,” The Boardroom (Jan./Feb. 2007): 26-28. Singerling’s resumé after leaving Coral Ridge is impressive. During his 22-year tenure as CEO of Club Managers Association of America, the CMAA’s Business Management Institute grew from offering three programs annually to 33 on seven university campuses. He also did a great deal to put The Club Foundation, the charitable arm of the private club industry, on solid footing by finding it a permanent $3 million endowment. Apart from his leading role with the CMAA, Singerling has also served on the Board of Directors of the Alexandria (VA) Chamber of Commerce and on the Board of Trustees of the Alexandria Symphony Orchestra. He has also accepted nomination to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Committee of 100, the country's most prestigious group of chief staff executives. In 1998, the University of Nevada at Las Vegas, home of the largest four-year undergraduate hospitality program in the world, honored Singerling as Industry Leader of the Year. In 2002 Michigan State University's School of Hospitality Business Advisory Board selected him as its Industry Leader of the Year.
398 “the place my father was happiest” RLJ quoted in Randall Mell, “Jones Fight Over ‘Hallowed Ground,’” Fort Lauderdale SunSentinel, 30 May 2006.
398 “work out of my apartment” RTJ, Just Me, Trent Jones, p. 90.
399 “lot easier for the local people to run it” RLJ quoted in Mike Seemuth, “The Course May Rise Again,” Fort Lauderdale Magazine, 13 May 2013, accessed on 14 Oct. 2013, at flmag.com/features/course-may-rise-again.
399 “spent more time in France” Most of Trent Jones’s French projects were located in far southern France. While Ione was still alive, his company, Robert Trent Jones International, had started a big project near Montpellier, the third largest French city on the Mediterranean coast after Marseille and Nice. Located at the bustling seaside town of La Grande Motte, which lay between the Mediterranean Sea and the two arms of the Rhone River delta, by 1988 Jones had finished three layouts for the resort: “Les Flamants Roses” “Pink Flamingoes”), a regulation par-72 eighteen that stretched to 6,701 yards; “Les Goelands” (“Large Seagulls’), a par-58 executive course; and Les Mouettes (“Small Seagulls), a six-hole practice course. Also for Golf de la Grande Motte, Jones built a large practice green with 50 possible pin positions and a number of bunkers from which to hit practice shots, a 6,600 square foot putting green, a pitch and putt, and a golf school. The tourist officer for La Grand Motte calls its 42-hole facility “the first in this style in Europe. “I visited there at least ten times, inspected the work as it progressed, and made any changes that became obvious during construction,” Jones would later recall.
During the same years, Jones built 27 holes at Golf de Moliets. Once again Jones was blessed with a spectacular site on which to make his mark Located on the Bay of Biscay in southwestern France roughly halfway between the luxurious seaside town of Biarritz and the large port city of Bordeaux, the site for the golf course bordered the Atlantic while being set mostly in a century-old forest of very tall pine. There by 1988 he finished a layout known as the “Hapchot” measuring 6,750 yards which would come to be ranked as one of the 25 most beautiful courses in Europe and (by Golf Digest) as the 68th most beautiful golf course in the world. In most ranking it remains to this day one of the top ten courses in France. The other nine holes that Jones built there was “Le Cutyot,” a par-31 course of 1,856 yards, with one par-five, two par-4s, and six par-3s, the longest of the latter being 189 yards.
Another course built by Jones in southern France in the late 1980s in France was Valescure Golf l’Estérel in the town of Saint-Raphaël, on the French Riviera between Cannes and St. Tropez. Again, Jones could not have asked for a more magnificent piece of land, though he could have used more acreage. Overlooking the blue waters of the bay of Agay, the golf course drew its name from the coastal mountain range that rose majestically over Saint- Raphaël. Jones visited this course many times during its construction and it is no surprise why. The property lay in the heart of a trendy resort on the French Riviera where vacationers who played golf were seduced by the pronounced topography of the red volcanic rocks that rose in rugged outcroppings around the golf course and the beauty of the umbrella pines typical of the Mediterranean region. Finding tight fairway corridors nestled in narrow valleys between the hills, Jones carved a “shortish” but demanding par-71 course that was 6,400 yards long. For those interested in playing more than one course while sunning on the Riviera, Golf l’Estérel, when finished in 1992, partnered nicely a hotel on the property and with an existing golf course at nearby Valescure. Sometimes confused with Jones’s design at Esterel, this earlier course dated back to 1895 (and thus was the fifth oldest course in France), when H.S. Colt created the par-68, 5,203-yard layout for a colony of wealthy Englishman led by Lord Ashcombe that inhabited Valescure as their winter health resort. (The official listing of golf courses designed or redesigned by Robert Trent Jones, Sr., that has been kept up to date in recent years, and which is used as the basis for the official list of Jones Sr. courses publicized by the Robert Trent Jones Society, includes both Golf de Valescure (18 holes, 1989) and Golf Esterel (18, holes, 1992). From this author’s research, this appears to be in error. Jones designed an 18-hole course at Golf de l’Estérel but it does not seem that he build a second course at Saint-Raphael. The only Golf de Valescure in existence seems to be the H.S. Colt design done in 1895.)
Also on the Côte D’Azur, at Mandelieu, near the fortified 14th-century castle known as Château de la Napoule, Jones in 1991 finished the Golf de Riviera, a pleasantly undulating parkland course featuring numerous and quite lush fir trees that played quite short at 5,953 yards at par 71. Originally, the course, developed in association with luxury apartments, was known as Golf de Riviera. Later, its name was changed to Golf Cannes Mandelieu, perhaps because the earlier name made golfers think they would get some wonderful views of the Mediterranean Sea, which they didn’t, even though the harbors and beaches of the Côte D’Azur were not much more than a mile away. Today, the course is known as Riviera Golf de Barbossi. Still no Mediterranean in sight but a Roman aqueduct from ancient times passes by the layout to the north.
