With each passing day before the U.S. Open in June, Robert Trent Jones Jr. becomes more popular with professional golfers.
“They’re certainly inquisitive,” said Jones, whose company designed Chambers Bay near Tacoma. Defending U.S. Open champion Martin Kaymer “and I had a chat at Augusta. He was asking a lot of questions and I was happy to help him.”
Jones’ crew moved 1.4 million cubic yards of mostly sandy soil to shape the links-style course. The result was 18 holes that will require the world’s best golfers to tap into their creative side to utilize Chambers Bay’s endless mounds, slopes and hills to their advantage.
“The players who haven’t been here before will think they’re a month early for the British Open,” Jones said.
Of golf’s four majors, three will play out on links courses. The British Open returns to St. Andrews and the PGA will be at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin. Links is a departure from typical PGA tour stops.
“It’s kind of back to the future with the ground game, the trampoline effect, the chasing out of the ball as opposed to the aerial game,” Jones said. “I’m hopeful it’s a paradigm for the future.”
Jones recalled his thoughts when he first looked at a site filled with sand dunes, weeds and scrub brush meandering through a reclaimed gravel mine.
“It wasn’t hard to see a golf course, it was quite hard to see a great golf course,” he said. “I’m born with that gene; I got it from my dad (legendary designer Robert Trent Jones Sr.). You have to do the routing and detail the rhythm of the course. It’s all about the rhythm of play.”
And his thoughts on a sunny April day at Chambers Bay?
“It’s a major work that will last long after I’m gone,” Jones said. “If you think about all the things you’ve worked hard on in your life, some of them haven’t fully panned out. We had a tragedy in our family, we lost a son, so that’s the depths of terrible emotion. This is the ecstasy on the other side. All the hard work is paying off.”
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