While often accused of severity by those unable to “go low” on his challenging designs, RTJ Sr. was fond of saying that every hole ought to be a hard par but an easy bogey. At the same time, he was among the first American architects to recognize that “average golfers were punished far out of proportion to their playing skill.” Thus, his rethinking of punitive, parabolic greens designed more for drainage concerns than playability. Undulating, natural-looking putting surfaces became a trademark feature of his work, as did elongated tees offering journeymen golfers better opportunities for success.
Robert Trent Jones Sr.’s legacy has been kept alive and vital in the hands of his son, RTJ II, whose concern for sustainability, technological innovation and value for owners and players alike have continued apace. Continuing a family tradition cited by Herbert Warren Wind in a 1951 issue of the New Yorker, the name Robert Trent Jones Sr. became synonymous with architecture as an art form, not a science. “Follow the land,” he said famously, “don’t change the land.” A century later that mantra still serves as the guiding light for a company that defined golf course architecture in the modern era.