Rees Jones: Legendary Golf Course Design with a Sense of Tradition
Rees Jones has spent his entire life around the game of golf. As the son of Robert Trent Jones Sr., Rees grew up on some of the most celebrated golf courses in America. He studied history at Yale and architecture at Harvard before joining his father’s company, Robert Trent Jones Incorporated, in 1964. After ten years as a principal in his father’s firm, Rees broke from the family company and formed Rees Jones, Inc. in 1974.
At the heart of Jones’ design philosophy is a profound respect for the history and legacy of the game. Like the course at Briar’s Creek, Jones’ designs capture the spirit and tradition of skill-based golf while also embracing today’s aggressive style of play. This course is a perfect example of Jones’ commitment to environmentally-friendly designs, creating a golf course and homesites that all enjoy the spectacular setting without infringing on one another, and creating one of the most unique settings for homes in Charleston’s surrounding Lowcountry.
“As a golf course architect, you don’t find a piece of property quite like this very often in your lifetime,” explained Jones. “There are 900 acres here, which really gave us the flexibility to locate the golf holes in their most appropriate places. Then, we were able to layout wonderful homesites in the wooded areas and along these lagoons we created as part of the whole community. So it’s a win-win situation for both the real estate and the golf.”
The quiet, natural setting of this Audubon Silver Sanctuary offers long stretches of preserved wetlands and forest, frequently inhabited by endangered birds and wildlife. Dramatic shots across marshes and around 300-year-old Grand Oaks reward the disciplined golfer who knows how to place his shot. And six sets of tees offer plenty of options and possibilities for golfers of any level, perfect for mixed groups, young players, husbands and wives.
“Briar’s Creek was really created to be a private golf retreat,” explained Jones. “A place where people could come from across the country, from anywhere in the world and enjoy a wonderful golf experience. It’s a wonderful piece of property with vegetation, wetlands, the Kiawah River, the marsh; you really could not have found a better piece of property to create a golf course on.” And unlike the incredible growth in popularity of Kiawah Island real estate, neighboring Johns Island is largely unpopulated, offering space for multi-acre estate homesites and plenty of quiet open space.
In total, Jones has designed more than 110 new courses and redesigned or “restored” 70 more. Among them are some of the most celebrated names in golf: Torrey Pines, Bethpage, Bellerive, The Country Club, East Lake Golf Club, The Breakers and Pinehurst—all have the discerning eye of Rees Jones to thank.
Counting his original designs as well as redesigns, Rees Jones has 7 courses in Golf Digest’s “America’s 100 Greatest Courses,” with countless other awards under his belt. Our course was named the “Best New Private Course of 2002″ and has been ranked among the Top 100 courses by both Golf Digest and Golf Magazine.
To date, his courses have hosted 12 majors, and so many U.S. Open Championships that he’s been nicknamed the “Open Doctor.” His courses have served as the site of 7 U.S. Opens, with 3 more scheduled through 2014. In addition, Rees Jones’ designs and restorations have been selected for hundreds of other tournaments, including the Walker Cup, the Presidents Cup, 4 Ryder Cups and more than a dozen PGA Championships.
But fortunately for us, it’s not all about big-time championship golf. Rees Jones also enjoys the relaxing, quiet retreat of old-fashioned golfing. He’s been described by many as just a “regular guy,” which is probably why he’s such a perfect fit for Briar’s Creek.
“When I come back to Briar’s Creek, I am still awed by the place because it’s such a spectacular setting,” said Jones. “Just looking across the Kiawah River and over to Kiawah Island. I am just so blessed to have had the opportunity to design this golf course.”
Sometimes, it’s not about the big flashy courses and TV cameras. Sometimes it’s just about spending time on the course with friends, family or all by yourself.