Chapter Two: Big Ambitions in Depressed Times
22 “the proper foundations” Howard L. Davis, The Young Man in Business (New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1931).
23 “The American Century” see Thomas P. Hughes, American Genesis: A Century of Invention and Technological Enthusiasm, 1870-1970 (University of Chicago Press, 2004.
24 “the Father of American Golf Course Architecture” C&W, AoG, pp. 54-57 and p. 330. For the life story of Charles Blair Macdonald (1856-1939), see Macdonald’s autobiographical Scotland’s Gift—Golf (NY and London: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1928). The foreword to the book was written by Herbert Warren Wind.
25 “large-scale applications of technological prowess” see David Nye, American Technological Sublime (MIT Press, 1996).
27 “oversee his work” At first Jones had no idea who that “consulting architect” could—or rather, should—be. Donald Ross’s operation was too big and important to let an unproven designer like Jones work as a free agent; as much as he admired Ross, he knew Ross would just take over. What Jones needed was someone with a name that the Midvale club trusted and respected but who was confident enough in Jones’s promise to let him have his own way, at least much of the time. It was also important to Jones that the senior architect would not demand the lion’s share of the fee. Jones discussed the matter with one of his golfing Cornell professors, who recommended that Jones try contacting Charles H. Banks, the principal associate of the late Seth Raynor (who had helped C.B. Macdonald build the iconic National Golf Links of America and who the New York Post called at the time of his death at age 47 in 1926 “the golf world’s great designing genius”). The heir to Raynor’s enterprise, Banks worked out of an office on Madison Avenue in New York City and was at the time busy building a handful of new courses as far-flung as White Plains, New York, Lookout Mountain, Tennessee, and Honolulu, Hawaii. Thinking that Banks might be just the ticket he needed, Jones traveled to New York City on 12 April 1930, asking Banks to consult for him on Midvale. Banks thought it over briefly, composed a succinct reply, and put it in the mail to Jones that very afternoon. He wanted $100 per day plus all traveling and hotel expenses. He wanted “remuneration for any services which I render even though not present on the property.” His name was “in no way to be connected with the project for publicity purposes.” All his bills must be paid within ten days of the first of the month. (Charles H. Banks, Golf Architect, 331 Madison Avenue, New York City, to RTJ, 13 South Avenue, Ithaca, NY, 12 Apr. 1930, Midvale Files, JP, CUA.) The terms were more demanding than Jones anticipated or could accept. He quickly started looking for another option, while at the same time kept working to complete his own preliminary plan for Midvale’s 18-hole golf course. Midvale members were actively looking as well, as Jones later remembered: They wanted to look over my shoulder, to make sure the young kid didn’t mess things up.” (GMC, p. 77.)
27 “impressed that I had done this Cornell work” RTJ Sr. to AK, USGA OHC, p. 27.
28 “sit back with a bottle of scotch” GMC, p. 77.
28 “Toronto Terror,” ibid. p. 77. The life and golfing career of Stanley Thompson and the story of his entire family is covered in fine detail in James A. Barclay, The Toronto Terror (Chelsea, MI: Sleeping Bear Press, 2000). Barclay’s biography of Thompson does not benefit, however, from an exhaustive examination of the extant archival materials that now exist in the form of the Stanley Thompson Papers at the University of Guelph in Ontario or the Jones Papers at Cornell University Archives. There is a great deal more that can be learned about Thompson’s career as a golf architect by researching these and other materials. Some members of the Stanley Thompson Society are, in fact, currently doing so. For a comprehensive survey of the history of golf in Canada, see Barclay’s 626-page masterpiece, Golf in Canada: A History (Toronto: McClellan & Stewart, Inc., 1992), especially Chap. 18, “The Thompsons’ Takeover Bid,” pp. 264-270, and Chap. 23, “Early Courses and Architects,” pp. 348-272. No question but that Scottish-born James A. Barclay (b. 1923) was the doyen of Canadian golf historians; the author was privileged to exchange letters with Mr. Barclay in the months prior to his passing in December 2011. Besides being a fine golf historian, Barclay had a distinguished career in the Canadian oil industry. He was elected to the Canadian Golf Hall of Fame in 2008.
30 “made a pretty good impression” RTJ Sr. to AK, p. 29.
30 “royal, indeed!” Robert Jones, Royal York Hotel, Toronto, Canada, to Miss Ione Davis, 81 Hawthorne Place, Montclair, NJ, 20 June 1930. This day was Jones’s 24th birthday.
30 “LOVE, BOBBY” Western Union Telegram, RTJ Sr. to Miss Ione Davis, 81 Hawthorne Place, Montclair, NJ, 21 June 1930, signed “Bobby.”
31 “I could conquer the world” Robert Jones, Royal York Hotel, Toronto, Canada, to Miss Ione Davis, 81 Hawthorne Place, Montclair, NJ, 22 June 1930. The phrase “I could conquer the world” comes in another letter Jones wrote to Ione from Toronto that is undated.
32 “receiving our commission” John Inwood, Stanley Thompson & Co. Limited, Toronto, Canada, to Robert Jones, 30 June 1930, Midvale Files, JP, CUA.
