Jones, Jr. was born in 1939 and learned about golf at Winged Foot Golf Club from the legendary Tommy Armour, who not only taught Jones the techniques of good golf but also captured his imagination with the folklore surrounding the game. After studying geology and majoring in history and American Studies at Yale and attending a year of law school at Stanford University, Jones, Jr. graduated into the family business.
His earliest experience was working beside his father, Robert Trent Jones, Sr. on the legendary Spyglass Hill and other western projects in the 1960s. After apprenticing with the senior Jones for several years and assuming control of West Coast operations, Jones, Jr. expanded into Asia with solo international efforts including Bangkok’s Navatanee Golf Course and Japan’s Karuizawa 72.
In 1972, the son left his father’s firm and set out on his own by founding Robert Trent Jones II Golf Course Architects. His designs have scaled mountains, enlivened deserts, ranged across prairies, carved through forests, reclaimed wastelands, and rolled down to the edges of the world’s oceans. Known as the father of environmental golf course design, Jones respects and embraces the land in his work: Whether carefully routing holes around ancient holy sites on the lava fields of the Hawaiian Islands or devising drainage systems that help purify water on the site of former oil fields in Casper, Wyoming, Jones has made it his signature to listen to the land.
Jones describes his architectural style as “Complex, eclectic, and wide ranging—like a jazz musician—like Waller or Gillespie. It’s got hints of Tillinghast, McKenzie, and Ross, but it’s still my own.” He also suggests that his style is always evolving as he learns new things from other courses, evident in such recent and award-winning designs as Osprey Meadows at Tamarack Resort in Donnelly, Idaho; Bro Hof Slott Golf Club in Bro, Sweden; and Chambers Bay, in University Place, Washington.
In creating his courses, Jones likes to present golfers with a blend of penal, strategic, and heroic golf puzzles up to each golfer to solve for himself, often by determining the best position from which to attack the holes.