Chapter Ten: "The Architect the Pros Love to Hate" (Part One)
235 “attention to the Firestone name” Between 1954 and 1959, the Rubber City Open attracted most of the big names on the PGA Tour to Akron, Ohio’s Firestone Country Club. The appeal of the tournament was the promise of an easy setup and low scores. Tommy Bolt won the inaugural event in 1954 at twenty-three under par 265. Arnold Palmer and Doug Ford both went twelve under in 1957; Palmer won with a birdie in a playoff. The following year an 18-year-old amateur sensation from down the road in Columbus, Jack Nicklaus, turned in rounds of 67-66-76-68 for a total of 277, good enough only for a tie for 15th. Art Wall won with thirteen under par, his worst round being a mere 69. The final time the event was played, in 1959—its name changed to the Rubber City Open Invitational—the title went to Tom Nieporte, a member of Ohio State’s 1951 NCAA Championship team. Nieporte scorched the course with rounds of 67-69-65-66, which got him to thirteen under par in his first event on the professional tour. The low scores at Firestone annoyed Harvey Firestone, Jr., the 60-year-old president of the Firestone Tire and Rubber Company and the oldest surviving son of the company’s founder. It exasperated Firestone that even obscure pros, year-in and year-out, could make mincemeat of his golf course. A layout that Time magazine called “the private pasture of U.S. rubber barons” offered nothing more than “a pleasant social sojourn on a workday afternoon” to touring pros. (“Green Pastures,” Time, 1 Aug. 1960, 54.) Harvey and his younger brother Raymond C. Firestone had a grander vision for Firestone Country Club. In just the few short years since the advent of televised golf in the mid-1950s, it had become clear that golf and TV were made for each other. The Firestone brothers envisioned a fortified Firestone golf course promoting the family’s tire business. In the golf boom that was spreading across the country, the Firestones saw an opportunity. President Eisenhower’s highly publicized passion for golf promoted the game, and Arnold Palmer’s charismatic personality and highly exciting style of play captured the sports pages and an adoring public. The explosive growth of television spread the gospel of golf, too, and even in grainy tones of grey, Palmer’s handsome face and energetic swing conveyed the glamour and joy of the game. Ike’s endorsement reinforced the trend of even small towns building public golf courses, and the prospering economy created a market for golf and provided the time for its devotees to play. Larger purses, expanding endorsement opportunities, and major corporate involvement in professional golf pushed tournament golf to unimaginable levels of prosperity and popularity. Determined that the Firestone Tire and Rubber Company would be among the first corporations to take advantage of this golf boom, the Firestone brothers decided to dramatically improve their golf course. They set their minds on transforming their unremarkable golf course—in what many considered to be an undistinguished town filled with unsightly and literally stinky rubber factories—into something worthy of a national championship tournament. On that new esteemed stage, not only would the golf pros come to admire one of the world’s great courses, a big national TV audience would also come to know, and purchase, millions more of the Firestone’s tires.
To carry out the transformation, the Firestones thought only of Robert Trent Jones. In 1957, at Harvey Firestone’s invitation, Jones attended the Rubber City Open that Palmer won. Trent spent his time in Akron scrutinizing the original course, originally designed in 1929 by Bert Way, an English immigrant who had introduced golf not only to Harvey Firestone, Sr., but to John D. Rockefeller as well. The golf course that Bert Way built in the late 1920s had suited Firestone nicely. He wanted a recreational facility which would fit into a master-plan that provided his employees and their families with houses, school, churches, and a public park, all within close proximity of the Firestone plant. The purpose of the 18-hole golf course was not to attract championships or even outside play but rather to serve as an enjoyable and refreshing recreational amenity in Firestone’s planned community. It was “a nice company course” that served well enough for the private use of Firestone’s employees and executives,” but it was not much of a challenge for the country’s best golfers. (Curt Sampson, The Eternal Summer: Palmer, Nicklaus, and Hogan in 1960, Golf’s Golden Year [Villard, 2009], p. 202.) Jones called it a course “with no character” (RTJ to AK, p. 97.) Three decades later, Harvey Firestone, Jr., wanted a golf course good enough to stage a national championship, capable of elevating the reputation not only of the Firestone Tire and Rubber Company but of the city of Akron.
236 “par dropped from 72 to 70” The new Firestone would be, or many years, the longest par-70 course in America on which tournaments were regularly played. In Jones’s view, “it turned out to be a great golf course” (RTJ, GMC, pp. 91-92; RTJ to AK, p. 97 and 99; RTJ, Just Me, Robert Trent Jones, pp. 39-40). Jones knew he had toughened up Firestone significantly, but how much tougher couldn’t be known until the pros began to play the golf course. Firestone’s new array of defenses was as yet untested. Loren W. Tibbals, the general chairman of the 42nd PGA Championship, nervous about what the pros’ reaction might be to Jones’s redesign, wrote Trent on March 9, 1960, four and a half months prior to the 1960 tournament: “As a personal favor to me, Trent, I wish you would sit down and write me a letter telling me your first reactions to Firestone Country Club—back in 1959—or was it ’58?—and then tell me what you set out to do to the course—and why. I want this in your own words…. Please do this quick for me. Time is very important at this stage” (Loren W. Tibbals, the general chairman of the 42nd PGA Championship, Firestone Country Club, Akron, OH, to RTJ, 9 Mar. 1960, in Firestone Country Club Files, JP, CUA.) All of the early impressions were that the course was definitely quite a bit more difficult. (“New Face for Firestone,” Professional Golfer, Jan. 1960, 52-3). In the opinion of Paul Lazoran, an assistant pro at Firestone at the time, “This was a good, but not a hard, golf course before they redid it. . . . They worked one hole at a time, moving tee back, greens back, putting bunkers in the landing areas, and lakes in front of the third and sixteenth greens. Mr. Jones spent a lot of time here…. It was five or six shots tougher when he was done, maybe more” (Paul Lazoran quoted in Sampson, The Eternal Summer, pp. 204-205).
236 “I don’t think it will fit my game” Rosburg quoted in ibid., p. 204. On Saturday, June 11, 1960, six weeks before the tournament, Bob Rosburg, the 1959 PGA champion (he had won at Minneapolis Golf Club), played an 18-hole “Round of the Champion” with 1959 U.S. Open title-holder Billy Casper (who had won at Winged Foot) as part of the PGA-sponsored “National Golf Day.” Joining Rosburg and Casper for the festivities were celebrities Bing Crosby, Phil Harris, and Roy Bolger, the actor who played the Scarecrow in the Wizard of Oz. Trent Jones was also there. He heard someone bet Bob Rosburg, a well-known short-hitter among the pros, that he wouldn’t break 74. As it turned out, Rosburg should have taken the bet. He started with a birdie and an eagle and finished with a 3-under 32 on the front nine. But his play on the back nine—a 3-over 38—was more indicative of how he and the rest of the pros would play Firestone under the duress of tournament conditions.