32 “precise details of the cooperation” Besides telling the financially woeful tale of Midvale’s construction, there is another interesting and significant matter to address: Did Jones and Thompson truly design Midvale together? If so, who deserves credit for what? Is it primarily another of one of Thompson’s designs or is it more rightfully Jones’s first work? Preliminary to answering these questions one should consider what each man offered to the other in the summer of 1930. One might be tempted to say that Thompson offered much more to Jones than Jones offered him: many years of experience, an established reputation, credibility, a veteran office staff that included junior designers, construction expertise headed by experienced superintendents and foremen, not to mention Thompson’s overall creative ingenuity when it came to shaping golf courses. Perhaps most importantly, Thompson was simply one of the era’s greatest golfing “characters,” an extraordinarily charming and fun-loving man who through his vitality, dynamic strength of personality, and persuasiveness produced a superlative body of work. As Jones remembered, “Stanley was a sensational salesman. He could talk anybody out of almost anything, and usually did.” (GMC, p. 77; RTJ Sr. to AK, p. 30.) One memorable time when he did not get his way came in 1924. Stanley was building the golf course in Alberta’s Jasper Park for the Canadian National Railway when he ran out of money on what had been a seemingly abundant budget—half a million dollars, almost $7 million in today’s dollars—but managed to conjure more cash out of the company and continue on. But when the devilish Thompson decided to contour the ninth fairway so the golfer would see the voluptuous curves of Queen Cleopatra, he ran afoul of Sir Harry Thornton, the Canadian National president. Appalled, Sir Harry made Thompson modify the hole, which he did, slightly. But the hole at Jasper Park Golf Club to this day is still called “Cleopatra.” (GMC, p. 77) Jones would also come to love to tell a story about Thompson illuminating the Canadian’s wicked sense of humor. It involved the design of one of Thompson’s greatest golf courses, the Capilano Golf & Country Club, built from 1936-1938 on the gorgeous western outskirts of Vancouver, British Columbia, a layout that Jones routed. After the initial laying out of the golf course, some of the directors of the development company, British Pacific Properties, came out to review the work and said, “Thompson, it’s a great golf course and it’s a lovely golf course, but you haven’t put any toilets on the course. Thompson answered, “I’ve overlooked that, I’m sorry to say. But to tell you the truth, I didn’t know there were some many “peers” (pronounced pee’ers) on your board of directors.” (RTJ Sr. to AK, p. 31.) “Stanley was the best salesman I ever heard,” Jones recalled. “He’d go and sell people, and he’d have them laughing, and he was terrific as a salesman. I picked up a lot of his ways, no question about it. He had a great personality. He’d go and charm a board of directors like you never saw.” (RTJ Sr. to AK, p. 30-31) Indeed, “no question about it,” for one of Jones’s greatest skills in the golf course business that he would later come to dominate not just in America but abroad lay in his “schmoozing” of clients, storytelling, and personable salesmanship. As “Robert Trent Jones,” he would often prove to be a combination of Frank Lloyd Wright (who was exactly the same sort of salesman) and Cecil B. DeMille. Like Thompson, whom he truly respected and admired, Jones was not beyond exaggerating the truth or fabricating stories to make his point or sell a golf course project. What Jones in turn offered to Thompson should not be underestimated: a reputation as a fine golfer who had competed successfully not just in upstate New York tournaments but also in a few professional events, including the Canadian Open; youthfulness, energy and enthusiasm; a college education in such vital subjects as agronomy, civil engineering and surveying; experience as a golf professional, greenkeeper and club manager; the potential for many new contacts and clients across the border from Canada in America; a U.S. resident whose citizenship could someday prove eminently useful in dealing with U.S. companies as well as with city, county, state and federal bodies who might procure work from a golf course design business, just as the Canadian railways had been giving big money to Thompson’s firm for course construction. All in all, Jones offered Thompson a great deal. Their work together at Midvale was the testing ground. The stakes were not so high for Thompson, or did not seem so at the time; his career in the golf course business had many deeply planted roots. A failure at Midvale, or just an unhappy union with a young associate, may not have adversely affected Thompson’s business. The stakes were high for Jones. Had his collaboration with Thompson not worked out, his ambition may very well have faltered during his deep dark years of depression, both economic and personal.
32 “complete the layout with you” John Inwood, ST&CoLtd, 1607 Star Building, Toronto, to Robert Jones, Esq., 409 Ellwanger and Barry Building, Rochester, NY, 10 July 1930, Midvale Files, JP, CUA.
32 “we will fix them up here” John Inwood, ST&CoLtd, Toronto, to Robert Jones, Subject: Midvale Golf & Country Club, 14 July 1930, Midvale Files, JP, CUA.
33 “I plan to start work on construction” Robert Jones, 409 Elwanger & Barry Bldg., Rochester, NY, to Major John Inwood, ST&CoLtd, 1067 Star Building, Toronto, 21 July 1930, Midvale Files, JP, CUA.
33 “thinks it’s okay” Department Memo, ST&CoLtd, John Inwood to Mr. Robert Jones, 311 Wilder Building, Rochester, NY, 22 July 1930, Midvale Files, JP, CUA.
33 “a total of $49,100” Robert T. Jones, “Estimated Cost,” 12 July 1930, Midvale Files, JP, CUA.
33 “ten percent of the total cost” Memorandum of Agreement between Midvale Golf and Country Club, Inc. (Charles A. Lynch, President) and ST&CoLtd (Stanley Thompson), 23 July 1930, in Midvale Files, JP, CUA.
35 “monotonous or otherwise” booklet, ST, General Thoughts on Golf Course Design (Toronto, 1923). The text of this booklet is reprinted in Barclay, The Toronto Terror, Appendix, pp. 153-155, and is discussed by Barclay pp. 103-105. A large excerpt from the booklet is also quoted in GMC, p. 77.
35 “I created Midvale” RTJ Sr. to AK, p. 27.
35 “vitally necessary” Department Memo, ST&CoLtd: Major John Inwood to Mr. Robert Jones, 311 Wilder Building, Rochester, NY, 25 July 1930; RTJ “(signed “Bobby”) to Alan Bland, c/o ST&CoLtd , 1617 Star Building, Toronto, 9 Sept. 1930. Both documents are in Midvale Files, JP, CUA.
