The Green Pioneer: Robert Trent Jones Jr., 70, has been spreading the gospel of (green) golf around the world for five decades

October 31, 2009

“Horace Greely said,
‘Go west, young man.’ I went west and
kept going, spreading the gospel of golf. I
was a pioneer, designing courses in Japan
in the ’60s and Thailand in ’72. Also in the
Philippines, China, Russia — I drank a lot
of vodka.

“In Indonesia, they had kerosene
lamps from the airport into town. There was
no electricity. We innovated in two ways:
By making the game more environmentally
friendly, we helped it spread globally. I listen
to the land, the way the Native Americans
do. The land reveals its secret only to those
who listen to its secrets. I literally feel it
through the soles of my feet. That’s how we
restored Chambers Bay [in Washington
State, site of the 2015 U.S. Open]. It was a
sanded gravel pit for 100 years, a beautiful
mess. Imagine Michelangelo walking into a
quarry, but instead of dust and stone, he saw
David and the Pieta. We walked in and saw a
great links course.

“We use only ‘green’ water
and drought-resistant fescue grasses, and the
rough is irrigated by Mother Nature. We have
to conserve water. H.L. Mencken said, ‘The
west begins where the rainfall ends.’ I am a
servant of the land, not my client. Because if
I’m serving the land, I am serving my client.”