So you want to play a Rees Jones golf course?

By Brandon TuckerAugust 15, 2011, 6:39 pm

Rory McIlroy left battered, Tiger Woods left early and Phil Mickelson left criticizing. Rees Jones, the 'doctor' who gave the PGA Championship's Atlanta Athletic Club its bite has a reputation all his own. 

Did the PGA Championship's bogey trains, watery kerplunks and more sand play than kindergarten recess leave you thirsting to play a Rees Jones design? 

Every architect with a long career has their niche. For Jones, it's keeping elder golf courses relevant to 21st century tournament golf. He helped make Atlantic Athletic Club major-worthy by adding back tees and loads of bunkers that the big hitters couldn't hit past. 

Rees Jones' design company portfolio boasts 7 U.S. Opens, 7 PGA Championships, 4 Ryder Cups, 2 Walker Cups and a Presidents Cup. 

It's by far the most championship influence of any modern name. You could argue Pete Dye builds courses just as penal. But while Dye designs are oft used by the PGA and PGA Tour, including next year's PGA host, the Ocean Course on Kiawah Island, he has virtually nothing to do with the U.S. Open. (at least the men's side, Blackwolf Run hosts the women's U.S. Open). 

For Jones, most of these credits were enhancements to existing designs. In fact, Jones cites Pinehurst No. 2, a U.S. Open and Ryder Cup host as one of his projects. Bill Coore & Ben Crenshaw, the team who helped transform the course last year, may scoff at that notion. But Jones added back tee boxes to selected holes years ago. 

A lot of Jones' tournament courses are private clubs, but there are a few you can play: Torrey Pines South is a San Diego muni that is expensive for non-residents, but probably his most scenic, 'destination' credit. Its coastal beauty, along with the high-profile Tiger-Rocco U.S. Open from 2008 gives it a bit more sexiness than Bradley-Dufner duel in southern humidity. 

Also, Jones built the Redstone Tournament course from scratch. Host of the Shell Houston Open, the course is known on Tour as the warm-up to Augusta National with some of the year's finest playing conditions. 

Or, you can seek out a round at Bethpage Black in New York City, where Jones helped restore the A.W. Tillinghast design to a test fit for the modern game. 

But beyond where the pros play, there are some notable Rees Jones designs in the world of resort golf travel. Rio Secco Golf Club in Las Vegas is one of the area's better upscale, desert golf experiences. In northern Michigan, Black Lake Golf Club is an easy pick for the destination's Top 10. He's done quite a bit in North and South Carolina, with designs on Hilton Head Island (Oyster Reef Golf Club is the only public course) and around Myrtle Beach (Sea Trail and Arcadian Shores). On the Outer Banks, you can tee it up on The Currituck Club. Inland, while I'd have a hard time calling Pinehurst No. 2 a Rees Jones design, he designed Pinehurst No. 7 start-to-finish. 

Jones' philosophy earns a lot of repeat business from the PGA Tour, USGA and PGA. But for resorts and Top 100 golf panels, they tend to steer more towards Jack Nicklaus, Pete Dye, Tom Fazio and relative newcomers like Coore-Crenshaw and Tom Doak. Even Rees' brother, Robert Trent Jones Jr., has curried favor with resorts all over the world with a more player-friendly philosophy. In the profile we published last week on RTJ Jr. by Clive Agran, Rees' brother even called him 'sadistic.' 

But a glimpse at Jones' roster of 'current projects' reveals he's plenty in demand. His firm has work at the moment both domestically and abroad, and the FedEx Cup will culminate at one of his projects at an original Donald Ross design, East Lake Golf Club.

Whether or not you book a tee time on a Rees Jones course in the future, we'll continue to see and hear a lot about him in the coming years' most important events. 

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What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

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Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

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Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

The Ryder Cup topped his list.

Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

“Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”

McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

“The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

More bulletin board material, too.

Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

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Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

“I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.