John Harris

Full Name
John Dering Harris
Year of Birth
1912
Year of Death
1977 (aged 65)
Place Born
Chobham, Surrey, England
Place Died
Puttenham, Surrey, England

"Although many of the courses bearing Harris’s name were designed and built by members of his staff, most were his own designs and he travelled the globe to supervise their construction. It was noted after his death that he may have been better known abroad than in Great Britain... Harris once estimated that he had participated in the design, remodelling and construction of over 450 courses." The Golf Course by Cornish & Whitten

John Harris was educated at Pangbourne Nautical College, an independent boarding school in Berkshire where he gained civil engineering and surveying qualifications before joining the family construction company which was run by his father and uncle.

Established in the 1890s, Franks Harris Brothers was the first golf course construction firm in Britain, building courses for all the top architects at the time, such as J. F. Abercromby, Harry Colt and Herbert Fowler.

They constructed the course, clubhouse and residential estate at Moor Park in 1923 – one of the very first developments of that genre – then a short time later they built the East and West courses on the Wentworth Estate.

John’s main role in the firm was to translate into legible drawings for his foremen the sketches and pictures of putting greens, tees and bunkers that his firm received as working plans – some of which were described as “illegible and even childish”.

Harris was drafted into the Navy in 1939, eventually becoming a commander of minesweepers. While working for the Fifth Sea Lord, he was involved in the planning and construction of airfields in the Azores, Gibraltar and Malta.

After World War II, he formed a design partnership with C.K. Cotton (and later with Frank Pennink and Charles Lawrie) among others.

Courses designed by John Harris in England are few and far between but he built or remodelled a number in Ireland, including Shannon (1966), Courtown (1971) and the Castle course at Lahinch (1971). He is also known to have carried out design work at Fermoy, Royal Tara and Tramore.

On the continent of Europe, Harris made his mark in a number of countries. He...

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Featured courses designed, remodelled and added to by John Harris

Aalborg (Red & Yellow)

21st Denmark Ranking

Aalborg is the second oldest golf club in Denmark with members celebrating its centenary in 2008, but golf was first played on the present site when John Harris laid out a course in 1968.

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Barbados

5th Barbados Ranking 50th Caribbean Ranking

Laid out in two returning 9-hole circuits that finish on either side of a lake in front of the clubhouse, the revamped course at Barbados Golf Club offers a slightly tougher challenge than its predecessor.

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Barlassina

20th Northern Italy - Best in Area 43rd Italy Ranking

Situated a mere 20km to the north of Milan, Barlassina Country Club is an exclusive and private club, which was originally founded in 1956 by a group of wealthy Italians...

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Biella

3rd Northern Italy - Best in Area 3rd Italy Ranking 56th Continental Europe Ranking

Golf Club Biella known locally as "Le Betulle" is located in Valcarozza, one of the most evocative and serene spots in northern Italy. The club was founded in 1958 and the English architect John Morrison designed it.

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Courtown

3rd Wexford - Best in Area

Courtown Golf Club is a lovely parkland course – measuring 6,466 yards from the medal tees – located on land that was once part of the Courtown Estate.

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Cranbrook

26th Kent - Best in Area

Cranbrook Golf Club, formerly Hemsted Forest, was formed in 1969 and its par 70 course was – as its previous name suggests – hewn from dense, rolling woodland close to the small town of Cranbrook. In 2018, Cranbrook closed, one-year before the club's half-centenary.

Fermoy

6th Cork - Best in Area 99th Ireland Ranking

Fermoy Golf Club was founded in 1893 but in 1972 the club moved six kilometres south to Corrin Hill, calling in Commander John Harris to fashion a new 18-hole course for the members.

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Handara

3rd Bali - Best in Area 27th Indonesia Ranking

The 18-hole course at Handara Golf & Resort Bali (formerly Bali Handara Kosaido) is a mid-1970s design by Ron Fream (when he worked with Peter Thomson and Mike Wolveridge) and it occupies a stunning location nestled inside a volcano crater in the Bedugul mountains.

Helsingør

25th Denmark Ranking

Helsingør Golf Club was founded in 1927 and is one of Denmark’s oldest courses. It enjoys a wonderful parkland setting and is highly regarded by members and visitors.

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Hong Kong (Eden)

6th Hong Kong Ranking

Perhaps because of its 115-year history, the Hong Kong Golf Club is one of a minority of golfing institutions in Asia that still very much feels more like a club than a commercial enterprise.

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