Robert Trent Jones' Legacy Comes to Cornell University Library

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Robert Trent Jones’ Legacy Comes to Cornell University Library
Library Receives World-Class Archive of Preeminent Golf Course Designer

ITHACA, N.Y. (Nov. 16, 2010) – The extensive archive of Robert Trent Jones, arguably the world’s most famous golf course architect, has found a home at Cornell University Library.

“No one has altered the landscape of golf — literally altered it — like the Jones family,” said Jones biographer James Hansen. “Cornell University gave Jones the education he needed to become a golf course designer, and he loved Cornell for the rest of his life. There was never any question but that Jones wanted Cornell to be the one place above all where his legacy would be remembered and nourished.”

The archive covers the entire span of Jones’ 70-year career, including thousands of hand-drawn plans, sketches and blueprints, as well as artifacts and personal correspondence from some of golf’s most famous figures like Arnold Palmer, Byron Nelson and Sam Snead. The collection is a gift from Jones’ two sons, Robert Trent Jr. and Rees, who are also accomplished golf course architects.

“Through these materials, scholars will be able to reconstruct the way Jones worked and thought,” said University Archivist Elaine Engst. “One of the most interesting aspects of golf course design is that it’s not freeform landscape; Jones had to follow some of the same rules as a landscape architect, and the way these materials tell the story of his creativity is just amazing.”

The collection reveals the tremendous geographic diversity of his designs, and his 325 courses spanning multiple continents. Jones left his mark on golf courses in Morocco, Belgium, Fiji and Japan, among over two dozen other countries and 45 of the United States.

Jones came to Cornell in 1928 to study in the College of Agriculture, designing his own course of study. About 10 years later, the architect designed the university’s golf course. What are now the back nine holes were finished in the 1940s; he constructed what are now the front nine holes to complete the course in 1954.

“The Finger Lakes region remained his starting point and… shaped his designs for decades,” Hansen said. “Trent Jones came away from the Finger Lakes with a certain aesthetic in his mind. He had a sense for what was beautiful and pleasing to the eye and how that translated to a golf course.”

Jones died in June 2000, and Cornell received his collection in April 2009. Although it is not yet available for research or public use, the Library is making efforts to raise funds to support the processing, organization and preservation necessary to make the collection accessible.

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The extensive archive of Robert Trent Jones, arguably the world’s most famous golf course architect, finds a home