Six of the best courses laid out by Robert Trent Jones II from Hoiana Shores to Hogs Head
Hogs Head
Hogs Head

Six of the best courses laid out by Robert Trent Jones II from Hoiana Shores to Hogs Head


Robert Trent Jones II had some legacy to live up to as a course designer thanks to his late father’s great layouts, but as a contemporary course designer he has few peers.

Having attended Yale and completed graduate studies at Stanford University, Jones joined his father’s course design company and by 1962 was vice-president in the company.

Jones has a fine and prolific body of work with many great courses contending for a spot among his six best layouts.

Hoiana Shores Golf Club

Hoiana Shores is inarguably one of the reasons why the profile of golf in Vietnam has soared in recent years with the courses attracting visitors from all over the world.

Jones and his crew highlighted the terrain’s naturalness by using “ribbon” tees that flow naturally into the fairway. The huge greens, where many of their contours flow into the dunes’ contours, are another example of how the terrain and course are blended together organically. This gives the greens a sense of naturalness which is likely to be novel to many golfers.

Costa Palmas Golf Club

Jines himself says that Costa Palmas—which sits along the East Cape of Los Cabos about 65 miles from Cabo San Lucas—is a “golf symphony composed of three movements and two transitions.”

The musical analogy speaks to the layout’s rhythmic flow, harmonious melding with nature, dramatic crescendo, and ability to charm and entertain golfers of all skill levels. This 18-hole layout is part of a 1,000-acre resort community featuring stunning views and a fantastic practice facility.

Hogs Head Golf Club

The task of creating a new course in golf-rich Ireland was a challenge that Jones and his team relished as they went all out with Hogs Head.

Moving through various terrains, including cliff side holes that overlook the Ballinskelligs Bay, Hogs Head begins and ends along a majestic river, while the middle features a long stretch along 100-foot-tall coastal bluffs that take the breath away. There are five par-threes, varying in length and strategy and bringing alternately the river, the cliffs, and the sea into play. The weather, which can change in an instant, demands constant attention if one is to choose the right club and strike the proper shot.

Termas de Rio Hondo Golf Club

Jones’ first design in Argentina Termas de Rio Hondo Golf Club is another example of the master architect’s philosophy of fitting the course to the surroundings.

Those who are fortunate (or wise) enough to visit Termas de Rio Hondo will discover a fascinating blend of wet and dry habitats. While the course runs through parched and sun-drenched terrain, it also plays along the Rio Dulce (“Sweet River”) and incorporates a vast tract of marshes and wetlands. To thrive in this diverse environment, the course is planted throughout with Paspalum grass, which takes advantage of both the saline soil and the region’s subtropical climate. Year-round summer-like weather also means year-round golf.

The Links at Spanish Bay

The 6,820-yard Links at Spanish Bay is located two miles south of Monterey along the rocky California coastline (17-mile trip), not far from its famed sister, the Pebble Beach Golf Links. Jones wedged this contemporary links course between the beach and the historic Seventeen Mile Drive, with help from Tom Watson and Sandy Tatum.

Even though it lacks Pebble Beach’s legendary legacy, The Links at Spanish Bay gives as much or more golfing delight as its elder sister. The course integrates traditional links-style and planning with cutting-edge design topics. Above all, the designers had to overcome the technological barrier of generating realistic-looking dunes out of hundreds of yards of imported sand. In addition, the design had to accommodate and safeguard an endangered plants.

ThunderHawk Golf Club

ThunderHawk Golf Club in Beach Park, Illinois, joined Prairie Landing (in West Chicago) and Crystal Tree (in Orland Park) as the final member of an exceptional trio of Jones-designed golf courses in the greater Chicago area in the spring of 1999.

ThunderHawk Golf Club is located on 243 acres of former farmland that is filled with residual woodlands and oak and hickory trees. Joners’ plans included for the planting of over 1,000 trees on a total of 17 acres, in addition to the development of 15 acres of wetlands on previously drained farmland. This gorgeous golf course also features extensive practice facilities, and the total plan dedicates 57 acres to native grassland, which supports switchgrass, Indian grass and big bluestem. Wildlife ranging from butterflies to diverse birdlife flourish in these restored environments.