The golf course design industry has lost a legend. John Harbottle III, an American Society of Golf Course Architects (ASGCA) Member and president of John Harbottle Design of Tacoma, Washington, died May 24, 2012. He was 53. Harbottle is survived by his wife, Teresa, and children, Johnny and Chelsea.
John Harbottle was, quite literally, born into the game. The son of Pacific Northwest Hall of Fame golfers, he turned his early love for playing into a career developing world class golf courses.
A landscape architecture graduate from the University of Washington, Harbottle began his career in 1984, with ASGCA Past President Pete Dye, with whom he collaborated on projects throughout the world. Harbottle became an ASGCA Associate Member in 1992 and a Regular Member in 1996.
The Northwest, Washington especially, is suffering from the loss. As I looked through information available on him, I noticed a visual pattern to his designs that will be difficult to duplicate (Palouse and Stevinson come to mind). Also, with his focus on the environment in his work, I’m sure the wildlife around the courses he had a part in are spiritually hurting as well. Cameron Healey, publisher of Golf Today/Northwest Edition, and Washington resident said, “John and his family are icons in the Seattle area. John’s contributions to golf course design will be missed. Our hearts go out to his family.”
Harbottle was nationally recognized for his commitment to environmentally-sensitive design. His award-winning layouts included Stevinson Ranch, Stevinson, California; The Olympic Course, Bremerton, Washington; and The Golf Club at Genoa Lakes, South Lake Tahoe, Nevada. All were designated “Best New Courses in the United States” by Golf Digest. Harbottle also designed Palouse Ridge, Pullman, Washington; BanBury, Eagle Idaho; Juniper Golf Club, Redmond, Oregon; and the Challenge Course, Reno, Nevada.
Many of his courses received Audubon International signature designation. Harbottle’s style included allowing the “lay of the land” to dictate what the course was like. No doubt, his early travels to Scotland were an influence on his style and contributed to the “links touch” of his design. According to Harbottle, “The indigenous character of the links courses makes them not only appear a natural part of the landscape, but also allows them to function as a sustainable part of the ecosystem.”
Harbottle’s contributions to the golf industry will live on in testament to his dedication to his craft. His ability to create visually aesthetic masterpieces that enhance the golf experience will be sorely missed.