236 “I want to find out for myself” Arriving in Akron a week before the tournament started, Ben Hogan studied the remodeled layout as meticulously as he had ever done for any golf course. As Curt Sampson wrote in his 1992 book, The Eternal Summer: Palmer, Nicklaus, and Hogan in 1960, Golf’s Golden Year: “From his analysis, Hogan reached one simple conclusion: the course was very long. Not only would he often have to hit a long iron or fairway wood to the green on Firestone’s numbing succession of 460-yard par-fours, but three of the four par-three holes might also require something just less than a driver to reach. This was a four-wood course, Hogan decided.” On the practice range, Ben would hit his four-wood “a hundred at a time,” rarely making his caddy move more than ten yards right or left to shag a ball. (Sampson, The Eternal Summer, pp. 206-7.) Having finished in a tie for ninth a month earlier at the U.S. Open at Cherry Hills, which was only four back from Palmer, Hogan felt that, even approaching his 58th birthday, he might be able pick up his third PGA Championship and tenth major overall. Whatever optimism Hogan and the other 183 competitors had about how their games would hold up under the pressure of a much fortified Firestone, it quickly disintegrated for most of them early in the tournament’s first round.
After the conclusion of the 1960 U.S. Open at Cherry Hills, Trent Jones had observed about Hogan for reporters: “Hogan actually hit 34 consecutive greens before collapsing, and on almost every hole he was putting for birds that didn’t drop. Hogan simply can’t putt any more. He stands over the ball far too long and, I understand, actually counts up to 40 before forcing himself to tap the putt.” Among Arnold Palmer, Jones told them: “Palmer’s self-confidence is fantastic. He has the [Walter] Hagen sense of recovery and composure, in addition to tremendous power.” As for the Cherry Hills golf course, Jones was not overly impressed: “There is no comparison between Cherry Hills and Oak Hills East Course [site of the ’56 Open]. The opening four holes of Cherry Hills are relative pushovers, although the course toughens considerably toward the closing stages. . . . Cherry Hills is a course where big hitters had to play short off some tees to avoid water and other trouble. It is not like Oak Hill, where you can give every shot the gun.” Quoted in Jack Tucker, “Jones Compares Courses: ’60 Open Site No Oak Hill,” Rochester (NY) Herald-Tribune, 24 June 1960.
236 “created yet another monster” In all, 184 contestants confronted Firestone’s lush, back-breaking length and difficulty in the 1960 PGA Championship. Hearing about the “pernicious labors” that Trent Jones had put into the golf course, many of them arrived earlier than usual for practice rounds. Interestingly, even the club’s newly remodeled practice area, with its immaculately tended turf, intimidated some players. (“Green Pastures,” Time, 1 Aug. 1960, 54.) “It was beautiful,” recalled Bob Goetz, a pro from Kansas who had fired the low score (69) in the final round of the ’58 Open at Southern Hills. “Cross-cut bent grass, just like a green. They even had cups in that tee, so you could putt if you wanted to.” So perfect was the turf on the practice range that Goetz and other pros had trouble taking any divots on it. (Bob Goetz quoted in Sampson, The Eternal Summer, p. 208.)
One hundred seventy-five players shot over par; the average score for round one was 76.1. Round two was worse: only two rounds below pars, led by Jay Hebert’s (pronounced Eh-bear’s) 67, and three rounds at even par. The average score on Friday was 76.29. For the final two rounds, the field was cut to the top 93 players. One of the players who missed the cut was the recent winner of the Canadian Open, Art Wall, who groaned, “It’s beyond me. It’s just too much for me. I’m just not good enough for this course. All you can do is go out there and slug, slug, slug”—this from a man who had won the Rubber City Open just two years earlier at 19-under par. (Art Wall quoted in “Green Pastures,” Time, 1 Aug. 1960, 54.) On Saturday, 83 of the 93 who had made the cut shot over par. Six men managed to bring their round home below par, led by 35-year-old Australian and 1947 PGA champion Jim Ferrier’s 66. Going into the final round, dapper-dressing Doug Sander led the way with an even-par 210 total, followed by Hebert, Ferrier, and Sam Snead at 211 and Don January at 212. Arnold Palmer, after his opening 67, collapsed to rounds of 74 and 75 and was six shots back; his downfall on Saturday included a triple-bogey eight on the 625-yard par-5 16th hole. Hogan, with scores of 74, 75, and 77, a total of 16 over, missed the last cut and could not play the final round; in his entire 54 holes, he had not made a single birdie. In the end Jay Hebert held on by his fingernails and by his great long-iron play, surviving a double bogey on the par-4 410-yard 10th to win the championship, shooting 70 on Sunday and finishing one-over for the tournament, edging out Ferrier by one and Sanders and Snead by two. The 281 winning total was four higher than the score by which Rosburg won the PGA title in 1959 and five higher than Dow Finsterwald’s winning tally at the 1958 PGA title—the only two times that the event had been played since the PGA changed it from match to stroke play. Hebert’s one-over total was also significantly higher than any of the other three major championship played in 1960, as Palmer had won the Masters and the U.S. Open, with scores of minus-6 and minus-4, and Kel Nagle had won the British Open, that year played at St. Andrews, at minus-10. But the most glaring difference came when comparing Hebert’s championship score of 281 with that of the winners of the previous three years’ Rubber City Opens, who scored victories at “old Firestone” with what now appeared to be the ridiculously low scores of 267, 269, and 272. Those three last champions of the former tournament shot, for their twelve rounds of golf, a whopping 56 under par. When compared to the twelve rounds played by the top three finishers in the 1960 PGA Championship, whose play totaled six over par, the difference was 62 shots. Little wonder that the pros howled louder than ever about what Robert Trent Jones, “the Devils’s Architect,” had done to a golf course. (The phrase “Devil’s Architect” had been applied to Trent Jones by a Newsweek writer in a preview article about the 1955 U.S. Open at The Olympic Club.)
237 “a little gruesome” Arnold Palmer quoted in Sampson, The Eternal Summer, p. 209.
