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Rees Jones

Rees Jones, Inc.
Montclair , NJ

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Philosophy of Design

At Rees Jones, Inc., we work to create courses that are fair, challenging, continually interesting to play, and visually exciting. We get a feel for the land, we listen to the client, and we build a course that we believe has integrity and lasting value.

I think golfers enjoy being reasonably challenged. Golf holes that unfold with a variety of shot options requiring intelligent management of the game – choosing the right club and the right strategy -- make for a more interesting round. When making decisions about strategy, golfers must choose the degree of risk they are willing to take. A golfer can either use caution, playing it safe and avoiding hazards, or may choose to “go for it” and flirt with trouble. We design this risk/reward option throughout our courses.

We work at designing courses that are fair. I do not believe that playability should be sacrificed to showy features that penalize a shot that is only slightly errant. Our bunkers are strategic features, carefully placed. We design multiple tees – sometimes as many as five or six - in order to accommodate golfers of differing skills, from beginners to PGA professionals. When we design courses for private clubs or resorts or public facilities, the goals may be different but the principle is the same: it has to be playable. No one enjoys getting beaten up by the course in a round of golf.

Our courses are classic, a blend of traditional design and innovative style. I admire the great old Scottish courses. I was awestruck from the first time I played St. Andrews as a teenager. I am also influenced by the legendary masters of American design, especially those whose courses I have worked to restore. My style is based in this rich tradition. I stood the classic ground two decades ago when penal course designs abounded and contrived features were the order of the day. At the 1988 U.S. Open, the restoration of The Country Club in Brookline proved that a course did not have to have “bells and whistles” to be a champion. I am a purist who adheres to the fundamentals of good design. We do aim to provide variety and interest to the layouts we design. But innovation for the sake of innovation alone is not our style. We put our effort, for instance, into creating a strategic bunker complex to achieve a certain shot value rather than into non-essential features that are “window dressing”.

Primarily, the style of a course is dictated by the contours of the land. The importance of the visual impact of a golf hole from the tee should never be underestimated. Natural elements are embellished and created elements are made to look natural. Every design is customized to enhance what nature offers, always with a sensitivity to environmental issues.