John Dering Harris
(Taken from The Architects of Golf, by G S Cornish & R E Whitten (1981)
Born: Chobham, Surrey, England, 1912.
Died: Puttenham, Surrey, England, aged 64, 1977.
John Harris, a low-handicap golfer nearly all his life, was educated in civil engineering at Nautical College in Berkshire, England. His father, Frank, and Uncle Charles, operated a construction firm specializing in golf courses. Joining their firm after college, Harris had the opportunity to work with most of the leading British golf architects. He became director of the business after his father’s death in the 1930s but discontinued operations when war broke out
Harris served with the Royal Navy during World War II, attaining the rank of commander. He returned to golf design in the late 1940s, with C K Cotton, with whom he formed a partnership in the early 1950s. In 1960 Harris left to establish his own firm and began worldwide operation. By the 1970s his associates included Bryan Griffiths and Michael Wolveridge of Great Britain. During the same period, five-time British Open champion Peter Thomson of Australia and Ronald Fream of the United States teamed with Harris for a time in a worldwide partnership.
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, for he did relatively little work in his native land. Harris himself once estimated that he had participated in the design, remodeling and construction of over 450 courses.