237 “that water—ugh” Trent Jones described Firestone’s sixteenth, which the media labeled “The Monster,” in the following way:
Firestone’s 16th is a massive hole of 625 yards, although it plays shorter than that because it is all downhill. Woods border the fairway on both sides, and a large bunker on the left could catch a mis-hit second shot. And mis-hitting that shot is a definite possibility, because it is played from a downhill lie. A small pond guards almost the entire front of the green. There is a narrow opening to the left through which a skillfully played shot could be bounced onto the green. But even if it avoids the bunkers on the left, there is no chance to get the ball close to a hole cut on the right side, where it usually is for championship competition. In most cases, then, the third shot must be a precisely struck pitch to a green that slopes sharply from back to front, with even a plateau area on the right side. If the shot is slightly short, it likely will find water. If it is too long, a near-impossible putt or pitch from the surrounding rough awaits. So the hole requires that wonderful combination of power and length with an exquisite touch on the shorter shots to be successfully negotiated. (RTJ, GMC, p. 237.)
Arnold Palmer described the hole in much less flattering terms. Calling the new Firestone golf course “a little gruesome,” he pointed directly at the par-5 16th as “the worst”
237 “only into a strategy of determined defense” (Palmer, from his 1973 book, Going for Broke (NY: Simon and Schuster; co-authored by Barry Furlong), quoted in Sampson, The Eternal Summer, p. 209.)
237 “long, hard and boring” ibid., p. 91.
237 “a different challenge on almost every hole” RTJ, GMC, p. 237. As for the criticism that all his golf course designs looked the same, Jones bridled: “I have been accused of making all my courses look alike. I guess that’s a compliment of sorts—Tillinghast, Ross, and a lot of others all have readily identifiable styles. But the fact is, all of their courses do not look alike, nor do mine. If people want to criticize, that’s their right. But if that’s all they can say, they’d better study up on golf course design.” Did Peachtree look like Firestone? Did the Dunes Club look like Old Warson? Did the Cornell University golf course look like the Blue Course at Eisenhower Park? Did any of his courses look exactly like any of his others? Jones’s answer was no. Admittedly, his courses “do have certain characteristics,” but that is “true of any architect.” But, as Trent had said, and written, repeatedly, it was the land that “dictates the holes and the look of a course.” If the land was different, the course was going to look different. “Naturally we are all influenced by great holes and great courses, and consciously or subconsciously we incorporate some of their features into our designs,” Jones explained. “But that doesn’t mean we turn out cookie-cutter courses.” To the contrary, “I’m a great believer in variety, in not copying or mimicking in the design of holes and courses.” With Firestone as he had been doing with all of his other courses, Trent’s aim was to use all the different kinds of tools available to an architect to produce varied designs—“the green itself with its many variations in size, elevation, pockets and folds; the different kinds of bunkers and their location; water or the absence of water; trees or the lack of trees; the terrain itself.” In his preliminary redesign of Firestone, he had done hundreds of rough sketches, “turning a green one way, angling it slightly another way, changing the contours, fiddling with the bunkering.” In his opinion, his remodeling of Firestone resulted in a nice variety of different looks and challenges for the golfer. (Ibid., pp. 176-77.)
Some of the golfers who played in the 1960 PGA Championship agreed and said so. “Maybe the best course we played,” said Ken Venturi, who finished in ninth, one stroke behind Palmer. Venturi, shooting consistent rounds of 70-72-73-72, admired how straightforward the layout played. The golfer with the best reason to praise the course, the victorious Jay Hebert, explained to reporters after this win, “If I could keep my sense about me when I play every shot, I would say this is the perfect golf course. You’ve just got to stay out of those bunkers and out of the rough if you ever want to break 75 out here.” Some players who missed the cut even extolled Firestone’s virtues. “They can say what they want about Robert Trent Jones,” exclaimed Jack Fleck, the surprise winner of the ’55 Open at the Jones-remodeled Olympic Club “but I think he’s the greatest. . . . I hear Akron is going to make a bid for the U.S. Open, and with a course like this, I think it should get it.” (Quotes from Ken Venturi, Jay Hebert, and Jack Fleck are all from Sampson, The Eternal Summer, p. 210-11.)
237 “two more PGA Championships” In 1966 when Al Geiberger won the PGA Championship held at Firestone with even-par 280. The golf course for the ‘66 PGA was largely the same as the 1960 layout except for the design of a few traps and one additional trap that was added in the right rough on the 18th hole. Also, following the loss of many elm trees from disease in the early 1960s, Firestone had planted a number of trees to replace them. Long time club pro at Firestone, Alex Redl, commented in a July 1966 pre-PGA Championship magazine article, “Although the new trees will help to toughen up the course, the real results will not show up for a few more years. Then, we’ll have the real monster show up again” (quoted in “Alex Redl—The Championship Host,” Professional Golfer [July 1966]: 4). In 1975 Jack Nicklaus took the title with four-under-par 276 (on Friday of the tournament Austrian professional Bruce Crampton shot a record low 63). From 1961 to 1976 (with the exception of the two years when the PGA was held there), the American Golf Classic was played at Firestone. Interestingly, golfers who played well at Firestone seemed to play well there time and again: Jay Hebert won the inaugural American Golf Classic in 1961, Palmer won it in 1962 and 1967, Venturi won in 1964 (the same year he won the U.S. Open); Geiberger won the event in 1965, the year previous to his winning the PGA Championship there, and Nicklaus won it in 1968. The winning scores ranged from one over to twelve under par. Controversy thus raged throughout the early history of the American Golf Classic. At the 1961 event Bob Rosburg shot 78 in the second round and “damned every tree and trap on the course.” The next day he shot 65 and told the press “he had never played a finer competitive course.” As Jones well knew, the quality of a golf course was usually in the eye of the beholder. “Usually,” noted Trent, “the view depends on the beholder’s success that day” (RTJ, GMC, p. 282)
The last American Golf Classic, in 1976 and won by Nicklaus, was played over a new second course that Jones built for Firestone, called the North Course, which he finished in 1969. In the opinion of many, Firestone North was superior to the South Course, possessing greater beauty and a richer diversity of holes, many of which involved playing over and around a pair of large lakes, harboring two magnificent holes with virtually island greens. William Kezziah, “Firestone South Links Test of Golfer’s Skill; Pros Label Firestone North ‘Class’,” Akron Beacon Journal, 1 Sept. 1976, 14. In his Confidential Guide to Golf Courses (p. 92), Tom Doak has written about Firestone’s two golf courses: “I’ve never figured out from watching on TV why everybody thinks it’s [South course] is so good, and now that Nicklaus has redone all the greens [Nicklaus did this in 1986] I may never know…. I did, however, walk around the North course, which borders the reservoir across Warner Road, and I was most impressed. Some of the holes, particularly the 225-yard 17th to a peninsula green, are overdone, but in general it’s a beautiful course with probably the two most memorable holes of the entire 36—the beautiful dogleg 14th, and the par-5 16th with a lake threatening those who go for the green in two.”)
