Robert Trent Jones is easily the most prolific golf course designer to ply his trade around the globe since the end of the Second World War. Born in England in 1906, he moved to East Rochester, New York with his parents soon after and it was in his adopted country that he would spend a large part of the next 89 years of his life immersed in course architecture.
It was well into his retirement years in the late 1980s when Jones is said to have come across an 850-acre property on the shores of Lake Manassas, thirty miles west of Washington D.C. which he felt would be just the place to construct a championship course that would attract the great and the good of the golf world as members.
And so, the Robert Trent Jones Golf Club came into being, bearing all the trademark design traits of the old master – expansive fairways, plenty of water hazards, lots of flashed bunker complexes and large, contoured greens. Cynics might say, “seen one RTJ design, seen them all,” but that misses the point entirely – there is a place in the golfing world for courses constructed to a certain tried and tested formula that somehow finds favour with so many.
Certainly, the PGA Tour were pleased enough with the course after it first opened that it was chosen to host the inaugural Presidents Cup matches three years later in 1994. Such was the success that year, the USA versus International Team event was held a further three times in 1996, 2000 and 2005, with the American team winning every match.
An immaculate club which beholds the name of one of golf’s most influential architects over the past 60 years. Robert Trent Jones Golf Club would be my preferred venue for any major golf event coming to the nation’s capital region. Bunkers have been strategically added over the years to tighten up certain landing areas, but the most sensational factor is Lake Manassas.
The opening stretch offers a string of long par 4s which move in elevation and direction. The rough is generally long around the greens emphasizing the need for precision. As you progress towards the lake, the wind and the excitement multiplies. Standing on the 10th tee, you find yourself gazing down the “coastal” holes along the lake which whets the appetite for what is to come. Greens with shaved false-fronts, short and long par 4s are all on offer as you wind your way back to the magnificent clubhouse.