The son of the famous golf course architect Robert Trent Jones, Rees Jones was born in Montclair, New Jersey, in 1941. He graduated from Yale College in 1963, spent a year studying landscape architecture at Harvard's School of Design, and then went to work for his father. By 1974, he felt ready to pursue his own ideas about golf course architecture and started a design firm, Rees Jones, Inc., in his hometown of Montclair.
During his career, Jones has been involved in the design or redesign of over 100 golf courses. His new designs include such highly acclaimed courses as the Nantucket Golf Club in Massachusetts, Haig Point in South Carolina, Pinehurst No. 7 in North Carolina, the Atlantic Golf Club in Bridgehampton, Long Island and Ocean Forest on Sea Island, Georgia.
His renovated courses include such famous names as:
"My style emphasizes definition. I work hard at giving the golfer a concept as he stands over the ball. I want him to see the intended target and be able to visualize the shot."
- Rees Jones
• Hazeltine National, Minnesota
-1991 U.S. Open, 2002 PGA Championship
• The Country Club, Brookline, Massachusetts
-1988 U.S. Open, 1999 Ryder Cup
• The Congressional Country Club Blue Course, Maryland
-1997 U.S. Open
• Pinehurst No. 2, North Carolina - 1999 U.S. Open
• Baltusrol, New Jersey
-1993 U.S. Open, 2000 U.S. Amateur
• The Black Course at Bethpage State Park, Long Island
-2002 U.S. Open
Jones has renovated so many U.S. Open courses that he has earned the nickname the "Open Doctor."
Jones has received numerous awards for his work. Golf World magazine named him Architect of the Year in 1995, and Golf Digest consistently includes him on its list of the five top golf course architects. Golf Digest named Baker Hill Golf Club as one of the ten "Best New Private Golf Courses" in the United States for 2003. Previously, Briar's Creek, a Rees Jones course in Johns Island, South Carolina, was named as the "Best New Private Course" of 2002 by Golf Digest. In the past decade, Jones has had two other courses win Golf Digest's "Best New Private Course" award: the Nantucket Golf Club in Nantucket, Massachusetts (1998) and the Atlantic Golf Club in Bridgehampton, New York (1992). Four of his courses have made the runner-up list. In addition, the Sandpines Golf Club, a Rees Jones course in Florence, Oregon, won Golf Digest's "Best New Public Course" rating in 1993.
Jones strives to design courses that are "challenging, fair and aesthetically pleasing." He favors strategic rather than "target" golf courses and believes it's important to make use of the natural characteristics of a site. He describes his style as follows:
"My style emphasizes definition. I work hard at giving the golfer a concept as he stands over the ball. I want him to see the intended target and be able to visualize the shot. To achieve this, I elevate tees when possible; grade fairways; add bunkers, pockets and berms or mounds; and carefully craft greens. We use natural-appearing features to help contain slightly errant shots and provide a variety of approach shots. Our philosophy is to penalize a missed shot in keeping with the degree it is missed. Our courses are designed with so many subtleties that a new experience can be encountered on every round. We often emphasize position and risks off the tee to improve the approach to the green. I make each hole more distinctive by using a mix of design elements that I call a "multi-theme" approach. I believe in graceful lines and greens that allow for multiple options for cup locations. A properly contoured and fortified green, more than any other feature, is the place where par is preserved as a standard of excellence."
Jones has earned a reputation as an architect who gives special attention to environmental issues. His book Golf Course Developments (co-authored with Guy Rando) was written for developers and stresses the importance of building courses in a way that protects the environment. Although the book was written over twenty years ago, it is still considered the best work on this subject. In addition, Jones is the only golf course architect who is a member of the USGA's Environmental and Turfgrass Research Committee. He has served on this committee since 1990.