WILLIAMSBURG — Fifty years after the Gold Course at Golden Horseshoe Golf Club was built, it remains a well-loved course and a lesson in golf course architecture for the son of its creator.
“My father used to say the more rugged the land, the more spectacular the result,” said Rees Jones, son of Gold Course designer Robert Trent Jones, Sr., during a media conference Saturday at the Williamsburg Lodge. “That’s how he achieved the Golden Horseshoe.”
Rees Jones said the Gold Course is still regarded as one of the best courses in Virginia. According to a press release, the Gold Course was named in the “Top 100 You Can Play,” a list of publicly accessible courses published by Golf Magazine.
He said he spoke with members before the media conference and got the sense all of them love Golden Horseshoe.
It takes a great architect to contour a course to a piece of land, especially one as hilly and treed as the one on which the Gold Course sits, according to Rees Jones. He said shaping a golf course to the terrain is one major thing he learned from his father.
When asked what style of golf course or elements he hopes the his name evokes, he said he wants to be know as an architect who custom designs a course for the land on which it will be built.
Rees Jones said his father built a lot of flexibility into the nearly 7,000 yard course as well as some elements that were unique at the time of construction. He explained that while the 16th hole was not the first island green, it did catapult the idea to popularity.
“I think he did a good job,” he said. “And then I redid it.”
Rees Jones rebuilt the course in 1998, finishing what his father started, including fairway grading that was never completed and softening of the greens. Asked if he would make further changes today, he indicated he would only make minor adjustments to the turf and probably line the bunkers. The Green Course at Golden Horseshoe was designed by Rees Jones.
“Golden Horseshoe started the movement to make greater Williamsburg a golf destination,” he said.
Glen Byrnes, director of golf at Golden Horseshoe, said the Gold Course has been very important to visitors and to golf in Williamsburg. He said the course really put Williamsburg on the map in terms of golf. Rees Jones believes greater Williamsburg should more heavily promote the area as a golf destination.
Rees Jones said he thinks father may have had a crystal ball when he designed the Gold Course because it has stood the test of time. As it enters its fiftieth year, he’s confident it will last 50 more.
Robertson can be reached by phone at 757-345-2342.