238 “they have played extremely well” Jones liked to point out that long hitters did not dominate the course, with the exception of Jack Nicklaus, who “made a fortune at Firestone over the years.” Case in point was the 1988 staging of the World Series of Golf, when one of the Tour’s shorter hitters, Mike Reid, won at five under par. But Reid was definitely the exception—as were winning scores only a few under par. In 2001, the year after Trent Jones died, Tiger Woods won the tournament by shooting 21-under par. Beginning in 1999, Woods won the tournament seven of the next ten times. For those seven events, he was 79 under par. Not much had changed on the Firestone layout—though Nicklaus had redesigned many of its greens in 1986. What had changed, once again “thanks” to advancing technology, was the length the golf ball would fly, which by the year 2000 was prodigious.
Jones did not live long enough to see Tiger Woods lay waste to Firestone, but he knew very well by his own golden years that “It is not now as great a golf course as it was because the ball and equipment now play so long.” In 1991 Jones watched on TV as Spain’s José Maria Olazábal, in Jones’s words, “knocked off about eight strokes” from the tournament record: “He went crazy and it was all because of the ball. He was driving almost 400 yards.” (In the concluding chapter of this book, Jones’s thoughts about the extraordinary length of the golf ball and its effects on golf and golf courses will be discussed.) On the other hand, the architect did live long enough to see how the criticism of Firestone eventually turned into near universal praise, a golf course that unquestionably had earned the respect and admiration of most Tour pros—and thus of most golf writers. And from the “member tees,” as Jones always wanted to emphasize, it was “an exceedingly pleasant, although still challenging, course to play.” RTJ, GMC, p. 92.
In the end, Trent considered Firestone South one of his best five all-time courses and the very best remodeling job of his career. There can be no question that the design of Firestone stood as one of the great benchmarks in his career.
In 1989 a third 18-hole course opened at Firestone. Known as Firestone West, it was designed originally by Geoffrey Cornish and Brian Silva. In 2002 it went through a redesign done by Tom Fazio.
238 “Congressional Country Club” After being established in 1924 with such illustrious founding members as Herbert Hoover (then Secretary of State, two years later to become U.S. President), John D. Rockefeller (both Sr. and Jr.), Vincent Astor, a handful of DuPonts, and even Charlie Chaplin, the club had fought to survive the Depression only to go bankrupt in 1940. To stay afloat, the club shut down its operations entirely for the duration of the war and rented its grounds and facilities to the Office of Strategic Services, the predecessor to the CIA, for $4,000 a month. The property was used as a training ground for OSS agents in sabotage, espionage, sneaking up on the enemy from behind and other arts unfamiliar to a golf course. With $20,000 of OSS money in the bank (and the help of a significant upgrading of the property’s infrastructure paid for by the Federal government), at war’s end the club found itself not only solvent but very soon with a major golf boom on its hands, one that brought in to Congressional dozens of new paying members. In early 1949 the club staged its first-ever national championship, the USGA Junior Amateur, won by 17-year-old Gay Brewer, a future Master champion (1967) over 15-year-old Mason Rudolph, who would later win seven PGA tournaments.
238 “outgrown its initial eighteen holes” By the early 1950s, 18 holes of golf did not meet the demand for play at Congressional. Needing more holes, the club created a “New Nine Committee” chaired by member Vernon Johnson, a vice-president of the Lockheed Aircraft Corporation in an office based in D.C. Johnson contracted with Trent Jones for a third nine. Initially, the thought was to make the new layout just an “extra” nine, but it soon became apparent to everyone that the circuit being built by Trent Jones was superior to either of the existing nines—and that America’s preeminent golf architect was not going to settle for designing anything considered to be merely an “extra.”
238 “The new nine officially opened for play” On opening day of Congressional’s new nine, Vice President Nixon played in foursome that included club official Vernon Johnson, club head pro “Wiffy” Cox, and Carl J. Matthews, the club’s new president. (Another Republican, President Calvin Coolidge, had presided over the official opening of Congressional back in 1924.) For the new nine, Jones designed 21 traps, “all of the larger type.” This compared to 71 traps, “all of the smaller type,” on the existing course. Vern Johnson, Chairman, New Nine Committee, Congressional Country Club, Inc., fact sheet presented to club members and guests at the formal opening of the New Nine on 3 Aug. 1957, copy in Congressional Country Club Files, JP, CUA.
“We haven’t had the first adverse comment,” club president Carl J. Matthews wrote to Jones a few days after the grand opening (Carl J. Matthews, President, Congressional Country Club, Inc., R.D. No. 3, Washington 14, DC, 9 Aug. 1957, Congressional Country Club Files, JP, CUA). In fact, one member took the time to write the club’s board of governors “The greens are wonderful. The scenic beauty of each hole was beyond expectation. During the past 25 years, I have played golf from coast to coast and from Maine to Florida. However, I have never played a championship course where every hole was so pleasing to the eye yet required true golfing skill. The ‘New Nine,’ like a unique work of art, cannot be valued in dollars” (Carl F. Bauersfeld, Law Offices, Ash, Bauersfeld & Burton, 1921 Eye Street, N.W., Washington 6, DC, to Board of Governors, Congressional Country Club, Washington 14, DC, 5 Aug. 1957, copy in Congressional Country Club Files, JP, CUA.)
