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Ever wondered where Robert Trent Jones, Jr. would take his group of buddies to play golf? Fancy knowing which golf course he wished he’d designed? 

This is the series where we speak to some of the game’s most respected and talented golf course architects. But this is not your traditional interview.

Yes, we delve into their architectural influences and design philosophies. But alongside those expected questions, there are some light-hearted ones, like if they could only play one golf course for the rest of their life, where would it be!? 

Essentially, we’re scratching underneath the surface to understand away from the media and day-to-day demands of their professional life, where you’d find these gurus of the game enjoying a quiet round of golf.

Let us introduce… Robert Trent Jones, Jr.

Son of the legendary Robert Trent Jones, Sr., Robert Trent Jones, Jr., or Bobby to his friends and family, was effectively born into the game of golf. 

Trent Jones, Sr. was a visionary golf course architect, taking golf course design to new levels and exporting his design philosophy worldwide. He was, let’s be honest, one of the most influential golf course architects of all time.

Therefore you’d fully understand if Trent Jones, Jr. had decided to carve his career in a completely different industry.

But not Robert Trent Jones, Jr. In fact quite the opposite. He seamlessly entered the world of golf course architecture, picking up pretty much where his father left off. 

The early years

Born in 1939, Trent Jones, Jr. learnt about the game of golf at iconic Winged Foot Golf Club, renowned for its two A.W.Tillinghast layouts. It was here that alongside learning how to play golf, his interest in the history, heritage and folklore of the game grew.

His first foray into golf design was actually supporting his father, working on the sensational Spyglass Hill Golf Course on the Monterey Peninsula in California. 

Over the years, Trent Jones, Jr. began taking more control of his father’s business, expanding into Asia, which is where his first solo international designs can be found. 

Present day

In 1972 he set up his own architectural practice, Robert Trent Jones II Golf Course Architects. This design firm is responsible for hundreds of world-class course designs worldwide.

Courses they’ve created have been littered with awards and recognition. Whilst at the same time, they’ve hosted countless tournaments across the world’s main tours.

Robert Trent Jones II Golf Course Architects Logo

And although these are noble achievements which would please most architects, it is his reputation for being the father of environmental golf course design which resonates deeply. 

Building courses which respect and embrace the surrounding landscape is of critical importance, regardless of where they’re located.

 Fast forward to today and the Trent Jones name, which is trademarked, is synonymous with well-designed and beautifully crafted golf courses the world over. 

Excellence in design, deep engagement with the brief and respect for nature all conspire to ensure Robert Trent Jones, Jr.’s reputation may even surpass his father’s. Now that would be some feat.

6 quick fire questions…

1. What got you into golf course architecture?

I played golf competitively at a high amateur level my whole life and was influenced in my early design philosophy by my father, working for him on Spyglass Hill.

Spyglass Hill Golf Course, Monterey, California
Spyglass Hill Golf Course. Photo Credit Evan Schiller

2. Which architects have had the greatest influence on your design style?

I admired A.W. Tillinghast designs, particularly his artistic work on features such as bunkers.

3. What is your architectural style?

My design philosophy is unique to each site.

There are many types of climates and geology that influence the style of my work, as well as its strategy and interpreting the playing approach.  Wind is especially important on the seaside courses, elevation, change in the mountain courses, etc. 

People often say we [Robert Trent Jones II Golf Course Architects] don’t have an identifiable, consistent style or rather suit our designs to the land upon which we are working and for the client for whom we are working. This is a compliment after 300+ projects!

4. Which golf course do you wish you’d designed and why?

People often ask me what’s my favorite golf course?  I ask, “to play or to design?” My response?  The next one will always be in the present and the passion will follow.

5. You get to choose a destination for you and your golfing buddies – where do you go and why?

I’d go to the Hawaiian islands and play one of the 10 courses we designed there.

I particularly enjoy the North Shore of Hawaii at Princeville. This is where we designed Princeville Makai Golf Club which was featured in Sports Illustrated (1972) as my initial work.

Princeville Makai Golf Club, Hawaii, Permission Given - resized

I also enjoy playing golf in Ireland, Australia, and Japan with friends as there are many courses open to the public.

6. Only one golf course you could play for the rest of your life. Which one and why?

Since I grew up in New Jersey, my favorite course of the classical art is Pine Valley Golf Club where I’m a member. 

I also enjoy playing the Pebble Beach courses since I live fairly close. 

These courses can all be explored in this post looking at the best public golf courses in Monterey, California

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