Like his brother Rees Jones, Robert Trent Jones Junior was born into the golf design business, learning the trade from his father and then spending the next four decades exploiting the opportunities his famous name has afforded him.
Initially Robert Junior worked fairly closely with his father, but later he set up his own business and worked hard to build what has become a giant global signature firm – hundreds of Robert Trent Jones II layouts have since been churned out by a series of design associates and project leaders. Jones himself oversees the running of the company with President Bruce Charlton, and relies on his design associates to produce work that fits the companies philosophy of appealing, visually exciting golf. While most of the courses designed by Jones Junior's company are a little empty strategically, there have been some decent courses created over the past few years. Best is probably Chambers Bay in Washington state, which was designed by Charlton, Jason Blasi and Jones and overlooks the Puget Sound with its bouncy, links-like fairways tumbling from a main ridge down toward the water.
A recent change at RTJ II has been the rather cynical embracing of the so-called ‘Green Movement’ with the company’s Green Proclamation supposedly placing the company at the forefront of a modern environmental age. While supporting sustainable golf is a worthy mantra for any design company, one needs to regard the RTJ II proclamation with a healthy a degree of skepticism. It's well and good to declare yourself a green golf architect, but unfortunately when you’ve already designed and built hundreds of courses around the world you tend to be marked more on what you have done in the field than what you are now saying in a press release.
It is likely that as Jones himself ages and perhaps moves into the background, the courses produced by the Robert Trent Jones II company may evolve and even improve. New clients should remain aware, however, that they are still hiring a pure ‘signature’ firm and the quality of their finished golf course will depend, in large part, on the quality of the allocated designer and his shaping team.
Robert Trent Jones II is one of the game’s largest and most prolific signature firms, and no doubt among the first names that developers will consider when appointing a new golf architect for their project.
For an independent appraisal of Robert Trent Jones II’s work or for general design advice please contact Global Golf Group.