Jones did one other course on land that flew the French flag. This was Golf de Sperone, which was built on the island of Corsica and opened for play in 1990. “The first time I saw this land,” Jones later recalled, “I was reminded of the cliffside characteristics of two of the finest courses in the United States: Pebble Beach and Cypress Point.” Golf de Sperone “depicted the merger of land sea” in the same way that “these unique courses” on the coast of Northern California brought forth their own “magical quality.” The “combination of the natural terrain and the breathtaking beauty of the sea” made the Corsican course “a rare and memorable spot” for Jones, and he loved to look at pictures of the course as its construction progressed (RTJ, Just Me, Trent Jones, p. 93).
399 “Benedetti SA” Benedetti SA was an independent French-based golf construction firm founded by Michele Benedetti (born in 1941, the same years as Rees Jones) and which since its establishment in 1969 had built some 100 European golf courses. The association between Benedetti and Jones dated back to the early 1980s when Benedetti’s company built Trent’s Chamonix course. Not only did Benedetti have the contracts to do Vidauban’s construction (for which Jones still owed him a great deal of money in the early 1990s), the savvy French building entrepreneur also had the jobs to Jones’s other courses on the Mediterranean.
400 “It’s been a disaster” Deposition of Robert Trent Jones, Sr., in the Circuit Court of the 17th Judicial Circuit, Broward Country, FL, James B. Singerling , Planitiff vs. Robert Trent Jones, Sr., et al., Defendants, Plantation Florida, 27 Sept. 1990, p. 57, 59, 60, 62, and 73.
401 “We’re trying to weed them out right now” ibid., p. 101, 193, 121.
401 “malpractice suit against attorney Russell Carlisle” See Beth Ann O’Neill, Kelly Drye & Warren, 2400 South Biscayne Blvd., Miami, Fl, to Blakeney Stafford, Edq., Fenwick & West, 2 Palo Alto Square, Palo Alto, CA, “Re: Carlisle vs. Robert Trent Jones, Sr.,” 14 Feb. 1991, Files of Robert Trent Jones II, Palo Alto, CA. The following is what the author knows about this case. Carlisle, a Fort Lauderdale attorney, sued Jones for payment of due legal fees. The amount was around $20,000. Jones counter-sued, charging Carlisle with malpractice for what he considered to be Carlisle’s misrepresentations to him about James B. Singerling. Essentially, Jones felt that Carlisle and Singerling were “in cahoots.” Trent was also upset about Carlisle getting him to sign a document that made him part of a golf course project in Louisiana, asserting that it was one of the documents that the lawyer “made him sign.” [The golf course may have been Santa Maria Golf Club in Baton Rouge, which opened in 1987.] The problem for Jones in his malpractice suit against Carlisle lay in the fact that the jurisdiction for the case was Broward County. The court-appointed mediator for the case was a retired circuit court judge, one who had been given an award a few years earlier by the president of the Broward County Bar Association, which just happened to be Russell E. Carlisle. Jones and his attorney—in this case, Blake Stafford, who Trent’s son Bobby had brought in to help from California—wanted to go after Carlisle but Broward County, Florida, was not going to be a place to successfully do it. As it turned out, Carlisle, in his suit against Jones, had attached some property belonging to Jones up in Orange County, New York. That was a big mistake made by Carlisle to make, because Trent’s attorney, Blake Stafford, had a friend up in New York State who was a great lawyer and he represented Jones in a counter-suit against Carlisle. Jones ended up winning the case and in his claim had asked for Carlisle to pay all of the costs of his legal fees. As it happened, Carlisle carried a considerable amount of malpractice insurance. Jones was awarded over half a million dollars. So not all of his legal troubles turned out badly for him.
402 “she was all but begging for help” Email, RGR to author, 24 Oct. 2013.
402 “Is she still alive?” Telephone interview, Blake Stafford, Palo Alto, CA, to author, 30 Aug. 2013.
402 “Ipswich, Massachusetts” Telephone interview, Blake Stafford, Palo Alto, CA, to author, 30 Aug. 2013. On the Ipswich lawsuit, the author also saw Mitch Zimmerman, Law Firm of Fenwick Davis, Palo Alto, CA, Notes to “TELEPHONE CONVERSATION WITH MITCH ZIMMERMAN, NOVEMBER 4, 1991” and “MEETING IN WASHINGTON—NOVEMBER 7, 1991,” Files of Robert Trent Jones II, Palo Alto, CA. There were three lawyers for the meeting in Washington, D.C., about the prospects of the case. Two attorneys were from Fenwick Davis: Mitch Zimmerman and Preston Scott. The other attorney present was Dean Calland, a “Superfund Lawyer from Pittsburgh.” The notes were prepared by Mitch Zimmerman for his senior partner Blake Stafford.
403 “so Jones had to pay the entire amount” As for the Ipswich golf course, “The course is still as beautiful as it was when I built it,” Jones would later say. After the recession eased, the members got together, invested their own money, and reopened the course.
403 “involved an EPA ‘Superfund’ pesticide cleanup” In 1991 the Environmental Protection Agency issued a cleanup plan for the pesticide dumps that had been on the Farm Chemicals property that had been co-owned by the J. D. Farrell and Robert Trent Jones Sr. In 2003, the EPA issued the site’s Preliminary Close-Out Report, documenting the completion of all the operations necessary to implement the site’s cleanup plan. Another Five-Year Review was completed for the site in 2013. For additional information , see “Aberdeen Pesticide Dumps,” on the EPA website, accessed on 23 Oct. 2013, at http://www.epa.gov/region4/superfund/sites/npl/northcarolina/abepestnc.html.
