Donald Harradine - One of the greatest European Golf Course Architect


Donald Harradine was born in Enfield near London in 1911. He grew up under his stepfather, a golf professional who made clubs for Shooters Hill Golf Club. Harradine’s stepfather taught as one of the first golf instructors at Harrods, at an indoor golf academy which he himself founded. This early and intimate contact with the golfing world kindled Don Harradine’s passion for the game, at which he soon became a scratch player. He remained loyal to the making of golf clubs and Harradine also became a brand name in this field.


In 1929 he was given his first opportunity of working as golf course architect on the continent. According to his plans, the Bad Ragaz golf course was rebuilt into a prototype course. During his activities in Switzerland he fell in love with the country and its people and decided to stay, despite the fact that times were hard and in winter he was obliged to supplement his living with jobs such as a librarian in the Grand Hotel St. Moritz. Harradine first spent time in Davos, subsequently in Vulpera, Flims and Bern, where he designed and built the first 9-hole course.


Due to his language proficiency, Harradine undertook military service for the British embassy in Bern from 1939. During this period, when a skilift broke down, he had the good fortune to meet his future wife Babette. She bore their son Peter and daughter Kathleen, managed the household and above all the office during Don’s frequent absence, thus significantly helping to further his career. After the war Donald Harradine found new assignments as golf course architect and he moved to Caslano near Lugano. In a lengthy and inspiring career he designed and built hundreds of golf courses. Donald Harradine’s influence on European golf is recognizable everywhere. His style was the unobtrusive character of a golf course in its intrinsic landscape, but at a very sportive distinctive level. One of Donald’s greatest talents was the construction of golf courses on very small areas and with low budgets, an art at which he was virtually second to none and which made him genius loci.


His golf courses could be maintained with minimal care and one of his axioms was that the executive committee of a golf club should always consist of an uneven number of members, and that three were too many. He also never forgot that golf was played between the ears and that nothing could be achieved by brute force.


In building golf courses Donald always pursued two goals: fun and pleasure for all players, a challenge for the low handicappers.


Donald Harradine was founder member of the British Association of Golf Course Architects (now the British Institute of Golf Course Architects) and later of the European Society of Golf Course Architects. Members of these “architects’ chambers” guarantee a high quality standard of their golf courses as an integral part of the landscape.


With the foundation of the International Greenkeepers’ Association in 1969, Donald and Babette Harradine supported the instruction and training for this, new to the continent, occupation. Assisted by competent professionals and backed by industry, he communicated the fundamentals of daily work at seminars and training courses.


Without the prudent foresight of Donald Harradine, the IGA with its state associations, and thus the quality of golf course maintenance, would not have attained today’s standards. Donald’s son Peter, who is well known for his own golf courses, now represents the third generation of Harradines in golf course architecture. Peter will carry on the life’s work of Donald Harradine. The Harradine team headed by Peter has already completed numerous golf courses worldwide.


In Donald Harradine the golf world has lost a friend and gentleman, a man with British humour who designed golf courses solely for the purpose of pleasure and relaxation, embodying the “spirit of the game”, once the hallmark of golf. Donald Harradine died at his beloved home in Caslano on September 26, 1996.


Written by: Götz Mecklenburg

Source: ESGA YearBook 1997

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