Bobby Jones called up Robert Trent Jones, Sr. after World War II and asked Trent to design a golf course for the wealthy businessmen of Atlanta. “I told Bobby,” Trent related to me, “that because it was him, we had to have an outstanding course, suitable for tournament play, and because this was a country club for limited membership, men in their forties and fifties, we needed a course playable for the average game.”
In designing Peachtree, Trent Jones developed one of his architectural trademarks, a flexible course. He enlarged the tee area, lengthening them on some holes to 100 yards. This permitted an unlimited number of tee placements, making the hole short or long, depending on the challenge desired. Peachtree varies in length from 6,300 to 7,400 yards because of these flexible tees.
Jones then built large, undulating greens that had five or six definite pin positions, of which at least four were of such quality as to be ideal for tournament play. These pin positions represented the target area for the better golfer, whereas the whole green represented the target area for the average player.
Besides making every hole flexible in the size of its tees and greens, Jones also planned for the emotional and psychological aspects of each hole. “In the dune type of green mounding, the surface itself is given a receptivity that inspires confidence in the golfer as he plays to the green. This type of design also gives the hole a feeling of isolation from any adjacent holes since the construction of the mounds builds up a third dimension, blocking off part of the view around the green.”
Trent Jones believed that a great golf hole must touch one’s emotions. “It should offer a golfer,” he explained, “a shotmaking challenge of heroic demands coupled with a multiplicity of emotions: anticipation, excitement, suspense, and, eventually felicity or frustration. A great hole has beauty, but it should above all else have great playing values. To me, the two are inextricably linked.”
In the changing face of golf architecture, styles have evolved from the penal to the strategic and then the heroic. More than any other contemporary architect, Robert Trent Jones, Sr. perfected the heroic school of golf architecture and changed how the game of golf is played in America.