403 “had been a major chemical dump” In 1930 the Taylor Chemical Company had gotten the property from Woolfolk Farm Chemicals Company. Woolfolk had been established near the end of World War I by a prominent member of the nation’s War Industries Board who had been charge of overseeing the production of sulphur for military explosives. Woolfolk Farm Chemicals that came before, Taylor Chemical mainly manufactured pesticides, shipping products nationwide. How Farrell and Jones met is unknown—it was likely through golf connections at Pinehurst—but in 1965 when they purchased the property, they did so as “tenants-in-common,” which meant that the two men technically owned all of the land together.
404 “Country Club of North Carolina” Rees Jones would redesign the Dogwood course at the CCNC in 1977 and again in 1984. In fact, his father sold some of his neighboring land to the Country Club so it could build a second eighteen, known as the Cardinal, the first nine holes of which opened in 1970 and the second, which Trent Jones himself designed, in 1980. Interestingly, for many years prior to the EPA Superfund suit, Trent considered his Aberdeen property as a specific “legacy” that he would be giving to Rees. RTJ, GMC, p. 21.
404 “some big heartburn” Telephone interview, Blake Stafford, Palo Alto, CA, to author, 30 Aug. 2013.
405 “tending this case as closely as we did” ibid.
405 “legal bills for the year 1994 alone” The biggest part of the legal bill owed to Fenwick & West t still related to Vidauban, over $81,000. Over $73,000 pertained to Aberdeen and the North Carolina toxic cleanup. Some $13,000 related to Ipswich. Over $13,000 was needed to cover legal work involved with a $1 million debt that Jones still owed Jimmy Patiño.
Jones was especially peeved about the litigation involving his old friend Patiño. In a letter dated 5 July 1994, Trent wrote to Patiño: “Your judgment in the amount of $1,004,042.07 filed against me in the public records of Broward County is a constant source of concern and embarrassment. I would propose that you withdraw the judgment from the public records as being satisfied in full in view of my extensive efforts on your behalf in the construction of Valderrama and related golf courses. As you know, I derived little or no profits from these ventures. I treasure our friendship which I wish to maintain and trust you will agree to this proposal.” At the bottom of this letter is a handwritten note from Jones’s attorney Louis DeReuil dated 8 Aug. 1994 that read: “RTJ wants to send a stronger letter to Mr. Patiño. He will call Blake and discuss it with him. “Blake” referred to Blake Stafford, Bobby’s lawyer in California, who, as we have seen, had by now been representing Trent Jones on many matters. It is not clear to the author whether Patiño let Jones off the hook for the money. Trent was Patiño’s guest for the 1997 Ryder Cup Matches at Valderrama, which suggests some sort of rapprochement.
Additional insight into what Trent owed to Patiño can be gleaned from a memorandum for record prepared by Trent’s attorney Louis J. DeReuil on 21 June 1994: “Patiño retreated from his $700,000 counter-offer and he remained at the previous offer of $500,000. He would not move off this figure despite my contentions. I proposed that if he was firm at this figure that Jones is entitled to claim as a credit against the $500,000 the overpayment of principal of $83,000 such that Jones would owe $417,000 additional. Patiño said that this seemed reasonable to him and he would discuss this settlement with his Trustees. Patiño added that since Bob Jones had rejected the $28,000,000 offer, that Bobby should pay the $417,000 [Author’s emphasis]. At this point, Trent concurred. Patiño repeatedly urged that he wished to remain friends with Trent; he again invited Trent to stay with him at Valderrama for the Ryder Cup, and that he would quickly respond to the $500,000 proposal. The meeting ended on a cordial note. Following the meeting, Trent and I [DeReuil] felt that Patiño would accept the $500,000 proposal with credit for the overpayment.”
The sentence above in italics about Robert Trent Jones Jr. rejecting a $28 million offer refers back to Vidauban and an offer that Patiño had made to buy the entire Vidauban property from Trent for $28 million. According to Patiño, Trent in the early 1990s was prepared to accept this offer, but “Bobby came in and stopped it. He stopped it because he thought it was worth much more. He wouldn’t let his father sign the papers.” Ortiz- Patiño to author, Atlanta, GA, 10 Aug. 2011.
405 “Jones saw environmentalists” In his environmental views, Trent Jones Sr. was typical of most golf course architects of his era: his primary objective was always to build a great golf course. In Jones’s last decade of life, however, the 1990s, with questions regarding golf’s impact on the environment increasingly being asked by citizen and environmental advocacy groups, representatives of the golf industry, including a handful of golf architects, participated in an unprecedented series of summit meetings involving a number of leading environmental organizations including the National Wildlife Federation, Sierra Club, Friends of the Earth, and National Coalition Against the Misuse of Pesticides, as well as with representatives from the EPA. In 1996, after two years of meetings moderated by the Utah-based Center for Resource Management, the two sides agreed on what came to be known as “Environmental Principles for Golf Courses in the United States.” Organizations who participated in the process and endorsed the principles document included the USGA, Golf Course Superintendents Association, National Golf Foundation, Golf Digest magazine, and the American Society of Golf Course Architects. The two most active golf archit4ects in the “golf and environment movement,” as it came to be called were William R. Love of College Park, MD, and Dr. Michael J. Hurdzan of Columbus, OH. In 1996 Dr. Hurdzan published a lengthy textbook treatment of Golf Course Architecture: Design, Construction, and Restoration (Sleeping Bear Press), which was deeply imbued with the new environmental principles. The same was true for Bill Love’s 1999 booklet, An Environmental Approach to Golf Course Development, which was published by the ASGCA. Trent Jones did not participate in any way in the meetings between golf organizations and environmental groups that led to the principles document. It is hard to imagine that Jones, at his age, and with old-school views on the golf industry’s situation vis-à-vis environmental groups, even moderate ones, could have participated constructively. Neither of Trent’s sons participated in any of the meetings, though they were kept informed of their progress through their membership in the ASGCA.
The author is proud to remember his attendance as a neutral third-party observer at these meetings, beginning with the inaugural summit held at Pebble Beach in January 1995 and continuing over the next year and a half at meetings at Pinehurst, Nebraska City (NE), and Orlando. It was the author’s participation in these meetings that first inspired him to study the history of golf courses and to begin writing and lecturing in the U.S. and abroad on golf and the environment.
