Meeting Robert Trent Jones Jr.

From the left, Robert Trent Jones Jr, me, Rich Tock Erin Hills's Director of Golf  and my friend Jeff

During my visit to Erin Hills I had the chance to meet and have a conversation with one of the greatest and most awarded golf architects, Mr. Robert Trent Jones Jr.

Known as the father of environmental golf course design and son of legendary Robert Trent Jones Sr., RTJ2 designed more then 270 courses in over 40 countries on all 5 continents.
Among its creatures Chambers Bay WA (2015 U.S. Open will be held there), The Links at Spanish Bay CA, CordeValle CA. Poppy Hills CA, Monarch Beach CA, The Prince Course HI, Osprey Meadows ID, The Celtic Manor Resort UK. He designed some courses in Italy as well: La Bagnaia Golf Resort in Tuscany, Antognolla Golf Club in Umbria and a new championship course near Rome that is expect to open soon, Terre dei Consoli.

I was so thrilled to meet a personality like him, a name that made and is still making, with his prestigious works, the history of the game.
Mr. Bobby Jones, as he introduced to me, was visiting Erin Hills the week after the U.S. Open in Merion.
He was there, invited by Erin Hill's Director of Golf Rich Tock, to see and explore in first person that corner of Ireland in Wisconsin named to host the 2017 U.S. Open.
He was truly fascinated by the beauties of that place as I was captured by his descriptions and his stories and anecdotes.
An architect, a poet, and an artist.

We started talking about the golf course we were admiring from the clubhouse porch.
He described Erin Hills as a prairie links, an inland links style course built in harmony with the environment, combining all the natural elements provided by the terrain, an outstanding work made by architects Hurdzan, Fry and Whitter.
The same philosophy he uses to design and build his own courses, he told me. Honoring and taking advantage of every aspect of the land, trying to discover its secrets and reveal them.
Designing a golf courses, he said, his like creating a masterpiece able to convey emotions to first time players and to those who play it for the hundredth time.
Like Michelangelo could already vision on his mind the sculpture he was about to create by simply looking at that piece of marble, or Leonardo already knew how to fill that empty canvas, Mr. Bobby Jones, by just looking at the area, the terrain, the surroundings, the natural elements that land provides, can see on his mind the golf course, the layout of the holes, how his creation will be.
With no doubt a rare virtue that contributed to the growth of unique golf courses around the globe signed by RTJ2.

I asked him about Chambers Bay, one of his latest creations and venue of the 2015 U.S. Open. I could see joy on his eyes. He is very proud of the work he has done in the Seattle area. A traditional Scottish links style course born along the shores of the Puget Sound built on the site of a former sand and gravel mine. An absolute must play I hope to add soon to my Skygolf Courses.

Of course I had to ask him about Italy and the golf courses he designed there.
We spent long time on the argument.
I found him being a great expert and admirer of my home country. He loves italian culture, cuisine, wine and he had the chance to spend long period of time in Italy to follow his works.
Antognolla Golf Course was his first creation. Located near Perugia in Umbria, the very heart of Italy, he built this charming golf course in 1997. An inland links style course dominated by a medieval castle.
Terre dei Consoli, his last work, is an 18 hole championship course still under construction, just a few miles north of Rome. Only the front nine are open to play but it is already considered a new jewel in the area.
Last but not least La Bagnaia Golf Resort, located near the town of Siena, Tuscany. This was actually is second italian job.
Completed a couple of years ago, this inland links according to Mr. Jones's is one of his top courses, one of his masterpieces, a gem that soon became a pride for him and his designing company (A/N A complete review of La Bagnania is coming soon on Skygolfblog).

Golf is now growing in Italy thanks to the participation on building new courses of renowned golf architects like Mr. Robert Trent Jones Jr.

Before leaving I asked him what his favorite, No. 1, best golf course in the world is.
Pine Valley he answered without hesitation. It is the perfect golf course, he said, where all the elements and feelings are connected.

Thank You Mr. Jones, it has been a privilege meeting you.
An unforgettable day where I understood once more why we love Golf.

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