238 “board of governors quickly agreed” It was Jones who primarily defined for Congressional Country Club—and “sold” to the club—what Congressional could become. In return, Trent Jones, for carrying out the two major projects—building the “New Nine” in 1955-56 and remodeling the “Blue” in 1961-62, thereby creating a new eighteen—made a great deal of money. Augmenting the $15,000 he earned in architect’s fees was the very nice profit he made from the enterprise of “Wm. Baldwin Golf Construction, 39 Lackawanna Place, Bloomfield, N.J.” Jones’s shadow construction company made a total of $165,295.49 for its construction work ($98,848.49 for its role in building the New Nine and $66,295.49 more for remodeling the Blue). In 2014 dollars, the Baldwin company invoices represent $1.33 million and Jones’s architectural fee over $120,700. (Records to the job-cost accounting are not available in the Jones Papers, so it is impossible to know what profit Jones actually made off the project. In addition to his architectural fee, Jones was likely to have made another $20,000 to $40,000.) In addition to this revenue, Wm. Baldwin Golf Construction also charged Congressional over $3,000 in travel expenses for Jones’s supervisory visits to the District of Columbia.[i] (It should be added that the “new” Congressional was not built by Baldwin Golf Construction alone; the club used a lot of its own labor, led by its hardworking and talented greenkeeper Wayne Jerome with a lot of input from head pro Wiffy Cox. The in-house work involved fairway preparation and planting, green top-soiling and planting, and irrigation installation, with other outside companies besides Baldwin’s doing such jobs as fairway contouring and lake dredging. What Baldwin contributed primarily was the basic green construction and contouring. The overall cost of creating the new 27-hole layout at Congressional was likely more than twice the amount that Baldwin/Jones received.[ii])
[NOTE: The following is a summary of what the Baldwin Golf Construction Company did for the remodeling of the Blue Course (the front nine of the new championship layout) in 1960-61: Hole #1: An extension of the old tee. Cutting of swale in the fairway at approximately the 200-yard marker, so as to make better visibility to the new (Jones designed) green to be constructed. Hole #2: Two new green traps . Hole #3: A new tee. Trees removed at approximately the 150-yard area. New green built according to Jones’s plan with old #8 green being obliterated, graded, and planted to tie into the existing contours. Hole #4: New tee. Some trees in the fairway that were in the line of play removed. A new green designed by Jones. Hole #5: Two new green traps. Hole #6: Tee extended back into the woods. New green built according to Jones’s plan. Also a green-side pond built according to Jones’s plan. Hole #7: New tee extended back into the woods. New Jones-designed green. Hole #8: New tee built. Four or five trees removed from the fairway. At the 200- to 250-yard area, a swale cut in the fairway to improve the visibility to the green. Old #5 green obliterated and graded to tie into the existing fairway. Hole #9: New tee built. Old #6 green obliterated and graded to tie into existing area. Clearing of trees in the gully area. Area cleared graded and developed and planted as fairway area. New green built on the site according to Jones’s plan. Overall, eight new fairway traps were added to the Blue course. See William D. Baldwin, President, William Baldwin Golf Construction Co., 29 Lackawanna Pl, Bloomfield, NJ, to Congressional Country Club, Washington, DC, 19 May 1960, copy in Congressional Country Club Files, JP, CUA.]
[FURTHER NOTE: The dollar figures for what Trent Jones received for the work he did at Congressional Country Club between 1955 and 1961 were derived from a review of a couple very large folders full of documentation pertaining to the design and remodeling of the golf course. Three of the most illuminating documents pertaining to the architect’s fee and the construction costs are: Vernon A. Johnson, Lockheed Aircraft Corp., Burbank, CA, to RTJ, 7 Mar. 1957; William D. Baldwin, President, William Baldwin Golf Construction Co., 39 Lackawanna Pl., Bloomfield, NJ, to Congressional Country Club, Washington, DC, 19 May 1960; and W. Theodore Pierson, President, Congressional Country Club, Inc., 8500 River Road, Washington 14, DC, 17 Aug. 1960. All three documents are contained within the Congressional Country Club Files, JP, CUA. As stated in the text, Vernon Johnson was an executive with the Lockheed Aircraft Corporation. For Lockheed, Johnson spent much of his time in the nation’s capitol at an office at 1000 Vermont Ave., NW, Washington 5, DC. It is not known, but strongly suspected, that Vernon Johnson was the brother of Leonard “Kelly” Johnson, the famous American aeronautical engineer and innovator who spearheaded the design of such remarkable aircraft as the P-38 Lightning, P-80 Shooting Star, F-104 Starfighter. Out of Kelly Johnson’s “Skunk Works” came the design of the U-2 spy plane and the SR-71 Blackbird.]
By the end of 1961 a formidable new 18-hole layout had arisen at Congressional Country Club, playing to 7,059 yards from the back tees, ready to do battle with any golfer who engaged it. If club members did not realize how special and challenging their golf course had become, Jones was about to tell them.
It is interesting that in a letter to club members dated 15 Nov. 1956, Vernon Johnson, chairman of the New Nine Committee, in acknowledging all the contributors to the building of the new nine holes that Robert Trent Jones had designed, cited, not the Wm. Baldwin Golf Construction Co., but Contour Construction, another shadow company which Trent Jones owned and for which Bill Baldwin served as president. I have not been able to document the reason for this apparent confusion, other than to say the existence of more than one shadow construction company owned by Jones was confusing—and perhaps was meant to be. Incidentally, Baldwin’s address in Bloomfield, New Jersey, placed him less than two miles away from Trent Jones’s home in Montclair. One might speculate that it looked better for Baldwin’s company to reside in a different town that Jones lived; people outside of New Jersey would likely not know how close to one another the two addresses actually were. A copy of Vernon Johnson’s letter to the club membership rests in the Congressional Country Club Files, JP, CUA.
239 “Jones dreamed of a U.S. Open” No question but that Jones had started thinking about Congressional as a U.S. Open site even as he was building the “extra” nine in the mid-1950s. Certainly, by the time he demonstrated to the club how its outstanding New Nine could serve as the back nine of a wholly reborn 18-hole layout, Jones was thinking “major championship” for the golf course. More than any of his Open redesigns, the new Congressional would be his course—nine of the holes that from their very inception were his original design and the other nine so significantly reworked that they might as well have been his own. If the National Open were ever to come to Congressional—and where better to stage it than the U.S. capitol, within a birds-eye view of the White House?—the event would be coming to a true Robert Trent Jones golf course. No more sharing the limelight with Donald Ross, Willie Watson, A. W. Tillinghast, Perry Maxwell, or any other preceding designer. The situation was in some ways similar to—but even more so a product of Jones’s gift for promoting his services—than what he was doing simultaneously at The Broadmoor.
239 “’59 Women’s Amateur” The 59th Women’s Amateur Championship, played at Congressional in 1959 and won by Barbara McIntire, was played before the remodeling of the Blue Course’s back nine had been finished. Jones also was out front in trying to bring the 1960 championship of the Women’s Southern Golf Association to Congressional, which, too, would have been before the Blue had been redone; in this instance, Jones’s “very kind offer to feel out’” all the parties came a little late, as the WSGA had already chosen the Country Club of Virginia as that year’s tournament site. RTJ, GMC, p. 90.
