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Robert Trent Jones Jr on SentryWorld's Redesign

Golf Course Architect Shares His Thoughts On His Most Recent Project

By Brian Weis


For the 2013 golf season, SentryWorld closed the golf course for major renovations. Recently, I had the chance to sit down with legendary golf architect, Robert Trent Jones, Jr, and ask him about the course and the changes.

Brian Weis, GolfWisconsin.com: This past year, SentryWorld underwent a massive redesign of the course. Why did they feel it was necessary or what was the driving force behind the changes?

Robert Trent Jones, Jr: Well you know the interesting thing about this great game of ours. It is a 500 year old sport and it's a living natural course, just like a cross country running course. That's unique in sports. So it isn't fixed, and as a consequence there is lots of debate about how the course plays in different eras. Most golf courses are works in progress. Augusta National has been radically changed over a long time. My father added the ponds in the back nine, and some length. SentryWorld has good bones. It's a great core golf course. It was the first real resort and championship course in Wisconsin built in the early 1980's, and there were a couple of things we wished we had done then. We learned by observing the play, like now use the property more fully around the lakes, and also the game has changed. The trees grew. We wanted to open it up, wanted to see the North woods, not play out of them all the time. So when they decided they had to re-do the irrigation system, which is a major investment, then we said lets take a look at the whole course. Now you are talking about redoing sand bunkering, redoing the woods, why not in effect, reconfigure the course, follow the rooting that we kind of wanted to have back in the 1980's. We decided to update everything. So we reduced a lot of the bunkering, widened the fairways, lengthened and shortened the course. It's really a new golf course.

BW: Has the flower hole been touched?

RTJ: If I touched the flower hole, John Jonas would probably send a lightening bolt from Heaven and blow me up. No, the flower hole has not been touched. Its an iconic hole. The story of the flower hole is that it was a short par 3, John Jonas liked drama, he liked the rocks and the creeks, he liked strong bunkering and the course is on a relatively walkable flat site, so its a fun course to play, but he wanted some drama. I had just come back from France. I had seen some flowers behind an 18th hole. Jonas is a French name. I said well that's a pretty interesting idea, why don't you put a few flowers behind the green and mounds to decorate it. Oh Bobby draw me a pond, I'm thinking about a pond. So I drew him a pond. When I came back 6 weeks later, the pond was filled with flowers. So he took the idea of the French flower hole, French flower decoration, and turned it into a flower hazard, and thus invented the first uniquely flower hole that I know about in the world.

BW: You have built or redesigned more than 250 golf courses. Would you put the flower hole in the top 100 of the holes you've developed or the top 18.

RTJ: You know, thats really up for you to estimate. It's certainly iconic, its an attention getter, lot of controversy, not controversy so much but dialogue and a lot of fun. So I think if it catches your imagination, catches your aesthetic sensibilities and your talking about it, that is an attraction and that's what we want, we want people to be attracted to this game, not punished by it, as some of the harder courses in recent years have been. So the answer to your question, is it one of my most favorite holes, clearly its in the top 100, maybe top 25.

BW: So when the book comes out, with RTJ's favorite 36 holes, it will be in the conversation.

RTJ: The flower hole will be in that book. (chuckle)

BW: What is your favorite hole after the redesign at SentryWorld?

RTJ: Well there are several, and you know it's not one hole that makes a golf course any more then one play that makes a football game. It might be an important play, in a tight game, but you've got to play 60 minuets of football and you've got to play 18 holes of golf.

So, its the flow of line, its the character of wanting to play on, to keep playing. The beauty of SentryWorld is its what we call a core golf course. By that we mean it has no housing around it. Your there to play golf, and your in a beautiful parkland setting. So you go from the first hole, which is a general beginning. Second hole, much stronger. Third hole is a new hole, par 3, as is number 12, those are really the two new holes. The rest of the holes were in the corridors before, but we've changed the angles.

So one of my favorites stretches is holes 10-11-12-13. It will be the new amen corner for Wisconsin golf, meaning that the long long par 5, which by the way follows the shorter, par 5 Nine, back to back par 5 is a little bit unusual, and then you've got a short par 4 which is possibly drivable, depending on how the tees are set up on the given day. Followed by the short par 3 over the water. The stretch is completed with hole 13 which used to be a sharp dogleg, has now been straightened out and you play across the water. So that run in there is gonna catch a lot of peoples attention, a lot of variety, scenic beauty and golfing challenge.


Revised: 03/07/2014 - Article Viewed 21,986 Times - View Golf Course Profile


About: Brian Weis


Brian Weis Brian Weis is the Publisher of GolfTrips.com, a network of golf travel and directory sites including GolfWisconsin.com, GolfMichigan.com, ArizonaGolfer.com, GolfAlabama.com, etc. Professionally, Brian is a member of the Golf Writers Association of America (GWAA), International Network of Golf (ING), Golf Travel Writers of America (GTWA), International Golf Travel Writers Association (IGTWA) and The Society of Hickory Golfers (SoHG). In 2016, Brian won The Shaheen Cup, an award given to a golf travel writer by his peers.

All of his life, Brian has been around the game of golf. As a youngster, Brian competed at all levels in junior and high school golf. Brian had a zero chance for a college golf scholarship, so he worked on the grounds crew at West Bend Country Club to pay for his University of Wisconsin education. In his adult years, his passion for the game collided with his entrepreneurial spirit and in 2004 launched GolfWisconsin.com. In 2007, the idea for a network of local golf directory sites formed and GolfTrips.com was born. Today, the network consists of a site in all 50 states supported by national sites like GolfTrips.com, GolfGuide.com and GolfPackages.com. It is an understatement to say, Brian is passionate about promoting golf and golf travel on a local, regional, national and international level.

On the golf course, Brian is known as a fierce weekend warrior that fluctuates between a 5-9 handicap. With a soft fade, known as "The Weis Slice", and booming 300+ drives, he can blast it out of bounds with the best of them.



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