A history of golf and the environment in the U.S. abroad needs to be written. Such a book might look also into the history of the Asian-based “Global Anti-Golf Movement,” which goes by the richly descriptive acronym “GAG’M.” Many of the concerns of this “movement,” whose activities seem have calmed down in recent years, involve issues of land, water, and the displacement of peoples and cultures. Most golf organizations do not take the arguments of GAG’M seriously (for example, “Laws should be passed to prohibit the advertising and promotion of golf courses and golf tourismJ, these are issues that golf development does indeed face, wherever it goes, including in recent years the building of many American-style golf courses in the People’s Republic of China.
A highly provocative essay on “Golf and the Environment: Wildlife Refuge or Toxic Fairway,” was published by Bradley S. Klein in his 2006 book Rough Meditations (Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.), pp. 92-96.
406 “does create a great deal of difficulty for people trying to build golf courses” RTJ, GMC, p. 121.
406 “fulfilling the first stage of Jones’s original intent” For a more complete history of the development of Robert Trent Jones Golf Club, see the fine club history written by David Thomas, The Robert Trent Jones Golf Club (Chicago, IL: Triumph Books, 2010.).
407 ”one of the great tests, hole by hole” RTJ, Just Me, Trent Jones, pp. 93-94.
407 “exquisite residential community to open in 1987” David Thomas, The Robert Trent Jones Golf Club, p. 22.
407 “Bobby P. Russell” RTJ, Just Me, Trent Jones, p. 94.
407 “destined to host a major championship” The quoted phrase is from a Memorandum to Files written by Robert Trent Jones, Jr., on 22 Aug. 1988. In the memo, Bobby wrote the following about Bobby Russell’s idea of the Lake Manassas golf course becoming the permanent home of the U.S. Open: “I personally don’t think it would be a practical idea.” Files of Robert Trent Jones II, Palo Alto, CA.
407 “ease the difficulty of the USGA going around” W. Clay Hamner, Chairman, Montross Capital Corporation, 2200 West Main St., Suite 900, Durham, NC, to Robert Trent Jones, P.O. Box 24099, Fort Lauderdale, FL, and Bobby Russell, 305 Madison Ave., Morristown, NJ, Robert Trent Jones Golf Club Files, JP, CUA.
408 “independent free standing course in perpetuity are our partners” Thomas, The Robert Trent Jones Golf Club, p. 20.
408 “first general partner was the Bishop Estate itself” ibid., p. 22.
408 “Rees would take over the design of the golf course” ibid., p. 24.
408 “brought in some $25 million from the Bishop Estate” The involvement of the Bishop Estate as the major developed behind the financing of the Robert Trent Jones Club nearly backfired, and not just on the Estate itself. In 1996 two members of the golf club filed a lawsuit accusing the Estate, and particularly trustee Henry Peters, of fraud, breach of duty, and conflict of interest. There were threats of additional lawsuits and talk of bankruptcy filings. Many members of the club, including some of Washington’s most influential business and political leaders, were incensed over the way the Bishop Estate was handling the club’s membership fees and general financial situation. Early in 1997, the lawsuit was dropped when both sides agreed to restructure the terms of the club's transfer to club members, that transaction having been at the heart of the lawsuit. Under the new deal, members received a more favorable, long-term lease on the club with an option to buy. They also obtained protections for a portion of the property that many feared might be developed with townhomes.
This was one lawsuit that did not target—or even really much concern—Trent Jones, though he did enjoy an honorary lifetime membership to the golf club.
409 “used the money to pay for raising the dam” Thomas, The Robert Trent Jones Golf Club, p. 24.
410 “won the day every time” Telephone interview, RGR, Bernardston, MA, to author, 29 Oct. 2013.
410 “flowing look of a golf course” RTJ, draft of GMC, quoted in Thomas, The Robert Trent Jones Golf Club, pp. 24-25.
411 “in no year since the monitoring began” See, for example, Manassas Utility Connection, “City of Manassas 201 Water Quality Report,” 20122, accessed on 30 Oct. 2013, at http://www.manassascity.org/ArchiveCenter/ViewFile/Item/3818.
411 “did not work out for a lot of legal and technical reasons” Telephone interview, RGR, Bernardston, MA, to author, 29 Oct. 2013.
411 “didn’t want the players to think of it as a hazard” RTJ, Just Me, Trent Jones, p. 94.
412 “hugging the tree to make a point” RTJ, Just Me, Trent Jones, p. 94; telephone interview, RGR, Bernardston, MA, with author, 30 Oct. 2013.
412 “may turn out to be the best course I ever built” RTJ, Just Me, Trent Jones, p. 94.
412 “suitable memorabilia” B. P. Russell to RTJ, Breakwater Tower #1611, 1900 South Ocean Blvd., 2 Apr. 1991, Robert Trent Jones Golf Club Files, JP, CUA. Two months later, Russell wrote again to Trent Jones, saying “My friend, we really and truly need your help with the Jones Room. O.K.” Russell to RTJ, 5 June 1991.
413 “the ambassador of Australia” RTJ, Just Me, Trent Jones, p. 94.
413 “he personally pledged $100,000 to his alma mater” On Trent Jones Sr.’s pledge of $100,000 to Cornell made during the dedication ceremonies for the Robert Trent Jones Golf Course at Cornell University in 1991, see Laing E. Kennedy, Director of Athletics, to RTJ, 21 Oct. 1991, Cornell University Golf Course Files, JP, CUA. It is not clear to the author whether the pledge was ever fulfilled.
414 “But I couldn’t get them to bite” Dr. David G. Bronner quoted in David Earl, “A Win-Win Situation for Alabama Golf,” USGA Golf Journal 44/3 (May/June 1991):44.
