was born in 1906 in Ince, England, near the Trent River—from where his middle name is derived.
His family emigrated to America when Jones was five and settled in Rochester, N.Y. Life was difficult for the family, but the fact that another Rochester resident, Walter Hagen, would win the 1914 U.S. Open came to have a profound influence on Jones.
The game captured Jones’ imagination, and by the time he was a teenager he was caddying for Hagen in exhibitions and emerging as an accomplished player. At 21, he finished 10th as an amateur in the Canadian Open, but his playing career was undone by an ulcer.
Jones studied legendary architect Donald Ross’ fieldwork on the 36 holes he built at Oak Hill Country Club and picked Ross’ brain about the art of course design. Jones decided to pursue course architecture as a career and became the first person to study expressly for such, fashioning his own curriculum at Cornell University.
Jones partnered with Canadian architect Stanley Thompson from 1932–40 and even in the post-Depression era, they built timeless classics like Capilano in Vancouver and Banff in the Canadian Rockies. In 1948, Jones collaborated with golf’s “other” Bobby Jones, Robert Tyre Jones Jr., beloved American amateur, on the Peachtree Golf Club near Atlanta. Jones also is credited with making the 11th and the 16th holes at Augusta National two of the best holes in golf.
Jones championed the concept of “Heroic Golf,” meaning that if a player wanted to attempt a difficult shot, they be faced with a risk/reward. That’s where Jones became the first architect to regularly employ water as the ultimate hazard. All told, Jones designed or redesigned over 500 courses in 40 states and 35 countries. Right until the very end of a career, which spanned seven decades, Jones subscribed to the notion of “hard par-easy bogey.” Anglebrook, completed in 1998, was his very last creation.
Jones was golf’s original “U.S. Open Doctor” and designed and renovated many of the courses that stood up under the crucible of major championship golf. The best known among them were Oakland Hills (Birmingham, Mich.), the Olympic Club (San Fran.), Oak Hill (Rochester, N.Y.), Congressional (Bethesda, Md.) and Hazeltine National (Chaska, Minn.). Some of his other well-known projects are: Mauna Kea in Hawaii, Dorado Beach in Puerto Rico, the Atlanta Athletic Club and the Robert Trent Jones Golf Club and Golden Horseshoe in Virginia.
Jones and his wife Ione, had two sons, Robert Trent Jr. and Rees, both of whom worked under their father before becoming successful architects in their own right.
Jones died in 2000 at the age of 93.