A Difficult Par: Robert Trent Jones Sr. and the Making of Modern Golf

A Difficult Par: Robert Trent Jones Sr. and the Making of Modern GolfRobert Trent Jones was the most prolific and influential golf course architect of the twentieth century and became the archetypical modern golf course designer. Jones spread the gospel of golf by designing courses in forty-two US states and twenty-eight countries. Twenty U.S. Opens, America’s national championship, have been contested on Jones-designed courses.

New York Times bestselling biographer James R. Hansen, author of First Man: The Life of Neil A. Armstrong, recounts how an English immigrant boy arrived in upstate New York in 1912, just as golf was emerging as a popular pastime in America. Jones excelled as a golfer, earning admission to Cornell University, whose faculty consented to a curriculum tailored to teach him the knowledge needed to design golf courses. Cornell provided the springboard for an act of self-invention that propelled Jones from obscurity to worldwide fame.

Jones believed that every hole should be “a difficult par but an easy bogey.” As gifted as he was at golf design, Jones was equally skilled as a salesman, promoter, and entrepreneur. Golf Digest’s annual rankings of the 100 Greatest Golf Courses have regularly featured about fifty Jones designs, paving the path for his two sons, Robert Jr., and Rees, whose work would carry on their father’s tradition. Hansen examines Jones’s legacy in all its complexity and influence, including the fraternal rivalry of Jones’s distinguished sons.

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Praise for “A Difficult Par”

  • Robert Trent Jones was the most influential man in golf course design since Old Tom Morris. This biography by James Hansen is essential reading for all who love golf and golf courses. There is no book like it, answering far more questions about the leading personalities and practices of modern golf course design than any author has ever achieved.
    — Dr. Michael C. Hurdzan, Golf Architect and former president of the American Society of Golf Course Architects
  • An expansive study of Jones' life and work…authoritative and meticulously researched…for the course architecture aficionado, it is a revelatory dissertation.
    — WorldGolf.com
  • As a historian and simple lover of classic golf course architecture, I've been waiting a long time for a comprehensive biography of the man who shaped the landscape of the modern game. With A Difficult Par, James Hansen has done the game of golf a great service by delivering a beautifully written and defining examination of the complicated life and legacy of Robert Trent Jones, including the dynastic succession that continues to shape the game we know today. This wonderful book is an easy birdie and difficult to put down. A well-worn copy deserves to be on every true golf lover's bookshelf.
    — James Dodson, author of Final Rounds and Ben Hogan: An American Life

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