415 “I had some chemistry with this guy” Bobby Vaughan, talk to the Robert Trent Jones Society, Marriott Grand National, Opelika, AL, 7 Oct. 2013.
415 “Where could you get it?” ibid.
415 “a model for speed of construction” ibid.
415 “I’m coming up for a visit” ibid.
416 “looking for a stimulating effect for Alabama” Bronner quoted in David Earl, “A Win-Win Situation for Alabama Golf,” USGA Golf Journal 44/3 (May/June 1991):44.
417 “I represent a pension fund” Dr. David G. Bronner, talk to the Robert Trent Jones Society, Marriott Grand National, Opelika, AL, 8 Oct. 2013.
418 “How crazy was our notion” Vaughan, talk to the Robert Trent Jones Society, Marriott Grand National, Opelika, AL, 7 Oct. 2013.
418 “What to do we need to pull this thing off?” ibid.
419 “not a better guy in the world than Roger Rulewich” ibid.
419 “the brand and the key to our success” Bronner, talk to the Robert Trent Jones Society, Marriott Grand National, Opelika, AL, 8 Oct. 2013. Golf World ran its cover story on the building of the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail in its 18 Sept. 1992 issue. The story was entitled “Going Public: Golf Course Construction Takes New Direction,” 49-53.
419 “one of the thrills of my life” RTJ Sr. quoted in David Earl, “A Win-Win Situation for Alabama Golf,” USGA Golf Journal 44/3 (May/June 1991):42.
422 “we bring them all the Robert Trent Jones Trail” Bronner, talk to the Robert Trent Jones Society, Marriott Grand National, Opelika, AL, 8 Oct. 2013.
422 “little spots, too remote” ibid.
423 “a great story for the history books” Email, Bobby Vaughan to author, 5 Nov. 2013. How much manna from heaven fell into Trent Jones Sr.’s lap thanks to the Alabama Trail contracts is not known exactly. But the cost of building all those courses is known, at least in terms of “ballpark” figures. SunBelt built the first eighteen golf courses—“all in” for the inaugural seven sites—for roughly $102 million. Preparing each one of the first four sites having 54 holes (Birmingham, Huntsville, Mobile, Opelika/Auburn) cost on average roughly $18 million per facility (for a total of $72 million). The average cost of the inaugural three 36-hole sites (Anniston/Gadsden, Greenville, Dothan) was $10 million per facility (for a total of $30 million). Through much of his career, Jones, for his architect’s fee, had asked for 10% of the overall cost of building the course, but clients acceded to that formula only into the 1960s—and in some cases not for that long. Rather, Jones would negotiate with the client a fixed fee for his design services. Bobby Vaughan was a tough negotiator and for its designs of the first round of Trail courses Jones’s company received somewhere between $3.5 and $4 million. In addition to the architect’s fee, Jones’s company, Florida Golf, partnered with Phillips & Jordan to build the courses, with Florida Golf doing all the shaping work. The Florida Golf contracts were worth in the neighborhood of $5-$6 million, with which Jones had to compensate a full-time payroll working on The Trail of some 90 people. However much money made it into Jones’s bank accounts because of the Trail, it was enough to pay off his outstanding debts, with some money left over.
423 “Davis identified himself” See, for example, Alan Blake Davis, Chief Operating Officer, Robert Trent Jones Companies, P.O. Box 24099, Fort Lauderdale, FL, to Mr. Jean Kerguen, SA di Golf de Sperone, Domaine de Sperone, 20169 Bonifacio, Corsica, France, 22 Aug. 1990, Golf de Sperone Files, JP, CUA. The job that Davis was sent down to Fort Lauderdale to do as included working with lawyers to handle various matters related to Trent’s estate planning. Interestingly, Davis’s mail also came in to him through a post office box number in Fort Lauderdale and not directly into Coral Ridge. One might speculate that Davis did not want Trent to see all the mail he was receiving. (See See James L. Armstrong III, Kelly Drye & Warren, Attorneys at Law, 201 So. Biscayne Blvd., Miami, FL, to Alan Blake Davis, Chief Operating Officer, Coral Rudge Country Club, P.O. Box 24099, Fort Lauderdale, FL, 11 Feb. 1992, Coral Ridge Files, JP, CUA.) In the position Bobby had placed him, Alan Davis, too, surely knew how much money was coming in to Jones from The Trail contracts as well as from the other jobs that Jones’s companies were doing in the early 1990s. Davis had been placed at Coral Ride to do just that, that was, to use the receipts to pay off debts and direct the rest where it needed to go. However much money Jones had after all his debts were paid off in the early 1990s, where it all went is not at all clear.
424 “Marilyn Gallagher” See Matthew S. McDonald, Memorandum, Robert Trent Jones Companies, 3801 Bayview Drive, Fort Lauderdale, FL, to RTJ Sr., RTJ Jr., and Lou DeReuil, 1 Nov. 1995, Roger Rulewich Files, JP, CUA.
426 “ended on a somewhat somber note” Louis J. DeReuil, “Memorandum, “October 30, 1995,” Roger Rulewich Files, JP, CUA.
427 “Don’t send me any more settlement agreements” RGR, 283 West Mountain Road, Bernardston, MA, to Blake Stafford, Esq., Fenwick and West, Two Palo Alto Square, Palo Alto, CA, 17 Nov. 1995, RGR Files, JP, CUA.
428 “with regard to your departure from my companies” RTJ Sr. to Mr. Roger Rulewich, 283 West Mountain Road, Bernardston, MA, “Re: Settlement Agreement,” 14 Dec. 1995, RGR Files, JP, CUA.
429 “Sincerely, Roger” RGR, 283 West Mountain Road, Bernardston, MA, to RTJ, 3 Jan. 1996, Roger Rulewich Files, JP, CUA.
