One of A Kind

By Larry Gilhuly, director, Northwest region
June 20, 2012

John Harbottle III (center), golf course architect, offering his one-of-a-kind expertise. His untimely passing has left a void in the golfing community throughout the Northwest Region and he will be deeply missed. Fortunately, John’s work lives on for all of us to enjoy.

Golf course architects come in all shapes and sizes. They are an incredibly talented group that can take a piece of earth and mold it (sometimes with incredible ease and surprisingly little earthwork) into playing fields for our game. They restore classic venues and renovate others to keep pace with modernization in the game while realizing that it remains, in essence, just a game. Yes, golf course architects are a unique and small group with tremendous talent. Unfortunately, this group, and all of golf for that matter, was lessened recently with the passing of John Harbottle III. For those of us in the Pacific Northwest, this very talented golf course architect has had at least some degree of impact on the vast majority of players in ways that may not be too obvious to most. Check out the following list of golf courses that John designed or restored during his all-too-brief career:

Designed - Palouse Ridge, The Olympic Course at Gold Mountain, Banbury, Ridgecrest, Juniper, Sunbrook “Black Lava” and 10 more courses in California, Nevada, Wisconsin and Minnesota.

Restoration/renovation - Blue Lakes, Broadmoor, Canterwood, Eugene CC, Fircrest, Hillcrest, Inglewood, Kelowna G&CC, Lake Spanaway, Manito, Meridian Valley, Oswego Lake, Overlake, Park Meadows, Portland Golf Club, Royal Oaks, Spokane CC, Tacoma C&GC, The Country Club of Salt Lake, The Resort at the Mountain, Waverley, White Horse and 17 golf courses that represent a large cross-section of many of the older and well-known golf facilities in Southern, Central and Northern California.

All of the golf courses mentioned above benefited from the Harbottle touch. His architecture was the most obvious visual element he offered to us, but for those that were fortunate enough to meet John or spend time with him you know what is meant by John being described as “one of a kind.” If there exists a single individual in the golf industry with better manners,  sense of humor, humility and the ability to listen they may equal John, but never surpass him. To watch him during the 2006 U.S. Amateur Public Links and again during the 2011 U.S. Junior at Gold Mountain was a pure joy. His youthful enthusiasm and pride watching the competitor’s being challenged on his creation gave him a  perpetual grin from ear to ear during both USGA National Championships.

So the next time you tee it up on one of John Harbottle’s creations remember to thank him when your shots bounce the right direction. When the opposite occurs remember who hit the shot in the first place. Above all, know that John is smiling at the simple thought that you are getting enjoyment out of his designs and work. 

Source: Larry Gilhuly ( or 253.858.2266

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