World renowned golf course architect Rees Jones received the prestigious Don A. Rossi Award given by the Golf Course Builders Association of America (GCBAA) at the association’s opening reception Feb. 4, at the Golf Industry Show in Orlando, Fla.
Known as “The Open Doctor” for his many renovations of U.S. Open Championship courses, Jones has also played a key role in redesigning several other courses for major championships.
Upon accepting the award, Jones told a roomful of his peers that, among the many things he learned from Rossi, for whom the award was named, was how important it was for a builder and architect to trust one another and work in sync during a course project.
“The best golf courses are created when the architect and the construction team walk the grounds together,” Jones said. “I have been fortunate to have worked with some very fine members of (the GCBAA) during my career. In many ways, the construction teams are the unsung heroes of golf course architecture.
“So I accept this honor tonight with the acknowledgement that the builders I have worked with have contributed in no small measure to the success of my career.”
The Rossi award is given by the GCBAA to honor individuals who have made significant contributions to the game of golf and its growth and who have inspired others by example. It is named for Don A. Rossi, who served as executive director of the National Golf Foundation from 1970 to 1983, was instrumental in forming the National Golf Course Owners Association and served as executive director of the GCBAA from 1984 to 1990.
Throughout his career, Rees has helped remodel seven U.S. Open courses, seven PGA Championship courses, four Ryder Cup courses and one President’s Cup site to go along with multiple other well-known remodels. He designed or redesigned courses in China, Japan, Canada, Mexico, Spain, England and Africa while working on more than 170 courses including Bethpage State Park (the Black Course), Montauk Downs, the South Course at Torrey Pines and East Lake Golf Club — home of the PGA TOUR’s Tour Championship.
Jones, who earned a degree from Yale University and studied landscape architecture at Harvard University, began his career in golf course architecture in 1965 working under his father, the original “Open Doctor, RobertTrent Jones” for 10 years before opening his own firm in 1974, Rees Jones Inc. He still runs the company today. Jones has been recognized many times for his contributions to the game, most notably with the Old Tom Morris Award in 2004, given by the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America (GCSAA) and the Donald Ross Award, given by the American Society of Golf Course Architects (ASGCA).
“Rees has a unique opinion when it comes to building golf courses and believes courses don’t have to be long to be challenging or hard to be fun,” Apel said. “He was ahead of his time as this way of thinking has essentially become the mantra of the golf industry.”
Some of his notable work in the southeast is the Jones Course at LPGA in Daytona Beach, Ocala National, The Waldorf Astoria & Falcons Fire in Central Florida, Ocean Forest at Sea Island, Ga. and the Oconee Course at Reynold’s Plantation in Georgia. I recently spent the day with Rees at his latest work, The Country Club of Winter Haven along the shores of Lake Hamilton in Polk County, Florida, where he totally redesigned a worn out track into a beautifully manicured masterpiece. He took what the land allowed and complemented it with the best Bermuda fairways and greensand a new routing to make it both challenging and aesthetic.to learn more about him go to www.ReesJonesinc.com.
About the GCBAA and the GCBAA Foundation
The Golf Course Builders Association of America is a non-profit trade association of the world’s foremost golf course builders and leading suppliers to the golf course construction industry. It was founded in the early 1970s and its members represent all segments of the golf course industry. The GCBAA Foundation is the charitable arm of the GCBAA and a separate, 501(c)(3) organization. The GCBAA’s national executive office is located in Lincoln, Neb. For more information, visit www.gcbaa.org or call (402) 476-4444