429 “Our company is in a transition period” Matthew S. McDonald, Robert Trent Jones Companies, to Mr. Ken Morimoto, Anglebrook Limited Partners, Kajima International, Inc., 900 Sylvan Ave., Englewood Cliffs, NJ, 22 Dec. 1995, Anglebrook Project Files, JP, CUA.
430 “One client who received and reacted” Ken Morimoto, Executive Director, Anglebrook Golf Club, Sales Office, 900 Sylvan Ave., Englewood Cliffs, NJ, to Matthew S. McDonald, Robert Trent Jones Companies, P. O. Box 24099, Fort Lauderdale, FL, 4 Jan. 1996, Anglebrook Project Files, JP, CUA.
430 “strongly request that your company resolve this problem” Ken Morimoto, Executive Director, Anglebrook Golf Club, Sales Office, 900 Sylvan Ave., Englewood Cliffs, NJ, to Matthew S. McDonald, Robert Trent Jones Companies, P. O. Box 24099, Fort Lauderdale, FL, 22 Feb.1996, Anglebrook Project Files, JP, CUA.
430 “negotiated by lawyers representing both sides” See Matthew S. McDonald, Robert Trent Jones Companies, to Blake Stafford, fax, “Rulewich Letter Aggrrement,” 2 Feb. 1996, Roger Rulewich Files, JP, CUA. Rulewich received a total of $35,000 for finishing what was left of the Anglebrook job. That amount was to include any salary that Rulewich chose to pay his design associate John Harvey. All to be paid for according to this agreement was Rulewich’s receipted travel expenses.
430 “all leads on course projects while in Jones’s employ” James M. Altieri, Shanley & Fisher, Counselors at Law, 13 Madison Ave., Morristown, NJ, to Mr. Roger Rulewich, West Mountain Road, Bernardston, MA, 4 Jan. 1994, Roger Rulewich Files, JO, CUA.
430 “much less than what it should have been” RGR, Bernardston, MA, to author, telephone conversation, 2 Sept. 2013.
430 “perhaps it all came out about even” RTJ Jr. to author, telephone conversation, 3 Sept. 2013.
431 “regarding my design ideas on a club which I chose to bear my name” RTJ Sr. to Mr. Bobby Russell, 305 Madison Ave., Third Floor, Morristown, NJ, 19 Dec. 1995, Robert Trent Jones Golf Club Files, JP, CUA. See also RTJ to Mr. Bobby Russell, 305 Madison Ave., Third Floor, Morristown, NJ, 19 Dec. 1995, Robert Trent Jones Golf Club Files, JP, CUA.
431 “We can’t promote and sell the Jones name” RTJ Jr., Robert Trent Jones II, 705 Forest Ave., Palo Alto, CA, to Mr. Steve Grob, Dykema Gossett, Detroit, MI, “Re: RTJII/Jones Sr. Joint Ventures,” 24 Oct. 1998, Robert Trent Jones II Files, Palo Alto, CA.
432 “might be fun to make the grand master part of it” RTJ Jr. quoted in Mark Leslie, “Joneses tie design knot, yet remain independent,” Golf Course News 8/4 (Apr. 1996): 1-2.
433 “one of only seven” Website, “The Golf Club at Rancho California,” accessed on 6 Nov. 2013, at http://www.thegolfclubatranchocalifornia.com/.
433 “iconic use of water” RTJ Jr. to author, telephone conversation, 3 Sept. 2013. See also Website, Southern Highlands Golf Club, accessed on 6 Nov. 2013, at http://www.rtj2.com/index.php?option=com_mtree&task=viewlink&link_id=438&Itemid=37.
435 “He just didn’t wake up” The author wishes to thank Dr. Arthur Nadell for granting an interview with him about Trent Jones Sr. in Feb. 2009. All of the Nadell quotes in this chapter are from that interview.
436 “I figure he and Payne are talking right about now” RTJ Jr. quoted in Michael Mayo, “Course Designer Jones Dies,” Sun Sentinel (Broward and Palm Beach News), 16 June, 2000, accessed on 8 Nob. 2013, at http://articles.sun-sentinel.com/2000-06-16/sports/0006160238_1_golf-course-architecture-easy-bogey-robert-trent-jones. See also Associated Press story, “Robert Trent Jones dies on eve of Open,” 15 June 2000, accessed on 9 Nov. 2013, at
437 “misappropriated their father’s title” “Jones Sons in Bitter Flap,” Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel, accessed on 10 Nov. 2013, at http://articles.sun-sentinel.com/2006-10-12/sports/0610111459_1_younger-brother-older-brother-father.
438 “as Whitten noted” Ron Whitten, “The Man Behind Modern Design: Robert Trent Jones had a style all his own,” Golf Digest (June 2000), accessed on 8 Nov. 2013, at http://www.golfdigest.com/magazine/archive-trent-jones-obit-0600.
In the past few decades, many of the Robert Trent Jones Sr. courses that had enjoyed high rankings in “Top 100” and “Best Courses” have fallen out of favor. Only four Trent Jones layouts currently appear on Golf Digest’s list of “America’s 100 Greatest Golf Courses,” and only two of them rate in the top 50—and then just barely, with Peachtree at #43 and Spyglass at #48. The other two Jones courses holding Golf Digest rankings are the Blue Course at Congressional at #77 and Hazeltine National at #94. In contrast, a whopping eighteen different Tom Fazio courses now occupy these lists; ten Pete Dye courses are there; as are six designs each for Jack Nicklaus, five for the team of Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw, and four, the same number as for Trent Jones, for Pete Dye’s protégé Tom Doak. Most strikingly, 47 of the 100 courses on Golf Digest’s list opened for play after 1980, 26 of them after 2000, the year Trent died.
