Jones creates a new look for the Tuxedo Club in New York

Rees Jones has completed a renovation project at the historic Tuxedo Club near New York.

The club was founded in 1886 and, according to legend, named the jacket the same year, after member James Potter traveled to England and found the style de rigeur for a dinner with the Prince of Wales. Upon Potter’s return to America with a new tailoring that was quickly adopted throughout the club, members’ jackets became eponymous as “tuxedos”.

Tuxedo hosted the first American interclub match in 1894, with Shinnecock Hills, and another later that same year where teams from the Country Club and St Andrew’s also competed. More recently, it was the proving ground of David Fay and Jay Mottola, who both served as caddies and field crew and would continue, during their time as USGA executive directors and of the Metropolitan Golf Association, to be instrumental in bringing the US Open to New York’s Bethpage Black.

The current Tuxedo Golf Course opened in 1957, laid out by Robert Trent Jones after the construction of the New York Thruway forced a move from the previous site near the main clubhouse. “It was a very exciting project for my dad because it was such an established club and he was able to select this beautiful, pristine property in this natural area, where you really feel away from the work of city life. , while being so close to a large population base,” said Rees Jones.

Situated between the mountains, the Trent Jones routing at the bottom of the valley and its green complexes have survived to this day. The dangers, however, required special attention. Casey Klossner, the club’s director of agronomy, said: “The bunkers were very old, they hadn’t been touched for at least 25 years in some cases. This was affecting conditions, aesthetics and playability, so we really felt it was time to reinvest in the property.

Jones was hired by the club – “the connection between him and his father with our property is definitely very important to our members,” Klossner said – and, along with his design partner Bryce Swanson, analyzed each bunker for its effectiveness, its playability and accessibility.

A plan has been devised to improve hazard performance and, in some cases, adjust their size and placement to make them relevant to modern play. “not just for the strong player, but for everyone,” Swanson noted.

The most significant changes in bunker placement are at the par five. “From my dad’s days to me, par fives have really become par fours, so they need to be adapted a bit more to today’s game,” Jones said. “In particular, we wanted to make the second hit more engaging and stressful about the ride, so it’s not just an automatic bomb.”

Throughout the course the sand is now thrown lower on the faces of the bunkers, with the upper part being grassed to restore the bunkers to their original style. The sand line is somewhat jagged, with Jones noting that many of his dad’s courses started out that way but become more oval over time. There are now fewer downhill tracks on the bunker floors, so they are more playable and accessible for members.

The new design, combined with improved drainage infrastructure, makes a significant difference for Klossner and his crew. “I remember times as recent as last fall, before the project, we had torrential rains and we needed a whole day just to fix the bunkers on the green side, and at least half of the next day for the fairway bunkers,” Klossner said. “Now we’ve had bouts of four inch rain and been out in the morning and they’ve all drained properly. This is what the place deserves.

The fairway lines have also been adjusted. “The fairways had narrowed a lot and the bunkers were surrounded by rough, so shots heading into a bunker often got caught in the long grass,” Jones said. “We spent a lot of time looking at the fairway lines to connect them to the bunkers and the green complexes,” Swanson added. The team also introduced more greenside chipping areas, to provide options for recovery shots.

Another major driver of the project was the desire to improve practice facilities. Jones and Swanson completely redesigned the ninth hole, with new tees, bunkers and green, to accommodate a new short game area at the location of the original ninth green, close to the golf clubhouse.

The new ninth is nearly as long as before, with designers identifying space to move the tee box back. “The length of the hole has only changed by about 17 yards,” Klossner said. “We made the right changes to the fairway landing zone and the new green complex is very unique and protects the hole very well.”

“We used the old green outlines as a guide and just changed the orientation of the bunker to accommodate it,” Swanson said. “The end result is a new ninth hole that looks and feels like the rest of the golf course.”

Work was originally scheduled to take place over two winters, but favorable weather allowed the team to complete the project in one, before the 2022 season. Members, many of whom are wintering in Florida, return in revitalized tuxedos . “The enthusiasm from the members has been tremendous,” Klossner said. “As I’m driving around the property people are pointing out to me – they’re just blown away by the changes we’ve made.”

This article first appeared in the July 2022 issue of Golf Course Architecture. For a print subscription or a free digital edition, please visit our subscriptions page.