Friday, September 6

Robert Trent Jones, Sr. on Heroic Golf

By John Coyne

Copyright © John Coyne. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

(Another installment in a series on Hall of Fame golf course architect Robert Trent Jones, Sr.)

Robert Trent Jones, Sr.
A HEROIC GOLF COURSE OFFERS A GREAT reward for a tremendous shot. It also means disaster for a misplayed shot. As Robert Trent Jones, Sr. explained it:

"A player stands on the tee and weighs risk against benefit. If he decides to bite off a slice of pond on a par-5, so that he has a chance of being on the green in two, he assumes the responsibility of perhaps a 230-yard carry dead straight, and a terrible penalty if he doesn't make it. The position of the traps, tilt or contour of the fairway, as well as the width or narrowness of the fairways, are all factors to be considered."

Jones used the 13th hole of the East Course of Dorado Beach in Puerto Rico, a dogleg left par-5, to explain what he achieved.

"The player may hit straight out to a relatively wide fairway, but to the left there is a pond of considerable width. Does the player attempt to take the short route, thereby placing him in a good position for a try at the green? Suppose he does, and makes it, is he going to be home safe in two?

"Here again, he is faced with a decision. The green is elevated, and protected in front by another pond about 75 yards wide. Behind the green, about 30 yards away is the Atlantic Ocean. And the green is well surrounded by traps as well. The courageous and capable golfer can reach it, but he will have to have made two thoroughly superb shots.

"Or the hole may be played conservatively. If he doesn't try to carry the first pond, but hits straightaway, he has an excellent chance of making par. In this case, however, he has no opportunity to try to make the green in two. His second shot must be played to the left which is the only approach by land to the green.

"The hole is fair to all, demanding to be sure, but it demonstrates clearly the rewards and penalties that should be innate to all great golf holes. What I also try and do is create a hard par and an easy bogey."

With a shy smile, Jones added, "Not everyone who plays golf appreciates this, however."

Related:
Bobby Jones, Robert Trent Jones and Peachtree Golf Club
The College-Educated Golf Course Architect
PGA Returns to Home of Robert Trent Jones, Sr.

John Coyne is a bestselling author whose latest novel is The Caddie Who Won the Masters. Learn more at John Coyne Books.

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