239 “granted the 1964 Open to Congressional” What convinced the United States Golf Association to award Congressional the 1964 Open was in part “the rousing success” of the Women’s Amateur Championship held there in 1959. The USGA considered the event to be “a paragon” not just for women’s events but also for all tournaments staged by the association. Also, it did not hurt that Congressional boasted an enormous clubhouse, ample parking facilities both on and off the grounds, a “patently eager” membership, a large urban population, and proximity to other big cities likely to provide throngs of spectators as well as other kinds of support, commercial and public, needed to stage a successful national championship. Most of all, there was a big, scenic Robert Trent Jones golf course, shed of the perception that it was “not extraordinary.” By 1961, it was also no longer a golf course with only nine wonderful holes—those comprising Jones’s New Nine. The architect had gone back to the drawing board and emerged with a scheme that completely transformed the original Blue nine. When that transformation was complete, USGA officials in the spring of 1962 made the short drive down to the District of Columbia to see the new Congressional. Delighted by what they found, the USGA announced that it was awarding the 1965 U.S. Open to the club, “as long as certain steps were taken in course conditioning.”[iii] Could Congressional maintain quality turf amid the high temperatures and humidity of summertime in Washington, DC. Though Trent Jones consulted on relevant issues, for the most part all the problems related to turfgrass fell to the club’s able greenskeeper, Wayne Jerome, and to turf consultants Jerome called in. All of the quoted material in this paragraph is from Frank Hanigan, “Congressional and The Open,” USGA Golf Journal (May 1964): 6-9.
239 “having a par-3 finishing hole” There was a strong bias in the USGA against par-3 finishing holes, fueled by a conviction that the conclusion of a major championship should require players to hit more demanding shots. There were also practical reasons, at least by the 1960s, not to end a tournament on a par-3. The biggest was that there would not be enough room for the expected vast gallery of spectators, plus all the media, with television cameramen and broadcasters, all surrounding the home hole.
239 “hillside vantage points for thousands of birdie-watchers” Hanigan, “Congressional and The Open,” USGA Golf Journal (May 1964): 8.
239 “treacherously close to lake’s edge” RTJ, “Hole by Hole Description of Congressional Country Club, Washington, DC,” typescript, 2 May 1964, p. 12, copy in Congressional Country Club Files, JP, CUA.
239 “longest course yet for the Open” Several newspaper and magazine articles published in the weeks leading up to the tournament warned that the layout “gives a decided advantage to the long-hitters such as Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus.” Jones disagreed: “This is a thinking man’s course. Personally I think a fellow . . . who isn’t long but very straight and who has great finesse around the green will have an excellent chance. It is, indeed, a long course, but is not stretched beyond fair limits and is not tricked up.” Speaking of long hitters, Jones emphasized: “This course has only two par-5 holes—the 9th and 15th—and neither is an easy birdie. They won’t be reaching them in two shots” (RTJ quoted in Will Grimsley, “Golf Architect Takes Issue With Critics,” Utica Daily Press, 8 May 1964). The 9th hole, partly for that reason, was the golf course’s most controversial hole. Measuring 599 yards, “this hole will not offer the opportunity to Nicklaus and Palmer that they normally get on other courses such as Augusta.” As Jones explained, “The green is elevated majestically and challenging” (RTJ, “Hole by Hole Description of Congressional Country Club, Washington, DC,” p. 7). It played as a true three-shot hole, as from the 490-yard mark up to the level of the green (roughly the same elevation as the target area for the second shot) sat a deep, inhibiting rough-infested gulley which not even the biggest hitters would dare try to challenge.
239 “a big, rough monster” As might be expected, Jones, in describing the two nines of U.S. Open championship course, showed more than a slight preference for the back nine, which was uniquely his own design. The front nine, he felt, was “a subtle stretch of holes which golfers will have to pamper and cajole,” whereas the incoming nine was “a big rough, monster.” The only thing for the golfer to do on the closing nine was “grab it by the throat and wrestle with it.” Trent was especially proud of Congressional’s new greens: “The green contouring is tricky and illusive with hidden breaks. They will require some heady putting. But they are not unfair.” Overall, Jones naturally gave Congressional his stamp of approval as a site for the national championship: “There will be no cinch birdie holes on the whole course, although a couple will permit short iron approaches. The man who wins this tournament won’t be able to let down a moment. One lapse could ruin him.” RTJ quoted in Grimsley, “Golf Architect Takes Issue With Critics,” Utica Daily Press, 8 May 1964.
240 “withered and died” Robert Sommers, The U.S. Open: Golf’s Ultimate Challenge (NY: Atheneum, 1989), p. 206.
240 “toughest course I’ve ever played” Tommy Jacobs quoted in Tom Flaherty, The U.S. Open: 1895-1965 (NY: E. P. Dutton & Co., Inc., 1966), p. 182. The scores at the top of the leader board in the 1964 U.S. Open at Congressional were misleading. Looking up and down the board, one had seen no other score but Palmer’s below 70 on Thursday and only one, by Bill Collins, at even par. (A 25-year-old pro from Baltimore, Collins had won the 1960 Houston Classic in a playoff over Palmer.) Jack Nicklaus shot 72 and never got into contention. After his opening round 71, Tony Lema remarked, “This is some course. If we’re going to play two rounds here Saturday, they’d better have the oxygen and ambulances ready (also quoted in Flaherty, op cit.). On Friday, Gay Brewer shot 69 (after an opening round 76), joining Jacobs and Palmer as the only scores that day finishing under par; only four others—Ken Venturi, Raymond Floyd, Al Geiberger, and Charlie Sifford—managed to get around in 70. (Sifford, a 44-year-old African-American tour professional from North Carolina, had, in the early 1960s, helped to desegregate the PGA of America. In the 1950s he had won the United Golf Association’s National Negro Open six times. He then won two PGA events, including the 1969 Los Angeles Open. His best finish in a major was a 21st-place tie at the 1972 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. He would finish 27th at Congressional in 1964.) Over the 36 holes of Open Saturday at Congressional, there would only be five more under-par rounds—led by Venturi’s 66 in the morning round—and 3 more at even par. All told, Congressional over the four rounds gave up merely nine rounds under 70 (four of them were 69s) and eight rounds at 70. The Blue Course played very tough, indeed—tougher than most observers at the time noticed and tougher than many historians have since remembered.
USGA executive director Joe Dey expressed this opinion of Jones’s redesign following the tournament, “Congressional was a model course uniformly praised not only by players, but by knowledgeable golfers who attended the tournament.” In particular, Dey praised the 18th hole, normally the 17th on the Congressional golf course. “It’s the only true stage ever seen in golf,” Dey remarked. “It was set out in the lake with nobody crowding it” yet thousands of spectators could watch the action on it from the neighboring hillsides. For that, he singled out Trent Jones for an ingenious design. Dey quoted in Robert Sommers, “Open at Congressional Cited as Tourney Model,” Washington (DC) Evening Star, 9 Mar. 1955.
