Robert Trent Jones, son of Mr. and Mrs. William Jones of East Avenue in East Rochester, was born in England in 1906. Moving to East Rochester in 1909 and graduating from East Rochester High School in 1924, Jones was a pretty fair basketball player in school and in the semi-pro basketball ranks with a strong O’Leary’s Restaurant team. His unusual middle name “Trent” was derived from the Trent River near his hometown in England. Jones left car shop town — East Rochester — to attend college at Cornell, where he met his future wife. Little did he know of his future in a lucrative career that wound him up becoming one of the world’s leading golf architects.
As a youngster, he caddied at the Country Club of Rochester where Walter Hagen was the pro. Among the people he caddied for was George Eastman, founder of the Eastman Kodak Co. He learned the basics at Kate Gleason’s course at the end of West Commercial Street called Genundewah and later Hillcrest. The course was the first course in the area that was opened to the public. Jones could play golf for free if he cut the grass. It was here he first learned about the construction of golf courses. The nine-hole course got plenty of play before its demise in 1931, mainly due to the Great Depression and only being nine holes. St. john Fisher College occupies that area now.
After two years at Cornell where he started a self-taught course in Architectural Design, concentrating in landscapes, Jones got his first break as the pro at the Sodus Heights Golf Course, overlooking Lake Ontario in Sodus Point. The first course he designed was the Midvale Country Club on Baird Road in Penfield. After moving to Montclair, New Jersey, in 1934 he designed close to 500 courses, played golf in the low 70s and considered the Peachtree Course in Atlanta as his greatest effort in designing. This course has the nickname of the “Par Busters Nightmare.” He also redesigned Oak Hill Country Club for the 1956 US Open and again in 1968 for the same tournament. In 1987 he was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame as the first living architect to receive that honor.
In the year 2000, after a long-life, Robert Trent Jones passed away at the age of 93 in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.
East Rochester has had the distinction of being mentioned in two issues of the famous weekly magazine Life. One of them featured Robert Trent Jones and the other Sam Urzetta on his 1950 win over Frank Stranahan for the U.S. Amateur Golf Championship. This is quite an honor for a little village of one mile square and a population of about 6,500 people.