35 “sent no fewer than three of its men” One of the men that Thompson’s Toronto office sent to help Jones in the construction of Midvale was H. W. Anderson, “a professional golfer” who had just finished working for Thompson on his updating of the Manchester Golf Club in Mandeville, Jamaica, not only Jamaica’s oldest course—dating back to 1865—but also the Caribbean’s oldest. Another was a man by the name of J. E. Zieman, who had also done a lot of work on Thompson courses. The third was Robert Cumming, the son of George Cumming, the long-time Toronto Golf Club head pro who had gone to work for Thompson. Anderson and Zieman were supposed to be paid by Midvale at a rate of $250 per month, while young Cumming was to get $200 per month. In addition to this trio, Thompson also occasionally sent his junior designer Howard Watson to help Jones and the others in any way he could.
On 12 July 1933 an original Midvale member, Neal Murphy, then serving as advertising manager for the Rochester Times-Union, Inc., wrote a letter to Rochester city manager, Theodore Briggs, in support of Jones’s supervision of the Durand-Eastman Park golf project to be carried out by the city (which will be discussed in the following chapter). Murphy wrote: “Without hesitation I can assure you that Mr. Jones is responsible for the splendid golf layout we have at Midvale, even though the major portion of credit for laying out Midvale has always been given to Stanley Thompson. As a matter of fact, Mr. Thompson spent only a few hours here while the course was being planned, and left the entire job of planning the course and supervising the construction to Mr. Jones.” It seems clear that Jones solicited the letter from Murphy, however, and asked him to send it to Briggs in Rochester City Hall. There was no way for Murphy to know the details of Jones’s interaction with Thompson or his company representatives on Midvale’s creation. Copy in Midvale Files, JP, CUA.
36 “contract being transferred over” RTJ to Major John Inwood, ST&CoLtd, 1607 Star Building, Toronto, “Re: Division of Stock,” 1 Dec. 1930’ Transfer agreement, ST&CoLtd, ST, President, Toronto, 4 Dec. 1930, Midvale Files, JP, CUA. The Transfer Agreement reads: “In consideration of the sum of one dollar ($1.00) and other valuable considerations, we hereby assign, transfer and set over to Thompson and Jones Incorporated, all our right, title and interest in a certain contract dated the twenty-third of July One Thousand Nine Hundred and Thirty, between the Midvale Golf and Country Club Incorporated (Rochester) and Stanley Thompson and Company Limited (Toronto), which is hereby attached.”
Interestingly, Jones signed the September letter back to Toronto concerning the incorporation as “Bobby” Jones, with the name Bobby in parentheses.[i] (RTJ—signed “Bobby”—to ST&CoLtd, 1617 Star Building, Toronto. “Attn: Major John Inwood,” 4 Sept. 1930, Midvale Files, JP, CUA.) Except for his love letters to Ione which he signed “Bobby,” all of his correspondence used the signature “Robert Jones.” He then started signing his business letters “Robert T. Jones.” Later in this book, the genesis of the name “Robert Trent Jones” and the significance of the confusion between Robert Trent Jones, the golf architect, and Robert Tyre “Bobby” Jones, the golf champion, will be explored. Suffice it to say here that Robert Jones, the architect, changed his moniker within weeks of the other Bobby Jones winning the 1930 Grand Slam.
36 “grass grew very quickly and well” GMC, pp. 77-80; RTJ Sr. to AK, p. 28.
36 “some shallow ploughing” Department Memo, ST&CoLtd, Toronto: Alan Bland to Mr. Robert T. Jones, 311 Wilder Building, Rochester, NY, 5 Sept. 1930, Midvale Files, JP, CUA.
36 “routed through a large apple orchard” see “Specifications for Construction of Eighteen Hole Golf Course for the Midvale Country Club, Incorporated, at Rochester, New York, by T&J Inc., n.d. [ca. October 1930], in Midvale Files, JP, CUA.
37 “developed a luxuriant growth” RTJ to Alan Bland, Golf Limited, 46 Colbourne St., Toronto, 22 July 1931, Midvale Files, JP, CUA.
37 “Cornell University Agricultural Experiment Station” RTJ to Mr. C. B. Raymond, Extension Assistant Professor, New York State College of Agriculture, Cornell University Experimental Station, Ithaca, NY, 21 Oct. 1930.
37 “Midvale’s watering system” For a capsule summary of the situation regarding the installation of the irrigation system at Midvale and problems associated with the purchase of the water piping, see P. Wallen, Eastern Sales Representative, McWane Cast Iron Pipe Company, Birmingham, AL, to Mr. Robert T. Jones, T&J Inc., Rochester, NY, 26 Feb. 1931, Midvale Files, JP, CUA.
37 “declared a private Moratorium” Department Memo, ST&CoLtd: ST to Robert Jones, 12 Jan. 1931, Midvale Files, JP, CUA.
37 “could not afford to pay” RTJ to Jack Pirie, Sec., Professional Golfers’ Association, First National Bank Building, Chicago, IL, 12 Mar. 1931, PGA Files, JP, CUA.
37 “lawyers got next to nothing” Alan Bland encouraged Thompson and Jones to seek legal advice in pursuit of what was owed to them by Midvale as early as May 1931. See Department Memo, ST&CoLtd, Toronto: Alan Bland to Robert Jones, 312 Wilder Building, Rochester, NY, “Subject: Midvale,” 9 May 1931, Midvale Files, JP, CUA. Jones assessed the “Midvale situation” and the status of their legal case against the country club in a long letter to Thompson dated 9 Oct. 1931, in the Midvale Files, JP. CUA.
38 “do not be downcast” Department Memo, ST&CoLtd, Toronto: ST to Robert Jones, Esq., 312 Wilder Building, Rochester, NY, 6 Mar. 1931, Midvale Files, JP, CUA.
38 “all of the world is insignificant” RTJ, Rochester, NY, to ITD, Wells College, Aurora, NY, 26 Jan. 1931 and 18 Feb. 1931; RTJ, Hotel Syracuse, Syracuse, NY, to ITD, Wells College, Aurora, NY, 9 Mar. 1931; RTJ, Rochester, NY, to ITD, 81 Hawthorne Place, Montclair, NJ, 13 Mar. 1931 and 19 Mar. 1931; RTJ, Rochester, NY, to ITD, Wells College, Aurora, NY, 24 Mar. 1931, 26 Mar. 1931, 13 Apr. 1931, 21 May 1931, and 28 May 1931; ; RTJ, Rochester, NY, to ITD, 81 Hawthorne Place, Montclair, NJ, 17 June 1931, 22 June 1931, and 30 June 1931.