Clearly, the golf courses of Robert Trent Jones Sr. are no longer in vogue as they once were. Perhaps it was that Jones so dominated the golf course business, and with it the type of golf courses that got built, for so many years, and for so many major championships, that a strong adverse reaction against the Jones’s style of golf architecture was bound to set in. The top 100 course listings in today’s golf magazines reflect the impact of that reaction with a vengeance. NOTE: Interestingly, not a single course whose original design was by Bobby or Rees Jones made Golf Digest’s list from 2013-2014. However, Rees has been involved with the redesign of no less than six of the courses on the list, including #24 The Country Club at Brookline, #31 Medinah No. 3, #35 Baltusrol Lower, #42 Bethpage Black, #77 Congressional Blue, and #94 Hazeltine. Of course, Trent Senior was involved with such redesigns as well, a total of six additional on the Golf Digest list: #2 Augusta National, #8 Winged Foot—West, #17 Oak Hill—East, #20 Oakland Hills, #26 The Olympic Club—Lake, and #35 Baltusrol Lower. Five Trent Jones courses make it on Golfweek’s Top 100 (Modern: 1960 and after) list; besides the courses credited by Golf Digest, the Golfweek list includes #71 Eugene Country Club. The Golfweek (Modern) list also includes Bobby’s Chambers Bay Golf Club at #22 and Patriot Golf Club at #45, as well as Rees’s Atlantic Golf Club at #62 and Ocean Forest Golf Club at #83.
The aficionados of golf architecture have come to consider Robert Trent Jones Sr.’s courses too staid, too formulaic, too soulless and uninteresting, invariably long and difficult, with too much emphasis on heroic shots and the power aerial game, and following “a set of ‘rules’ about how holes should be shaped, how hazards should be placed, and so on,” to evaluate them as favorably as they did when his paradigm of modern championship golf was fresh and new. (See Stephen Goodwin, Dream Golf: The Making of Bandon Dunes [Chapel Hill, NC: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 2006], p. 213.) In the 1970s and 1980s, golf course designers led by Dye, Fazio and Nicklaus moved purposefully away from the Jones paradigm, refining their own unique ensembles of beautiful and challenging architectural elements. But in wanting to put their own distinct stamps on their golf courses, most modern architects of that generation followed Jones more than leaving his path. That, too, would come but until the 1990s when a second generation of post-Jones architects, most of them quite young, grew even more bold in their criticisms of golf’s established figures. In that group of influential contemporary golf architects were Bill Coore in the company of his partner from the PGA Tour Ben Crenshaw, Steve Smyers, and Rick Smith, all of whom were Americans, as well as Scotsman David Mclay Kidd, the designer of the original course at what became the wildly popular Bandon Dunes golf resort on the coast of Oregon. But the most vocal spokesman of this new wave was Tom Doak, to some in golf architecture a “boy wonder,” to others the profession’s “enfant terrible/” Ironically, young Tom—born 1961, when Trent was 54—also went to school at Cornell, where he studied landscape architecture. But Doak “was emphatically not schooling himself to become another RTJ,” rather he was “already drawing conclusions about golf course design . . . that would place him at loggerheads” with many modern golf architects, but especially with Trent Jones. Doak’s cardinal principal was not just “minimalism,” as some observers have stated, or his goal simply being “to retain as much as possible the flavor and local character of the land” (ibid., p. 49 and 219). Trent Jones was mostly in favor of that, too. What Doak wanted to do with a golf course was “find the holes” among the existing natural features of the terrain and in choosing and refining that routing put back into play what the modern American golf course had left behind: the ground game; the idiosyncrasies of what one saw and felt on a golf course; the creativity with which one had to play no matter what one’s skill level, the inadvertent bounces and unpredictable rolls, St. Andrews-style pot bunkers, shaggy rather than highly manicured looks and conditions, wildly imaginative green shapes and contours, and many other reborn features of a classic golf links.
This second-generation post-Jones—mostly anti-Jones—movement in golf course architecture has rapidly gained momentum for the past twenty years in the world of golf. Preferences in the golf magazine rankings for the sort of courses being designed by Doak and others of his generation are material ramifications of that momentum, which in turn are the product of media coverage of golf, TV and print advertising, trends in tourism, the internet, and other forces at work in golf and society. Today, if one asked the following question in a national poll of American golfers: “If you had a chance to go spend a week playing golf at any golf course resort in the United States?” no doubt many golfers would answer Pebble Beach or Pinehurst, the top mainstay destinations for high quality resort golf on championship courses. Some would pick anywhere in Hawaii, just because they’ve never visited the Islands. But it is quite possible in today’s golf and tourism environment that the most popular answer would be Bandon Dunes. Why Bandon? Partly perhaps because it is so hard to get there, located as it is on the southern coast of Oregon, near no major city or airport; more and more tourists, especially the most avid golfers (who tend to me the magazine’s golf course raters), seek out remote and faraway places for their vacation destinations.
