Robert Trent Jones, Jr. has had a long and quite successful career. No doubt when he commenced his career the long shadow of his famous father was present.
Jones, Jr. is likely known to many as the man responsible for designing the host site for the 2015 US Open at Chambers Bay. The Washington State course has received mixed reviews but there are other efforts which he has done that deserve a good bit more attention.
One of them is CordeValle which is located roughly 30 minutes south of San Jose.
The club has hosted big time professional events with the Women's Open being the most noted.
What makes CordeValle so interesting is that Jones worked superbly with the land. The holes blend in -- rather than stand apart. When you have 260 acres of land and no real interference with other distractions -- most notably housing -- you truly do have a situation that can be maxed out with golf the foremost objective.
CordeValle is routed exceptionally well. Jones takes you to all corners of the property and the balancing act between power and placement is quite rigorous.
The first two holes are there simply to get the muscles limbered. But, you will quickly notice and appreciate the growing intensity of the holes and the shotmaking prowess that's called upon.
At the long par-5 3rd you encounter the first of several split fairway situations. You must decide how much risk you're willing to take for the reward in pulling the bold play off.
The par-5 6th is another example and once again the key is realizing what you're capable in doing. The short par-4 8th invites the bold play but water lurks near the green. The split fairway 9th is one of CordeValle's best holes. Far too often when split fairways are included -- it's generally one side that works best. Not so here.
Jones also smartly includes "turning point" where the fairways will move in one direction or the other. There is nothing more blatantly bad than having fairways that only go in a "straight razor" look.
I also commend Jones in having long par-3's in the mix. Far too many modern architects have eschewed such holes and frankly that's an error in judgement. CordeValle has two good ones -- with the 7th and 12th holes respectively. Best of all, they are positioned in such a way that the wind direction on a given day will not be similar.
The final two holes cap the day in grand style. The long par-4 17th provides another split fairway option near the green. At the long par-5 18th you can finish the round with a possible birdie but not without demonstrating some serious golf acumen.
CordeValle is representative of modern design. For those enamored with the classical school -- which California certainly has but on a very limited basis -- a visit here may not be what you're expecting. However, far too many modern designs do not have the sophistication and interest you'll find at CordeValle.
The top tier of California courses contains some of the finest golf on the planet. But when you move down to the next tier there are a number of others courses that often do not receive much attention outside of the immediate area where they are located.
Should you head to the San Jose area it would be a smart decision to schedule a round at CordeValle because it's clearly one of the very best Jones, Jr. layouts I have played.
M. James Ward
Date: July 05, 2019