38 “But for that little nest egg” It wasn’t just Midvale going broke and Ione departing for Europe that left Jones gloomy in the summer of 1931, but other bright prospects were also growing dim. 1n 1930 Thompson had started a 27-hole project for General Electric on Carleton Island, just on the U.S. side in the St. Lawrence River. For what was to be three nine-hole courses, Thompson’s company was supposed to earn roughly $20,000 on a project whose total cost was estimated at $100,000.
Thompson had Jones go with him for a look around Carleton Island in mid-July 1930, not long after Jones returned from his introductory visit to the Toronto office. (See RTJ, Rochester, NY, to ITD, 81 Hawthorne Place, Montclair, NJ, 5 July 1930. Jones wrote in the letter: “Mr. Thompson comes in tonight. We are to get a prelim vision of the Midvale tomorrow. (Do you mind my working on Sunday?) Monday we go to the islands for two or three days.”) An island in the archipelago of the “Thousand Islands” straddling the U.S.-Canadian border in the St. Lawrence River as it emerges from the northeast corner of Lake Ontario, Carleton Island was a mostly untamed 1,800 acres of open grassland, all but a few parcels of which had been bought up by General Electric prior to the crash of 1929 so as to make the island into an exclusive executive resort. G.E. already operated a corporate retreat at Association Island, just west of Watertown, New York, and some 18 miles south of Carleton Island. In 1918, the company had a six-hole golf course built on the island, which was only 65 acres in size, to go along with such other recreational amenities as fishing, boating, and horseback riding. In the Twenties, the Association Island course was expanded to nine holes, with floodlights for night play. In the summer of 1929, over 3,500 GE employees and their families enjoyed the island. With such a success on its hands (but Association Island plagued by flooding problems), G.E. the same year purchased Carleton Island, near the town of Cape Vincent, for a new recreation camp. The larger island could accommodate 27 holes. (See “G.E. To Reopen Association Island Camp,” Schenectady Gazette, 28 Sept. 1945, 3. On Carleton Island, see Douglas Pugh, “Preservation and Public Archaeology at Carleton Island,” Jan. 2010, accessed on 2 May 2012 at http://oswego.academia.edu/DouglasPippin/Talks/89180/Preservation_and_Public
Jones had no major role in the design of the three 9-hole layouts, which were designated in Thompson’s written plans as the “A,” “B,” and “C” courses. Routings were indeed done for the trio of courses: they were each to play to a par of 36 and measure 3,250, 3,410, and 3,370 yards, respectively. (ST&CoLtd, “Specifications and Plans of Golf Courses for the General Electric Realty Corporation on Carleton, Island, N.Y.,” n.d. [ca. Apr. 1930], in General Electric Files, JP, CUA.) Jones visited Carleton Island at least twice in the summer of 1930 and may have shared some ideas about the design with Thompson or his representatives. But chiefly Jones’s involvement with Carleton Island came in receiving checks from G.E. headquarters in Schenectady and making sure that the contractor doing the construction (once again it was Sweeney and Boland) got paid—and that Thompson & Jones, Inc., got its cut of the money. (Interestingly, the agreement to design and build the golf at Carleton Island, finalized in October 1930, was between G.E, and Thompson & Jones, not Stanley Thompson & Company, Ltd. One may wonder whether Thompson, for legal reasons involving G.E., or perhaps political reasons, needed the partnership with Jones to facilitate doing business in the States—and that was why Thompson so quickly brought on a young and unproven Jones as a partner in 1930, even for the job at Midvale. Certainly, once New Deal and other government money became available for golf course construction in response to the Depression, it would not have been possible for a purely Canadian company to get such contracts.) As the G.E. deal had materialized prior to his coming on board, however, Jones was informed by Major Inwood that Thompson would get the entirety of the $5,000 course layout fee, but that “the profit fee or supervision percentage [of 10%] is to be paid to your Company” twice a month by General Electric following its receipt of progress reports from Thompson on the course construction. (Department Memo, Stanley Thompson & Company Limited, Toronto: John Inwood to Robert T. Jones, Esq., c/o Thompson & Jones, Inc., 311 Wilder Building, Rochester, NY, “Re: Carleton Island,” 11 Oct. 1930, General Electric Files, JP, CUA.) These reports were prepared not by Jones but by the Toronto office, indicating that Jones’s involvement with Carleton Island was chiefly about processing checks from Schenectady and paying bills. Jones certainly did not benefit much materially from the deal.
The deal was soon stopped in its tracks by the Depression. In late May 1931 General Electric postponed the contract for its Carleton Island project “for at least a year.” (See RTJ to Ray C. Hummell, Mgr., Massachusetts Bonding & Insurance Co., 26-30 White Memorial Building, Syracuse, NY, 26 May 1931, in General Electric Files, JP, CUA.) Jones was cancelling an application he had made with Massachusetts Bonding and Insurance Company for a “surety” covering Thompson & Jones’s contract with G.E. for the Carleton Island golf courses.