The chief reason that Bandon would be named would be due to the character of the golf courses found there and the high rankings of its golf courses on every magazine’s “Best” list. As a recent book on the phenomenon of Bandon Dunes, entitled Dream Golf, states: “Ever since it opened in 1999, Bandon Dunes has been one of the stories in golf . . . On a remote stretch of the Pacific Coast, at the edge of beyond, a golf course had appeared—and not just an ordinary course, but a seaside course of great drama, purity, and beauty. Early visitors to the place came back with stars in their eyes, claiming to have discovered a true American links.” Developed by its maverick owner, Mike Keiser, the original course at Bandon was designed “not by a name architect but instead by a young, inexperienced Scotsman, David McLay Kidd.” Keiser told Kidd to build him a “throwback course,” won for walkers only, no golf carts, cart paths, or real estate, for that matter. Just pure golf. Word of the course’s development spread. “Golfweek ranked Bandon Dunes as a Top 100 course before it officially opened,” wrote Stephen Goodwin, the author of Dream Golf. “Golf Magazine had never run a picture of a golf course on its cover—but it ran a picture of Bandon Dunes. Sober, thoughtful golf writers declared the place to be inspirational,” comparing it Pebble Beach and Ballybunion (noting wryly that it was easier for many Americans to get to the Irish links.) In 2001, two years after the Bandon Dunes layout opened, a sister course premiered. Called Pacific Dunes, it was designed by Tom Doak. In 2005, Bandon Trail, a third course, opened, designed by Coore and Crenshaw. A fourth course, “Old Macdonald,” inspired by the classic designs of Charles Blair McDonald, was finished; for it Tom Doak and Jim Urbina led the design team. In 2012, a fifth course, a 12-hole “short course” called Bandon Preserve, opened at Bandon. It, too, was designed by the team of Coore/Crenshaw. In the most recent ranking of Modern (post-1960 designed) U.S, golf courses, Pacific Dunes holds down #2, Old Macdonald #5, Bandon Dunes #8, and Bandon Trails #25. Three other Coore/Crenshaw courses stand in the Best 25: #1 Sand Hills in remote Mullen, Nebraska; #4 Friar’s Head in Baiting Hollow, New York; and #13 is Old Sandwich Golf Club in Plymouth, Massachusetts. Doak has four other courses in the Best 25: #6 Ballyneal (2008) in Holyoke, Colorado; #7 Sebonack Golf Club (2006, with Jack Nicklaus) in Southhampton, New York; #15 Rock Creek Cattle Company (2008) in Deer Lodge, Montana; and #39 Streamsong Resort/Blue Course (2013) in Streamsong, Florida. The architect for the original Bandon Dunes golf course, David McLay Kidd, has one other course on Golfweek’s Best 25 Modern list: #23 Huntsman Springs (2009) in Driggs, Idaho.
Added together, the designers of the Bandon courses possess twelve of the top 25 golf courses on Golfweek’s Modern list, almost one-half. That includes #1, #2, #4, #5, #6, #7, and #8. One of the other courses on the Top 25 was designed by Gil Hanse, who worked many years for Doak. Seven of the courses not designed by the “Bandon architects” were nonetheless designed after 1999. That makes 19 of the 25 courses on the Best 25 Modern list dating from the last 14 years since Trent Jones death. The only Jones Senior course in the top 25 is Spyglass at #21. Bobby’s Chambers Bay course on Puget Sound in Washington, which hosted the 2010 U.S. Amateur and will host the 2015 U.S. Open, is the only other Jones course in the top 25, sitting at #22.
If Trent Jones were alive today, what would he think about the current state of opinion about golf architecture and specifically the general decline in the appreciation of his own golf courses?
First, he would have been disappointed that Mike Keiser did engage him to build one of the courses at Bandon Dunes. No doubt Trent would have pulled out all the stops in pursuit of winning over Bandon’s owner to Jones’s versatility as an architect by inviting Keiser to come with him to take a closer look at the links course that Jones had designed at Ballybunion. A tour of Jones’s New Ballybunion course surely would have impressed Keiser but whether the impression would have been positive or negative is debatable. Most likely there would be no Jones course at Bandon. What we do know with certainty is that Keiser did not ask either Rees or Bobby to lay out a course for his “dream golf destination.”
With no golf course of his own to brag about at Bandon, Trent Jones would no doubt have become quite critical of the courses that did get built there. One of his main criticisms would be directed at the St. Andrews style and other “wilderness style” of bunkering—put bunkers, most of them deep, with rough grassy borders—that has been incorporated not just into new links-style courses like at Bandon but also inappropriately into many parkland courses, is non-sustainable because they are so labor-intensive, and thus expensive, to maintain. Many courses who have them will not be able to afford to keep them and, anyway, most golfers don’t have the skill level to play from them.
Though Trent’s courses had the good fortune of having many of his courses highly ranked by the golf magazines during his career, he would totally reject the current rankings? No way could there be nine courses designed in the United States since his death that were better than Spyglass Hill. Looking at Golfweek’s rankings, for example, no way that Hazeltine was no better than the 93rd best course build since 1960. No way that Bellerive, Mauna Kea, or Robert Trent Jones Club didn’t even make the Top 100. No way that Otter Creek, Golden Horseshoe, North Course at Firestone, or Crag Burn all fall below the top 200 since 1960. No way that not a single course on Alabama’s Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail rates to be in the top 200. Internationally, no way that only three of his courses are among the top 50 in the Caribbean and Mexico, the highest of these (Port Royal in Bermuda) reaching only # 23. In the rankings for Great Britain and Ireland together, no way that Adare Manor and New Ballybunion don’t make the top 40. The rankings, Jones would say, don’t reflect what most golfers think about their golf courses. The men and women who rank the courses for the golf magazines are too taken in by what is new, or conversely too in love with retrograde or “throwback” designs, too impressed with minimalism, too impressed with what’s different and eccentric about golf courses even if those differences cost millions and are unsustainable over the long term, too easily influenced by resorts and golf destinations who bring large groups of course raters to play their courses ar reduced rates or even free of charge. Jones would understand that architectural fashion goes through phases and that even he went through different phases in his own work, but he would not understand why there has been such a strong general reaction against his style of modern golf.
It would please him to point to the new courses being built in China. In the last decade of his life, his company was working on deals that would have led to RTJ courses being built in the People’s Republic, prospects that didn’t work out. But in observing what sort of golf courses have been built in China over the past decade—and that is where most new courses in the world have been built over the past 10 years—Jones would emphasize that the preference of the great majority of Chinese clients has been for the type of golf course that Jones established from 1950 to 1990 as the paradigm of the modern American golf course: long and difficult but with multiple teeing areas, hour-glass fairways pinched by flanking bunkers, lots of water hazards, elevated greens protected by flashing bunkers, large contoured putting surfaces with quadrants for different pin positions, and highly manicured conditions. As much as it had come to impress certain levels of golfers in the United States, the “minimalist” school of architecture reflected in the work of Doak and others, Trent would be happy to perceive, was not taking a hold of the world of golf in the same way.
440 “he announced that the green was ‘eminently fair’” Bobby Vaughan to author, telephone conversation, 5 Nov. 2013.