Architect Jones set to return to Eagle Point

Eagle Point Golf Club has a new reciprocal-play setup for its members.

The trick, however, will be getting to partner course.

It's Rio Hondo Golf Club — in Argentina.

"Getting the airfare will be the big thing," laughed Eagle Point owner Bob Hyer.

The development was just another for Hyer since he bought Robert Trent Jones Jr.-designed Eagle Point in 2013.

Hyer keeps in regular contact with Jones and recently called the renowned designer to confirm plans for his return to the Rogue Valley for next Saturday's fourth annual Robert Trent Jones Jr. Invitational. The tournament in Jones' honor benefits the Eagle Point High School boys and girls golf teams.

In keeping with previous formats, Jones will address tournament-goers prior to their round, then scoot around the course and play shots with each group. Afterward, he'll speak at a dinner.

Eagle Point opened in 1996. Of the nearly 300 courses Jones designed, it's the only one he owned as he built it.

"He calls it his orphan course," said Hyer, "and he's thrilled we're taking good care of it."

Jones attended the first two tournaments in his honor, but missed last year. It was held the same weekend as the U.S. Open at Chambers Bay, his grandest design and a place he needed to be at that particular time.

Truth is, when Hyer calls, he never knows where he'll catch Jones, who has made recent trips to Vietnam, Hungary, Japan, Ireland and, this week for the U.S. Open, Oakmont, Pennsylvania.

Oh yes, and Argentina.

"He's still globetrotting more than anyone I know," said Hyer.

Indeed, when he visited Eagle Point at Hyer's invitation shortly after the new owner took over three years ago, Jones said during a sit-down: "It's just that I'm a golf architect. Golf architects are a peripatetic people who run around the world trying to find farms that need to be golf courses."

Which brings us back to Argentina.

When Jones fielded Hyer's call, the former was touring the course he designed, Rio Hondo, with Argentine President Mauricio Macri. After chatting with Hyer, Jones turned the phone over to Macri's wife, who said a brief hello, and she turned it over to an aide, who was interested in the design of Eagle Point's clubhouse. The concept of a pro shop and a restaurant separated by a breezeway, such as at Eagle Point, intrigued her.

In subsequent correspondence, Hyer was invited to Argentina, and the president and his associates were invited to Eagle Point. Before long, a reciprocal had been crafted.

Hyer doesn't expect Macri to show at up Eagle Point anytime soon, but the offer stands.

Hyer has been afforded several opportunities to play with the 76-year-old Jones. Players next week can expect to see some pretty decent shots.

At the San Francisco Golf Club, Hyer watched as Jones drained "three or four 20-foot putts and chipped one in from off the green once. He's still got a great short game and hits the ball pretty good."

Another time, Hyer was invited by Jones to attend the 2014 reopening of the Poppy Hills course Jones designed at Pebble Beach. Hyer was on the 17th hole when Jones rode up and asked him when he was to fly out the next day.

"He said, 'Change it. I got us on at Cypress Point,'" said Hyer.

Hyer couldn't reschedule fast enough in anticipation of playing what he called golf's "Holy Grail" course.

He nearly made his first hole-in-one on the beautiful par-3 15th hole along oceanside cliffs.

He didn't nearly make one on the famed next hole, a 235-yard par 3 into the wind and over the ocean. Only 14 aces have been made there, one by Bing Crosby, said Hyer.

There will be an opportunity for more storymaking and storytelling next week with Jones on the grounds.

"He's really enthusiastic about coming here and helping young people getting started and playing golf," said Hyer.

BIG PLANS: Hyer has another big thing going on this week.

His team will meet with the Eagle Point Planning Commission Tuesday about building lodging on course property.

The project has been in the works for about a year, and the first phase calls for three chalet-style bungalows, representing 12 rental units, inside the course entrance near the ninth green.

Pending the success of those units, subsequent phases would include two more bungalows in the same area, followed by an event center with more rooms near the restaurant and pavilion.

The public hearing is at 7 p.m. at Eagle Point City Hall.

Have a local golf story idea? Reach sports editor Tim Trower at 541-776-4479, or email

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