When the year was up, postponement turned into complete cancellation. When the enterprise went belly up, Thompson & Jones had completed fourteen of the 27 holes. From the looks of the plans, the golf courses at Carleton Island—part and parcel of a wondrous landscape and natural habitat unique to the great river, “with meadows of wild grass where deer roam among rows of lilac trees” (Kim Lunman, “Ghost of a Gilded Age: Carleton Island’s Wyckoff Villa,” at Thousand Islands Life website, posted 15 Sept. 2008 and accessed on 2 May 2012 at http://www.thousandislandslife.com/BackIssues/Archive/tabid/393/articleType/ArticleView
/articleId/71/Ghost-of-a-gilded-age-Carleton-Islands-Wyckoff-Villa.aspx—could very well have turned out to be truly sensational—perhaps the greatest achievement of the partnership between Thompson and Jones, and one of the most spectacular golfing venues in all of North America. (The construction methods used to build the golf course at Carleton Island were state-of-the-art, and the construction site very “modern,” at exactly the same time Midvale was being built in a more backward way. Looking back at it from the vantage of 1938 Jones gave the following description of the work: “The average depth of the top-soil covering the island was about one foot. Fortunately, in several places on the island there were low spots which nature had filled, over many decades, with rich soil from the surrounding higher ground. A scoop shovel was placed in each of these pits and kept busy filling the trucks. The earth carried to the chosen green sites was placed as nearly as possible to meet with our design. Then the mounds and green contours were formed by pushing the soil around with a bulldozer (a mechanical horse made from a large caterpillar tractor with a steel plate in front which can be adjusted up or down, left or right, similar to a road scraper). The cost of that job was nearly 80% mechanical and unquestionably this was the most efficient procedure.” RTJ, Golf Course Architecture [New York, 1938], p. 11. This publication, a promotional brochure whose purpose was to cultivate business for Thompson & Jones, will be discussed at length in Chapter 5.)
Today the rare summer tourist to Carleton Island can visit the remains of the British military fort from the American Revolution and the shell of the once-opulent Carleton Villa, built in 1894, as the palatial summer home of William O. Wyckoff, the marketing genius who made a fortune selling a new invention of the era, the Remington typewriter.[ii] But no sign of what would have been a magnificent resort golf course can be found. (On the Internet there are numerous links to ads from the late 1800s and early 1900s for different Remington model typewriters appearing n catalogs published by Wycoff, Seamans, and Benedict. For an example, see http://blog.library.si.edu/tag/remington-typewriters/, accessed on 3 May 2012.
38 “in and around the Finger Lakes” Robert Jones, T&J Inc., to ST, “Re: New Construction,” 27 June 1931, in Stanley Thompson Files, JP, CUA.)
39 “jobs performed by Jones’s company” Such was the case for the Lake Placid Golf & Country Club in the Adirondacks, where a second nine was being contemplated to round out an earlier nine that had been designed in 1925 by the Prestwick-born Scottish designer Seymour Dunn, a job that went to Dunn himself. (RTJ, The Lake Placid-Marcy, Lake Placid, NY, to ITD, 81 Hawthorne Place, Montclair, NJ, 23 Sept. 1932, Lake Placid Files, JP, CUA. Upon its expansion to 18 holes in 1932, the Lake Placid Golf & Country Club changed its name to the Craig Wood Country Club, named after golfer Craig Wood, a native of Lake Placid, who had just won the first of his 21 PGA Championships.) Jones ended up counting a great deal on the Lake Placid job. The night that he heard that Thompson & Jones was not getting the job, he complained to Ione: “They said they liked our routing and layout the best of any, but they didn’t see how they could afford it. We are a little dazed at that, because we were told to plan a championship course and now we find that they can’t afford it. We could have cut the cloth to fit had we known.”[iii] Most of the prospects on Jones’s list were looking only for “3 new holes,” “remodeling 3 greens,” “adding one green and fairway trapping,” and the like, and very few of them became jobs performed by Jones’s company.
During the Depression, some golf architects tried to hold the line on the fees they required, whereas others agreed to take jobs well their normal fees. Stanley Thompson wrote to Jones about this situation on 25 July 1935: “I had a talk with [English-born golf architect] Herbert Strong in Montreal, and he apparently is disgusted at the way some of the architects are taking jobs at relief wages. I told him of our contact with [John R.] Van Kleek in Lake Placid and other places, and said that we had been hard pushed, but had not reduced our service to such a low level as to accept mere wages for our plans, etc.” The letter is in the Stanley Thompson Files, Jones Papers, Cornell University Archives. Apparently, Van Kleek made a budget proposal for the Lake Placid job that was sufficiently low to put into question the propriety of the higher bid made by Thompson-Jones.
39 “hanging our fate on it” RTJ to IDT, c/o American Express Co., 11 Rue Scribe, Paris, France, 2 Mar. 1932.
40 “we shall be so happy” RTJ, Toronto, Canada, to ITD, 81 Hawthorne Place, Montclair, NJ, 11 June 1932.
40 “Isn’t it grand news!” The quotes are from two different letters that Jones wrote to Ione from Toronto on 25 June 1932.
40 “I’m worthy, too” The quotes are taken from a series of letters Jones wrote to Ione during 1932, including the letters from 15 July, 20 and 31 Aug., 28 Oct., and 16 Nov.
41 “my morbid period of melancholy” RTJ, Rochester, NY, to IDT, c/o American Express Co., 11 Rue Scribe, Paris, France, 3 Mar. 1932.
41 “the road of my ambition” RTJ, Chateau Lake Louise, Alberta, to IDT, 81 Hawthorne Place, Montclair, NJ, 29 May 1932.
41 “I couldn’t collect” RTJ Sr. to AK, p. 30.
