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."