240 “Ken will be remembered” RTJ, GMC, p. 90. Venturi would play in 17 subsequent majors, his last in 1974. His best finish came immediately after his win at Congressional, a fifth-place-finish in the ’64 PGA held at Cherry Hills in Denver. At Congressional the blazing heat and suffocating humidity were not his only foes. He suffered from highly painful hands and wrists that at the time of ’64 Open were thought to be the result of injuries from a car accident he had suffered in 1961 but would later be diagnosed as carpal tunnel syndrome. Retiring from profession al golf in 1967 with 14 Tour victories, Venturi began a 35-year career with CBS as a golf broadcaster. He died in May 2013 two days after his 82nd birthday. For Ken Venturi’s personal story of his victory in the 1964 U.S. Open at Congressional Country Club, see Ken Venturi with Oscar Fraley, Comeback: The Ken Venturi Story (NY: Duell, Sloan and Pearce, 1966), pp. 104-122.
240 “The Open at Congressional” Washington, D.C.’s most fashionable private club (though it has since acquired a Bethesda, Maryland address), would host a number of tournaments in the coming years. In 1976 Dave Stockton shot a one-over-par 281 to the win his second the PGA Championship by one stroke over Raymond Floyd and Don January. By the time the Kemper Open came to be played regularly on the Blue Course, from 1980 through 1986, the pros were shooting very low scores, starting with John Mahaffey’s minus-13 in 1981 and Craig Stadler’s minus-18 in 1982 and finishing with Bill Glasson’s minus-10 in 1985 and Greg Norman’s minus-11 in 1986.
The low scores shot on its supposedly very tough layout stimulated the membership at Congressional to once again consider changes to the golf course. In 1989, rather than turning to Trent, who by then was 83 years old, the club hired his son Rees, who completed a major renovation in which all greens and surrounding features as well as all fairway features were rebuilt. Rees’s firm, which at the time included associate designers Greg Muirhead and Steve Weisser, substantially re-graded nine fairways and built several new tees. For the 1995 U.S. Senior Open, the reinvigorated course played only a bit harder, with 52-year-old Tom Weiskkopf winning the title at 13-under 275 (for the Seniors the course played to a par 72, as it did for the members.) But for the 1997 U.S. Open at Congressional, the set-up was as difficult as the USGA could make it, taking full advantage of the changes Rees Jones had given the course. Ernie Els won the event with a hard-earned 4-under-par 276. In preparation for the 2011 U.S. Open at Congressional, all of the greens were rebuilt to USGA specifications by Rees Jones, Inc., which also added a number of new championship tees and made some bunker and fairway adjustments. But with drought having thinned out the rough followed by wet weather softening the greens, the Blue Course succumbed to a brilliant assault by Northern Ireland’s young Rory McIlroy, who shot rounds of 65, 66, 69, and 69 for an aggregate score of 264, 16 under par, a new Open record.
Perhaps the most telling statistic about the evolution of Congressional’s golf course over the past 50 years—a reflection of golf trends in general, and attributable above all to improved clubs and golf balls engineered to travel farther with less spin—is that the full yardage of the Blue Course has stretched to 7,574 yards. The original Blue front nine can now play to 3,702 yards, and Jones’s “New Blue back nine” reaches to a mammoth 3,872 yards. Year in and year out since Trent Jones’s first redesign, course rankings by the leading golf magazines place Congressional Blue among the country’s best 100 courses. Golfweek currently ranks it 65th on its list of classic U.S. layouts.
241 “not merely the ‘Open Doctor’” The author has looked long and hard to find the derivation of Jones’s moniker as “The Open Doctor,” but I have not been able to find its source. Nor do either one of his sons, Robert Jr. or Rees Jones, know who first authored the title for their dad. Bob, Jr., believes it might have been Associated Press sportswriter Will Grimsley, but I have not been able to find where Grimsley invented the nickname. Other possibilities mentioned by the Jones brothers are Herbert Warren Wind, Dan Jenkins, Charles Price, Jim Murray. Furman Bisher, and Dan Jenkins. Jenkins himself believes that Herb Wind originated the title. Perhaps tellingly, author Tom Flaherty in his 1966 book The U.S. Open: 1895-1965 (NY:E.P. Dutton & Co., Inc.) does not on any page call Trent Jones “The Open Doctor.” More surprisingly, neither does Robert Sommers in his 1989 book The U.S. Open: Golf’s Ultimate Challenge (NY: MacMillan), and Sommers, as a reporter with the Baltimore Evening Sun, Washington Star, and for 20 years as the editor of the magazine Golf Journal, had been covering the U.S. Open since the early 1960s. This leaves the possibility that a sportswriter did not invent the phrase; rather, it could have been initiated by someone associated with the USGA or PGA, maybe even Joe Dey. Finally, there is the curious possibility that Trent Jones invented it for himself. Certainly, in terms of self-invention and promoting his own career through publicity of many different kinds, it was not beyond Jones to have given himself the name.
241 “Bellerive puts too much premium on power” Jack Nicklaus quoted in Flaherty, The U.S. Open: 1895-1965, p. 185. Picking up on Nicklaus’s comment, the sportswriters labeled Bellerive “a course that would put all except the really long hitters among the professional golfers at a tremendous disadvantage” (Doc Giffin, “Paradox at Bellerive,” Professional Golfer (Aug. 1965): 4).
241 “a brand new course, but an old club” In its original 1897 incarnation as the St. Louis, the members contented themselves with a 9-hole golf course. Then in 1910 the sportsmen bought a larger piece of property in a lightly populated northern suburb called Normandy where they built a full eighteen. The man brought in to design the course was 37-year-old Robert Foulis, a Scottish immigrant born in St. Andrews, who not only built the golf course but stayed on as the club’s pro-greenkeeper until his retirement in 1942. A membership out to stake its claim of distinction over other St. Louis golf clubs felt it deserved a more honorable and historic name than “The Field Club” name, so it voted to call its new playground “Bellerive Country Club.” While at its Normandy location, Bellerive built nicely upon on its pedigree, including construction of a fine large clubhouse done in the style of Georgian architecture. Surviving the Depression and Second World War, the club began hosting a number of notable golf tournaments. This included the 1949 Western Amateur, won by arguably America’s greatest amateur player of the era, 27-year-old Frank Stranahan, a two-time winner of the British Amateur (’48 and ’50) and a runner-up in the U.S. Amateur (’50) who went on to win six events on the PGA Tour. In 1954 Bellerive also hosted the Western Open, the third oldest PGA tournament and one considered by the players as only a rung below a major. It was won that year by 43-year-old E.J. “Dutch” Harrison, an outstanding player who over a career spanning forty years finished nine times in the top ten of major tournaments, won 18 PGA Tour events, and played on three Ryder Cup Teams.