41 “net worth of $26.24” T&J Inc., “Corporation Income Tax Return for Fiscal Year 1931,” Form 1120A, copy in Internal Revenue Service Files, JP, CUA. One of the new courses for which Jones had high hopes in 1931 was a “nine-holer” to be built in LeRoy, not far from Stafford, on property owned by the Woodward family. The Woodwards had amassed a fortune by pioneering a national market for Jello-O, for which Orator Frank Woodward (Orator was his first name), an inventor of so-called “proprietary medicines,” had bought the rights for a mere $450. (On the Woodward family and its Jello fortune, see “The Woodward Family,” accessed on 4 May 2012, at http://www.woodwardmemoriallibrary.org/family.php.) “I have been trying to get a hold of Woodward, the Jello man,” Jones wrote Ione in October 1932. “I want to get him to do something. Oh, dearest, I’ve got to. ‘No’ for answer just won’t do.” (RTJ, Rochester, NY, to ITD, 81 Hawthorne Place, Montclair, NJ, 5 Oct. 1932.) But Woodward’s answer was no. The youngest Woodward son, Donald, played golf and Orator decided that his boy should design the family’s golf course, which he did. Opening in 1932, Woodward’s private course evolved into the LeRoy Country Club. The same sort of thing happened near Fulton, New York, where Jones got a job remodeling five greens for a public golf course known as Emerick Park, located on a beautiful piece of property adjacent to the Oswego River, when what Jones wanted to do was redesign the entire golf course, one that had been originally laid out by Frederick Emerick, the son of the owner of the property, who had donated the acreage for the public’s enjoyment. (In 1936 the public links at Emerick Park became Battle Island State Park Golf Course. The work Jones did at Emerick Park in 1931-32 had been arranged by Stanley Emerick, who Jones refers to as the “donor of Emerick Park to the State of New York” (RTJ to T.C. Briggs, City Manager, City Hall, Rochester, NY, 12 July 1933, RTJ Papers, Cornell University.) The exact year the course opened at Emerick Park is unknown, but it had to be before 1930, as the 14 May 1930 edition of The Fulton Patriot, in a column entitled “Bill Booster Says,” there is a report that “Fully three hundred of the golfing pastime availed themselves of the privilege of the links at the Emerick Park on Sunday.” Accessed at http://www.fultonpubliclibrary.info/Bookplate.pdf.)
42 “charge less than our usual fee” RTJ to Professor Leonard Urquhart, Lincoln Hall, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, 26 Jan. 1931, Ithaca Country Club Files, JP, CUA. For more early correspondence between Jones and Urquhart pertaining to a remodeling project at Ithaca CC, see L.V. Urquhart, School of Civil Engineering, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, to Thompson and Jones, 312 Wilder Building, Rochester, NY. 12 June and 30 June 1931; RTJ to Prof. L. C. Urquhart, Chairman, Golf Committee, Ithaca CC, Ithaca, NY, 1 Oct. and 7 Oct. 1931; RTJ to Stanley Thompson, Esq., Toronto, “Subject: Ithaca Country Club,” 2 Dec. 1931. All of these letters are in the Ithaca CC Files, JP, CUA.
42 “the standard 10 percent” T&J Inc., Agreement with Ithaca Country Club to provide plans and specifications for a twenty-seven-hole golf course, Nov. 1931. This document, whose date was not filled in, was signed by “Robert Jones” on behalf of T&J Inc. The line for the signature of an Ithaca Country Club official remains blank. Copy in Ithaca Country Club Files, JP, CUA.
42 “wages of the superintendent” RTJ, Rochester, NY, to Mr. B. E. Sanford, Ithaca Country Club, Ithaca, NY, 17 May 1932, Ithaca Country Club Files, JP, CUA.
42 “speedy action on the matter” G. W. Milnes, T&J Inc., to Professor L. C. Urquhart, College of Engineering, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, 5 Feb. 1932, Ithaca Country Club Files, JP, CUA.
43 “something will turn up” RTJ, Rochester, NY, to ITD, 81 Hawthorne Place, Montclair, NJ, 17 May 1932.
43 “What a life!” ibid., 24 May 1932.
43 “entire set-up had changed” RTJ to Robert Hutchinson, County Courthouse, Ithaca, NY, 12 July 1932, Ithaca Country Club Files, JP, CUA.
44 “mutual agreement go ahead” Cedrick H. Guise, 207 Iroquois Rd., Ithaca, NY, to Mr. R. T. Jones, T&J Inc., 6 East 45th Street, New York, NY, 28 Nov. 1934, Ithaca Country Club Files, JP, CUA.
45 “to be paid in full” Julian C. Smith, Breaking Ninety: A History of the Country Club of Ithaca, 1900-1989 (Ithaca, NY: Ithaca County Club, Inc., 1990), pp. 54-55.
45 “totally lost to Cornell’s North Campus” see Julian C. Smith, Breaking Ninety: A History of the Country Club of Ithaca, 1900-1989 (Ithaca, NY: Country Club of Ithaca, 1990).
45 “can liquidate some of these assets” ST to Prof. L. C. Urquhart, Lincoln Hall, CU, Ithaca, NY, 2 Mar. 1932, Ithaca Country Club Files, JP, CUA.
45 “enamored with the potential; of such courses” On “Short Courses,” see T&J Inc., Rochester, NY, “Report on Proposed ‘Short Hole Courses,’ Submitted to Emergency Committee on Welfare Relief, Frank T. Smith, Chairman,” n. d. [possibly early 1932], copy in Stanley Thompson Files, JP, CUA. The report is over 20 pages long. The Emergency Committee on Welfare Relief was established by the Hoover Administration in October 1930 and was then expanded as part of FDR’s New Deal programs. On 19 Feb. 1932 Jones wrote a letter to Mr. Vincent S. Bennett, c/o Committee on Unemployment Relief, City Hall, Rochester, NY, “presenting herewith a report covering the feasibility of constructing a Short Hole Golf Course in the city park system with unemployed labor.” Stanley Thompson Files, JO, CUA.
