Best Robert Trent Jones, Sr. Courses You Can Play

By Ryan Watson

Robert Trent Jones, Sr. is widely regarded as one of golf's most influential course designers. Over his lifetime, Jones built more than 500 courses across the world, leading to the quip that "the sun never sets on a Robert Trent Jones course." Jones' courses have hosted major championships and continue to host PGA Tour and European Tour events, and he is one of a small number of course architects to be included in the World Golf Hall of Fame. Today, his children Robert Trent Jones, Jr. and Rees Jones are well known for their design skills as well, building on the immense legacy of their father. The following are the best Robert Trent Jones, Sr. courses open to the public.

North Course at Silverado Resort

1600 Atlas Peak Rd, Napa, CA 94558

Located in California’s beautiful Napa Valley, the Silverado Resort boasts the Jones designed North Course. The course is well known as the host of the Safeway Open since 2014, and features a classic parkland style with undulating, narrow fairways and often raised greens. Trees are another obstacle that features on most holes here. The course provides one of the purest challenges of golf in California and is an easy addition to Robert Trent Jones’ best courses.

Royal Ka'anapali

2290 Kaanapali Parkway, Lahaina, Maui, HI 96761

Royal Ka’anpali has long been recognized as one of Hawaii’s best courses. Opened in 1962, Jones looked to use the sloping terrain to create a natural feeling. The course is short for a champions caliber course at only 6,700 yards though it’s routing and exceptionally firm greens provide plenty of challenge. The course begins with some oceanside holes before ascending up to the foothills of West Maui Mountain. The course finishes with a well guarded par-4 that Arnold Palmer considered one of golf’s best finishing holes.

Dunes Golf & Beach Club

9000 N Ocean Blvd, Myrtle Beach, SC 29572

Jones built the Dunes Golf & Beach Club course back in 1948, though despite its name this is not a beach front course but does provide ocean views. Instead of links golf, the course provides variety with many tree lined holes as well as some wetlands with Lake Singleton coming into play prominently at times. Golfers should expect numerous high risk/reward option on most holes. Many point to Jones’ work on the par-3s as the standout holes, with their interesting obstacles and routings providing big challenges on short holes.

Valderrama Golf Club

Av. los Cortijos, s/n, 11310 Sotogrande, Cádiz, Spain

Valderrama Golf Club has earned the nickname the “Augusta of Europe” and remains one of Spain’s best courses. Jones designed the course in 1974, before redesigning the course again in 1984 after the original course was acquired by Spanish billionaire Jaime Ortiz-Patino. This new redesigned course came to the attention of Americans when it became the first mainland European course to host a Ryder Cup in 1997, and later as host of the WGC-American Express Championship in 1999 and 2000.

East Course at TPC Dorado Beach

500 Suite 1, Plantation Dr, Dorado, 00646, Puerto Rico

TPC Dorado Beach in Dorado, Puerto Rico is home to another Jones’ masterpiece in the East Course. The course is described as a classic seaside course, with many holes playing alongside the shoreline. The course was built in 1958 and was one of the first truly championship courses in the Caribbean. The course was updated to a modern length in 2011 by Robert Trent Jones, Jr. who stayed true to his father’s original vision. Golfers should expect beautiful, challenging golf with numerous high risk/reward holes.

Robert Trent Jones Course at Palmetto Dunes Oceanfront Resort

7 Trent Jones Ln, Hilton Head Island, SC 29928

Heading back to South Carolina, Palmetto Dunes Oceanfront Resort boasts the oldest course on the golfing destination of Hilton Head Island. The Robert Trent Jones Course plays through extensive wetlands and uses Jones’ usual mix of inventive routing and high risk/reward to create a memorable course. Golfers will also enjoy views of the Atlantic Ocean that are offered throughout much of the course, though they may be cursing the ocean breezes that can change swiftly and with little warning.

The Heather at Boyne Highland Resort

5620 Highland Dr, Harbor Springs, MI 49740

Boyne Highland Resort in Harbor Springs, MI is best known for the Heather, named the 2018 Golf Course of the year by the Michigan Golf Course Association. The course is not the hardest Jones course but it is a beautiful example of what makes him such a well-respected designer. Set near the ski slopes that daught the surrounding highlands, the course is a beautiful blend of parkland and mountain golf. Golfers should expect to use every club in their bag and to rely more on strategy and accuracy than brute strength to see them past the Heather.

Mauna Kea Golf Course

62-100 Mauna Kea Beach Dr, Waimea, HI 96743

One of Jones’ best known works, Mauna Kea Golf Course in Waimea, Hawaii shows the architect at home with the warm ocean breeze. The course was the first on Hawaii’s Big Island and helped turn the island into a golfer’s paradise. The design quickly made a big splash, as it challenged even the best professionals. However, the beautiful scenery kept people coming back to this gem, and a renovation in 2008 from son Rees did nothing to change the difficulty as he lengthened the course. Luckily, multiple tee boxes exist and this course is really a must-play for any golfer.

Spyglass Hill Golf Course

3206 Stevenson Dr, Pebble Beach, CA 93953

Spyglass Hill Golf Course is situated on the sliver of golf paradise known as Pebble Beach, California. The course has played on the PGA Tour during the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am since 1967, and is generally considered the most difficult of the Pebble Beach courses. The course differs from other courses on the peninsula by playing primarily through forests, though 5 holes are still on the oceanfront. Many have compared the course to both Augusta and Pine Valley and the comparisons are apt; golfers should expect anything but a stroll in the park with this course.

About the Author

Ryan Watson is a freelance sportswriter and history professor. He has been an avid fan of golf since his father signed him up for golf camp as a young child. Ryan enjoys following the professional game and learning about new equipment and gadgets.