Loving the land
GYPSUM – When Robert Trent Jones, Jr. arrived at the old Albertson Ranch, he had few ideas in mind for the new golf course he would design there. That’s not unusual for the world-famous course architect. When he first sees a site, he’s not thinking about doglegs, bunkers or elevated tees. “The first thing you do is survey the land, and absorb it,” said Jones, who was in Gypsum for a groundbreaking at the site of Brightwater Club’s new course. “You listen to the land, and open yourself to it. You embrace the land.”Then, said Jones, at about four in the morning, the ideas start popping into his head. The next step: Start moving earth.”The soil is great here. And that’s everything,” said Jones, who has designed more than 200 golf courses all over the world. “You get great drama here in the mountains. Colorado has a special appeal to me.”
Jones’ partner in golf-course construction for the last 25 years is Ed Taano. He travels everywhere with Jones. When it comes time to start moving the mountains of dirt involved in building a new golf course, Taano and his crew are the ones that get it done.”When we arrive and everything is flat and untouched, it’s hard to visualize what the course will look like,” said Taano. “I can start seeing things when we start moving the dirt around.”With an army of bulldozers parked off of Valley Road, and red dirt turned up all over the former ranch land, the dirt-moving process had clearly begun. “Ed and his crew are my inspiration,” said Jones. “They make me look good.”‘Love the course’
The course lay-out looks to be another Trent Jones, Jr. masterpiece. Nine holes are on the flatter meadows west of Valley Road; the nine holes east of Valley Road lie in a more mountainous, wooded terrain.”We are trying to create a course to match the beauty of Colorado,” said Jones. But what kind of test of golf will it be? Those are things that work themselves out, said Jones. In fact, he claimed that he never goes out with the intention of making one hole harder than another.”There are so many issues you are dealing with at first, like drainage, and shot angles, wind and hazards,” said Jones. “We want to design a course that will yield to good thinking and good play.”Jones described himself as a golfer first, then a course architect. He is continuing the work of his father, Robert Trent Jones, Sr., who is his biggest inspiration.
Peering out across the site of his newest project, Jones looked wistful. Then he said something that summed up his approach to both golf-course design, and the game of golf.”You must the love the course, and she will love you back.”This story first appeared in the Eagle Valley Enterprise.Vail, Colorado