45 “up-to-datedness of the course” T&J Inc., “Announcing an Annual Maintenance Service for Golf Clubs,” n.d. [most likely late 1931 or early 1932], in Stanley Thompson Files, JP, CUA. Thompson engaged the George H. MacDonald Advertising Agency of Toronto to prepare a brochure advertising the golf course maintenance service. The elements of the service were as follows: “First: Original Consultation. Upon request, we will visit your course, study its situation and discuss with the Green Committee or directors your particular problems, how improvements could be made, etc. This places you under no obligation and no charge is made other than traveling expenses incurred during the trip. Second: The Maintenance Service. (a) Thorough inspection is made of soil and turf conditions; (b) The layout is studied and recommendations are made concerning bunkering and other architectural features with estimates of cost; (c) We investigate the number of men employed, the division of labor, the material and equipment used; (d) A check-up is made of work done and materials used to ascertain if club is receiving the best returns for the money spent; (e) Our observations and recommendations are incorporated in a detailed report; (f) Thereafter we make monthly visits, or oftener if necessary, to check conditions, each visit followed at once by a report to the Chairman of the Green Committee; (g) The Spring Report is a comprehensive survey of the suggested year’s work.” It seems from Jones’s records that no U.S. courses availed themselves of this service, but that a few Canadian courses had done so. The model for the maintenance contract that was being offered derived from what the Canadian railway companies had required for its courses that Thompson’s firm had built.
45 “’pay-as-you-play’ courses” In late 1931 T&J Inc. prepared what seems to have been its first such proposal for a pay-as-you-play golf course: “Report on Proposed Pay-As-You-Play Golf Course for Raymond M. Slotter at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania,” n.d. Pay-as-You- Pay Files, JP, CUA. Slotter, chair of the Penn Athletic Club’s Golf Committee, entered into a lengthy correspondence with Thompson-Jones about the possibility of developing pay-as-you-play courses in the Philadelphia area. A Jenkintown resident and an ’09 graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, Slotter was president of Hoover-Slotter, Inc., a real estate and insurance firm. He was a member of the Merion golf club. Besides his interest in developing pay-as-you-play courses, Slotter also corresponded with Jones about “the merits of Club Managers and how best to solve the various problems of maintenance” at municipal courses. Raymond M. Slotter, Penn Athletic Club, Rittenhouse Square, Philadelphia, to Mr. Robert T. Jones, Rochester, NY, 22 Sept, 4 Dec., and 7 Dec. 1931. Like Jones, Slotter, too, worked to interest his city government in using public relief labor both for constructing and maintaining public golf courses. The author does not know whether Slotter (1887-c. 1936) was in any way successful in this effort. In 1934 Jones prepared a report on “Municipal Golf Courses: A Suggestion for the Useful Application of Work-for-Relief Labor in Pennsylvania,” for Robert L. Johnson, Director of Emergency Relief, State of Pennsylvania, copy in Public Works Administration Files, JP, CUA.
45 “may be able to pay half of that” RTJ, Toronto, to ITD, 81 Montclair Place, Montclair, NJ, 14 June 1932.
46 “a monumental achievement” On the golf course at Banff Springs at its history, see Barclay, Golf in Canada, pp. 362-363 and 368-370; Barclay, The Toronto Terror, pp. 63-67 and pp. 164-165. See also Andrew Penner, “Banff Springs Golf Course: A Mountain Masterpiece,” accessed on 28 Apr. 2012 at http://www.travelgolf.com/banff2.htm, and Sandy Chalmers, “The History of Golf in Banff,” RBS Museum Talks, accessed 29 Apr. 2012, at http://www.list.co.uk/event/243056-the-history-of-golf-in-banff/. Many years later, after many dozens of mountain golf courses had been built all over the world, Trent Jones would called Banff Springs “the granddaddy of mountain courses” (GMC, p. 153.)
46 “none that could express more love” RTJ, Rochester, NY, to ITD, 81 Hawthorne Place, Montclair, NJ, 19 May 1932.
47 “exhilarated by the experience” Spending a few days in Toronto before journeying on westward, Jones accompanied Thompson on inspection visits of three of his courses and played golf with the lieutenant governor of Ontario at Stanley’s Cutten Fields course in Guelph. At the start of the trip, as he wrote Ione, “I made a resolution to meet as many interesting people as possible, going out of my way to ask a volley of questions” (RTJ, Toronto, to ITD, 81 Hawthorne Place, Montclair, NJ, 29 May 1932.) Though every letter he wrote while on the trans-Canadian trek characteristically emphasized how much he was missing Ione: “I think of you constantly. It is painful; being away for so long” (RTJ, Canadian Pacific Hotels, Toronto (postmark), to ITD, 81 Hawthorne Place, Montclair, NJ, 31 May 1932.) Jones was clearly enjoying himself. “The porters on the train are in an uproar,” he exulted. “They think I am ‘Bobby Jones’ of Atlanta! I didn’t say anything to the contrary.” (RTJ, Canadian Pacific Railway En Route [Postmarked Winnipeg, Manitoba], to ITD, 81 Hawthorne Place, Montclair, NJ, 27 June 1932.)
47 “everything cost a mint” RTJ, Canadian Pacific Hotels, Chateau Lake Louise, Lake Louise, Alberta, to ITD, 81 Hawthorne Place, Montclair, NJ, 2 June 1932.
47 “Devil’s Cauldron” Prior to Thompson’s design, there existed an 18-hole course at Banff that had been designed by Donald Ross in 1919 and opened in 1924 (par 73 at 6,402 yards), but, as Ross biographer Bradley S. Klein has pointed out, Ross’s course did not venture onto the rougher ground to the south, nor extend onto the densely wooded ground on the west side to the Spray River and the hotel building.” Into his own design Thompson incorporated “many of Ross’s hole corridors, including tee and green sites,” for what became holes No. 2, 6, 17, and 18 of Thompson’s design. Prior to Ross’s course, a 9-hole course existed at Banff, dating back to 1910-11, that had been designed by resident golf professional William E. “Bill” Thomson, another Scottish immigrant from the turn of the century, and Stanley Thompson also incorporated a few holes from the original Thomson nine, which lay along a floodplain on the south side of the Bow River. But the important point is that Thompson’s design was brand new in many of its most essential respects, particularly in “carving out very difficult terrain in two new areas, for a four-hole segment on wooded ground on the Spray River near the hotel and for a dramatic two-hole section to the south near the stark upslope of Mount Rundle. It was there that Thompson created the “Devil’s Cauldron.” For an excellent brief history of Banff’s design history, see Klein, Discovering Donald Ross: The Architect and His Golf Courses (Chelsea, MI: Sleeping Bear Press, 2001), pp. 199-203.
