John Harbottle III, an American Society of Golf Course Architects member and president of John Harbottle Design in Tacoma, died Thursday, May 24. He was 53.
Rich Friend, head professional at Tacoma Country and Golf Club, told the News Tribune on Friday that Harbottle was waiting for a layover flight at Los Angeles International Airport and complained of pain in his neck and shoulder. He went over to be worked on at a nearby chair massage and spa business in the airport terminal.
Shortly after sitting down, he abruptly died. The cause of death has yet to be determined.
Harbottle was nationally recognized for his commitment to environmentally-sensitive design. His award-winning layouts included Palouse Ridge in Pullman, Wash.; Ridgecrest Golf Course, Nampa, Idaho; Stevinson Ranch, Stevinson, Calif.; The Olympic Course, Bremerton, Wash.; and The Golf Club at Genoa Lakes, South Lake Tahoe, Nev. All were designated "Best New Courses in the United States" by “Golf Digest.”
A landscape architecture graduate from the University of Washington, Harbottle began his career 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.
Extensive travel to Scotland allowed Harbottle to study golf’s traditions and form the basis for many of his own designs. He described his design work, especially its noted sensitivity to the environment, when he said, “Our goal is to create natural looking golf courses with a links touch; timeless classics that fit the terrain as if they have always existed. 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.
“Great courses possess natural beauty, strategic hazards and variety – not only in overall design, but also in the ways to play each hole,” Harbottle said.
Harbottle is survived by his wife, Teresa, and children, Johnny and Chelsea.