Robert Trent Jones, Jr. – Modern Masterpieces

With a career spanning 60 years designing over 280 courses in more than 40 countries on six continents, Robert Trent Jones, Jr. is one of the world’s most respected and active golf course architects. Having learnt his trade under the tutelage of his father, Robert Trent Jones Snr, he is a true artist. His company Robert Trent Jones II Architects has built a worldwide reputation for creating strategic, highly playable golf courses, while listening to the land.

His design philosophy is aimed at making golf enjoyable for everyday players and dislikes seeing golfers searching for their ball in the rough. A forward-thinking architect, he also embraces environmental awareness and sustainability in his designs, ensuring that he remains at the cutting edge of course architecture, safeguarding the popularity of this great sport into the 21st century. 

Let’s take a look at six recent designs…

Tanah Merah Country Club, Garden Course – Singapore

RTJ II’s redevelopment here began in 2018 and should be ready for play in early 2020. He said the course will feature “gently undulating fairways and greens, with long sweeping lines running throughout.” His clever routing creates three independent loops, with the front nine played as a ‘Garden Loop‘, holes 10 through 15 a six-hole ‘Sunrise Loop’, and 16 through 18 a three-hole ‘Learning Loop’. 

His ultimate aim was to elevate the playability of the course. “The pure enjoyment of the game will be enhanced tremendously with the new design,” he said. “The golf course provides a complete challenge, if so desired, as well as easy-to-play loops for a quick, casual experience.”

Hoiana Shores – Vietnam

Opened in 2019, this was RTJ II’s first foray into Vietnam. Located on the shoreline south of Hoi An, it forms part of a resort featuring luxury hotels and residential communities. It’s an immaculate rolling links that makes the most of natural dunes, while the spectacular finishing holes play along the beach with beautiful views of the Eastern Sea. 

Hoiana Shores course is a challenging layout but one that’s immensely rewarding with wonderful shapes and contours. The course was also one of the first in Southeast Asia to be designed in adherence to sustainability principles set out by the GEO Foundation – a UK-based non-profit dedicated to providing sustainability systems for golf. 

Costa Palmas – Mexico

Located on the Baja Peninsula of Mexico on the East Cape of Los Cabos, Costa Palmas opened in 2019 as the centrepiece of an exclusive resort community. At 7,221 yards with multiple tee boxes, the course was designed to be a flexible challenge, with the routing allowing for shorter loops. RTJ II described his design as “a golf symphony composed of three movements and two transitions.”

The opening six holes of this sandy links bump and run through dunes, then it winds into a six-hole upland stretch with wide fairways and views of the Sierra de la Laguna mountains, before turning towards the sea for the final stretch and the sweeping left-to-right par-4 18th that returns golfers back to the resort’s private marina. 

Hogs Head – Ireland

RTJ II’s first original design in Ireland opened in 2018 in the village of Waterville in County Kerry and features breathtaking mountain views and a series of spectacular clifftop holes. It’s a headlands course surrounded by farmland with the salmon-filled Finglas River coming into play on the first nine holes. Hogs Head is fast with firm links-like conditions and both a sound aerial and ground game can be rewarded depending on the changeable coastal weather. 

His design was inspired by the owners of the course, American businessmen Bryan Marsal and Tony Alvarez, who had a vision to create a world class golf course for friends who share their passion for golf. RTJ II said: “Our working motto has been, ‘built by friends for friends for fun.’ And we know this course will deliver the fun.” The property also features a stunning 17,000-square-foot clubhouse built to resemble a Viking meeting hall, and The Lodge, a luxurious €20m hotel with 48 bedrooms set on the shores of the tranquil Lough Currane.

Zala Springs – Hungary

Located in the wine producing region of Balaton, Zala Springs Golf Resort is Hungary’s first purpose built golf resort community. RTJ II’s 18-hole course is at its heart and All Square ranks it as the country’s best course. Suitable for hosting professional tournaments, it also caters for higher handicaps with a great variety of challenges and four tee boxes at each hole. The picturesque lakes and hills of the Zala Valley were incorporated into the fairways which run alongside the local vineyards. 

The quality of the golf course is matched by the state-of-the-art, three-storied clubhouse which has a golf simulator room, excellent food and wine, and a beautiful terrace overlooking an 18-hole practice green that is illuminated in the evenings. 

Poppy Hills – United States

RTJ II’s complete renovation on the coast of California opened in 2014 with the ambition of being a course worthy of its highly vaunted neighbours Pebble Beach and the Robert Trent Jones Snr-designed Spyglass Hill. But in keeping with his design philosophy he also wanted to build a layout that was playable to public golfers. 

The 6,833-yard course plays through forests of pine and cypress, with the tall tress acting as hazards. It provides great entertainment with a number of sharp doglegs encouraging shot shaping. There’s little rough and the large greens, inspired by those at Augusta National, are guarded by water and deep bunkers. In building the course, RTJ II mapped the resident rare dwarf cypress trees and routed the holes and water channels around them.

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