47 “the surrounding mountains” RTJ, handwritten report on Banff Springs Golf Course, written on Canadian Pacific Railway Company stationary, pp. 13, n.d. [most likely mid- to late June 1932], in Banff Springs Files, JP, CUA.
48 “protect the greens all winter long” ibid, pp. 6-7.
48 “told the young greenkeeper” GMC, p. 80-81.
48 “greatly benefitted from his Banff trip” Jones does not seem to have ever gotten got any of the consulting fee that the Canadian Pacific Railway paid Thompson for the annual report on Banff because, when Stanley told him shortly after Robert came back from the trip that he might need him to make it again soon to follow up on “a lead which Stanley feels is good from a wealthy Canadian for a private course,” Jones wrote Ione saying, “This time I would insist on getting a good part of the $500 coming to us.” Nonetheless, Jones benefitted greatly from his Banff trip, principally in terms of his growing sense of professionalism and the heightening of his already lofty ambitions for a great career in golf.
49 “the country’s most famous golf architect” These quotes come from a series of Robert’s letters to Ione: RTJ, Ford Hotel Toronto, to ITD, 81 Hawthorne Place, Montclair, NJ, 4 June 1932; RTJ, Canadian Pacific Hotels, Toronto (postmark), to ITD, 81 Hawthorne Place, Montclair, NJ, 10 June 1932; RTJ, Canadian Pacific Railway En Route (postmarked Winnipeg, Manitoba), to ITD, 81 Hawthorne Place, Montclair, NJ, 8 July 1932; RTJ, Canadian Pacific Railway En Route (postmarked Rochester), to ITD, 81 Hawthorne Place, Montclair, NJ, 11 July 1932; RTJ, Rochester, NY, to ITD, 81 Hawthorne Place, Montclair, NJ, 27 May 1932. It is not possible always to ascertain Jones’s location from either his stationary, e.g., Canadian Pacific Hotels, or the postmarks of his letters, e.g., Toronto, because, wherever he stayed, he seems to have taken hotel (or railroad) stationary with him, as many travelers do. Also, the letters he wrote while traveling across Canada were then mailed from different postal locations.
49 “don’t ever want to stand still” RTJ, Rochester, NY, to ITD, 81 Hawthorne Place, Montclair, NJ, 16 June and 8 July 1932.
49 “really tough times to get anything done or accepted” RTJ, Rochester, NY, to ITD, 81 Hawthorne Place, Montclair, NJ, 18 Oct. and 10 Nov. 1932.
50 “couldn’t have been easy for Jones” ST, Toronto, to Mr. Robert Jones, Wilder Bldg., Rochester, NY, 28 July and 26 Aug. 1932.
50 “sad state of affairs” RTJ, Rochester, NY, to ITD, 81 Hawthorne Place, Montclair, NJ, 20 Aug. 1932.
50 “please don’t think we won’t be able to get married” These quotes come from a series of Robert’s letters to Ione: RTJ, Rochester, to IDT, c/o American Express Co., 11 Rue Scribe, Paris, France, 4 Mar. 1932; RTJ, Rochester, NY, to ITD, 81 Hawthorne Place, Montclair, NJ, 13 May, 16 May, and 21 May 1932.
50 “we will” Spending so many dark and lonely nights in stray hotel rooms at a distance from Ione that geographically was less than 350 miles but seemed like 3,500, it was impossible for Jones not to sometimes let his fears and jealousies about his beloved take over. When she returned from Europe (where she had suffered a bad leg injury that required surgery) in the spring of 1932, it worried him that “the exuberant girl of yesterday is now the charming lady of to-day, a much more polished person…. You have taken on certain customs and ways that have been your busy life these last few months…. I have taken a keen dislike of Paris. The present darling Ione has lost much of her spirit.” What ate at Robert was the thought that Ione did not love him as much as before: “My feeling at first was like that of a child when told there wasn’t a Santa Claus. Things that are troubling you will all disappear if you want them badly enough. I know that you have the mental power and the will to adjust yourself and as a result be very happy. In writing my previous letter to you, I felt like a ship without a rudder. I wouldn’t have said what I am saying now…. Please don’t think we won’t be able to get married, we will. Your thinking that you might have to get along without me was the root of later evil and the reason for your queer thoughts.” After Robert got over his concerns over how her European trip undermined her love for him, Jones found new matters of love to plague him. He wondered why she didn’t write him as many letters as he wrote her. And in the letters she did write him, “Why don’t you answer most of the things that I talk about in my letters?” It bothered Robert much more than he let on that a male friend of Ione’s was taking her out occasionally to see movies: “If I did not understand the relation with Dick I’d be jealous no end.” It also bothered him that she had gotten a full time job working for the New York Public Library: “I am not really keen about your promising to work for a whole year. That would mean if we had the opportunity to go to Rio, Bermuda, or California, I would have to go without you or not go, and honestly, darling, I couldn’t go anywhere without you for long. I want you near me always.” Sometimes it seemed that Ione was not trying very hard to find ways to come see him. Most importantly, was Ione sharing their plans for an engagement and marriage with her mother and father? Robert sensed that Howard Davis was not taking the “marriage talk” seriously: “What did you mean your Daddy kidded you about my letter? Tell him I’m serious!” These quotes are also from a series of Robert’s letters to Ione: RTJ, Rochester, NY, to ITD, 81 Hawthorne Place, Montclair, NJ, 11 May, 17 May, 21 May, 26 June, 20 Aug., and 5 Oct. 1932.
51 “our respective interests” Letter series: RTJ, Rochester, NY, to ITD, 81 Hawthorne Place, Montclair, NJ, 20 June, 23 June, 20 Aug., and 31 Aug. 1932.