241 “pushing golf clubs farther and farther out into the suburbs” In 1957, when Bellerive put its 125-acre site on the market, the club eventually lowering its asked-for price from $1.3 million to $600,000 and benevolently accepted the offer of that amount from the Normandy School District, which sought the establishment of an affordable alternative to the Gateway City’s two privately- owned colleges, Washington University and Saint Louis University. (In 1963 that alternative, which operated its classes out of a renovated Bellerive club house and called itself the “Normandy Residence Center,” became the core of the new University of Missouri—St. Louis campus.) As part of the deal, the club insisted, at Trent Jones’s suggestion, that it would be allowed to take with them to their new site 100 trees for transplanting, “all under 8 inches in diameter and not closer than 100 yards from the old clubhouse.” Quoted in “Bellerive: New Test for the Open,” USGA Golf Journal (Feb. 1965).
241 “Trent knew Hardin from Augusta” It would be under Hord Hardin’s direction that Augusta’s greens would be replanted with bent grass. With Bellerive now in need of a new course, Hardin, “a burly man with a gentle smile,” brought Jones to Missouri to look over different properties in the city’s western suburbs. (Steve Eubanks, Augusta: Home of the Master Tournament [Nashville, TN: Rutledge Hill Press, 1997], p. 124.) According to Jones, Hardin allowed him to pick the location for the new golf course. What Trent chose was a piece of prime farmland lying west of the suburb of Creve Coeur off Ladue Road some 12 miles out from downtown St. Louis. The property was perfect for a golf course, with rolling hills, a meandering creek, and many wooded slopes. Though he had already used the phrase before—and would use it many times more during his career—Jones told Hardin, Gamble, and their fellow club members that it was “the best site for a golf course I have ever seen” (RTJ to AK, p. 95; RTJ, “Just Me, Trent Jones,” pp. 41-42).The new course opened on Memorial Day 1960. Jones attended the dedication and so happy were the members with his design that they gave him an honorary lifetime membership.
[NOTE: Hord W. Hardin did not succeed Clifford Roberts as chair of Augusta National directly. As Steve Eubanks explains in his 1997 book Augusta: Home of the Masters Tournament (p. 119), Hardin was Roberts’s handpicked successor but Hardin “knew that as long as Cliff was alive, Robert’s rules would be in effect, so he politely declined the offer, citing the demands of his career and family. Unaccustomed to rejection, Roberts picked Bill Lane, a successful Texas businessman without much of a golf background. Because Hardin never let anyone know about Robert’s initial offer, everyone assumed Cliff had snubbed the heir-apparent for a more docile Lane.” Lane held the position for only two years, 1977-79, before suffering a fatal stroke. By the time Lane died, Clifford Roberts had also passed away, on 29 Sept. 1977, by shooting himself in the head with a .38 caliber pistol while sitting on the grass near “Ike’s Pond” on Augusta National’s par-three course. Robert’s ashes were scattered on the grounds of Augusta National.]
241 “Green Monster of Ladue Road” Three of the par 3s at Bellerive stretched to 195 yards or longer. But Jones knew that extreme length alone did not make a championship golf course. Neither did a profusion of traps or big greens. Scenic beauty alone, as desirable as it was, “does not make a championship course,” either. To attract the USGA to Bellerive, the course needed to have character. “Character in the golf course sense,” Jones explained, was “similar to character in the individual sense, in that character is attributed to those who have strong individual points making them stand out over and above others.” Above all else, a great golf course needed “great playing value” (RTJ, GMC, p. 37).
242 “before it was even a year old” In historical perspective, the USGA’s decision to give Bellerive an Open seems not all that striking or out of character. Whereas the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews used something close to a set “rota” of courses for its British Open, employing only nine different golf courses for its championship over the 20-year stretch from the end of World War II into mid-Sixties, the USGA during the same time span held the U.S. Open at 17 different courses. Only two courses, Oakland Hills and Oakmont, had staged the U.S. Open more than once. Furthermore, the USGA’s directors wanted to move their championship regularly to all regions of the country, and sought deserving new venues whose cities and businesses could commit one hundred percent to supporting every detail of the event. Thirteen different states had played host to the Open since 1946. In June 1960, two weeks after the new Bellerive course opened for play, the U.S. Open was played at Cherry Hills in Denver. The next four Opens were planned for Michigan, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and the District of Columbia. It would be time to take the tournament back to the Midwest or West. St Louis, one of America’s great sports cities, had not had an Open since 1947, when it was held at the St. Louis Country Club. Bellerive beckoned to the USGA, and the USGA responded. As Jones proudly boasted about his new course, “For all its tender age, Bellerive has cultivated some mighty big muscles.” The preceding quote is from galley proofs to an article about Bellerive that Jones wrote to the 1965 U.S. Open. The author has not been able to ascertain where the article was published, or if it even was. A copy of the galleys, four pages long, can be found in the Bellerive Country Club Files, JP, CUA. The quote is the very last sentence of the article.
242 “smaller than their actual size” The quotes in this paragraph are all from RTJ, “What Makes A Championship Course?” USGA Golf Journal (June 1965): 15-19.
242 “the rough, and the water” ibid., p. 16.
242 “This course baffles me” Palmer 12-over par for the first two rounds, missing the cut. Jack Nicklaus on day one, coming off a big win at the Masters (at 271, he finished nine strokes ahead of his nearest competitor), shot an eight-over 78, handling the golf course layout poorly despite having made “an exceptionally thorough study of the course” (Jack Nicklaus with Ken Bowden, Jack Nicklaus: My Story (NY: Simon & Schuster, 1977), p. 203). Nicklaus came back with a second round 72, but was really never in contention. His final two rounds of 73 and 76 left him 19-over-par for the championship and in a four-way tie for 32nd. Missing the cut with Palmer was Ken Venturi, with rounds of 81 and 79, high scores partly explained by a flare-up of his carpal tunnel syndrome. This time Venturi kept his feelings about the course to himself, but the remark of an anonymous young pro undoubtedly mirrored Venturi’s own sentiment: “I sure don’t enjoy playing this course. It’s too much work” (quoted in ibid., p. 186). What others thought, and did not keep to themselves, was that Bellerive, in terms of course condition and maturation, really wasn’t ready for the Open.
242 “not yet knitted closely” Sommers, The U.S. Open: Golf’s Ultimate Challenge, p. 215.