June 20 – Happy Birthday Robert Trent Jones

9174353-smallIt sits on a 196 acre plot of land that forms part of the border between the city and town that share a common name. Most of the area used to be owned by the family of former Amsterdam Mayor John Carmichael and was known as Carmichael Heights. During the depths of the Great Depression, President Franklin Roosevelt’s Works Progress Administration was put in place to fund public works projects that would benefit and expand the infrastructures of our country and its state’s counties and cities and more importantly, give the unemployed jobs. In 1934, then Amsterdam mayor Art Carter is credited with getting it put on the list of approved WPA projects but it was today’s Amsterdam Birthday Celebrant who took the money, men and materials provided and turned Carmichael Heights into a masterpiece.

Robert Trent Jones was born in England on June 20, 1908. He came to this country at the age of five and his family settled in East Rochester. He fell in love with the game of golf at a very young age and became very skilled at the sport. Health problems would prevent him from competing at the professional level but would not stop him from becoming a legend of the game anyway. When he was ready for college, he went to Cornell University and convinced officials there to let him devise his own curriculum for golf course architecture. Because golf courses were WPA fundable, he couldn’t have picked a better time to become a course designer.

Jones formed a partnership with a golf architect from Canada named Stanley Thompson and after designing several Canadian courses they opened an office in New York City. It was Mayor Carter who called them up and asked them to design Amsterdam Municipal and during the years 1935-38, Robert Trent Jones became a frequent visitor to the Rug City and a regular guest at the Barnes Hotel.

After just three weeks on the job, Jones told Recorder Sports Editor Jack Minnoch that the site chosen for the Amsterdam course was “spectacular” and that the crew of workers placed at his disposal “the best” he’d yet worked with, which was very impressive praise considering by that point the firm of Thompson and Jones had already designed 100 golf courses. Jones’ goal with Muni was to create a paradise for both nature and golf and though that sounds a bit superfluous, this author can attest to the fact that he came awfully darn close!…

(June 20 is also the birthday of one of Arthur Carter’s successors as Mayor of Amsterdam.)

My complete birthday post for Robert Trent Jones will appear in the new second edition of A Year’s Worth of Amsterdam, NY Birthdays, which will be available before the 2016 Holiday season. On June 30, 2016, I will also once again begin distributing an Amsterdam, NY Birthday Blog Monthly Newsletter that will include the full birthday posts for three of the twenty-to-thirty  people whose birthdays I will recognize each month. Each newsletter will also include an Amsterdam Birthday Quiz that will test your knowledge and memory of people and events in your hometown.

The monthly newsletter is free. If you’d like to receive it, just make sure your name and e-mail address are included on this list. If you received the first wave of Amsterdam Birthday Blog newsletters sent during the Fall of 2015, your name is already on the list. But if you’re not sure, go ahead and sign up again because our software will eliminate any duplicate e-mail addresses.

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