Bob Harrison talks about designing some of Australia’s great golf courses

Prominent Australian golf course designer Bob Harrison talks candidly about the golf courses he has helped designed, including Kerry Packer’s private golf course.

Brookwater Golf Club
Brookwater Golf Club

If you’ve ever played a Greg Norman designed golf course in Australia, chances are that Bob Harrison played a large part of its design. Harrison worked as Greg Norman Golf Course Design’s lead designer for over 21 years and constructed some of Australia’s finest golf course layouts including The National’s Moonah course, Brookwater, The Vintage, The Glades, Pelican Waters and Ellerston.

Harrison has parted ways with Greg Norman Design and established his own golf course design business – Harrison Golf. He recently gave his thoughts on the design process and completion of many of his golf course designs to the good folk over at thegolfforum.com.

To say it is worth the read is an understatement.

Harrison talks about the life that lead him to golf course design, and then provides some wonderfully candid summaries on several of his most notable Australian and International projects. Here are some snippets from the interview;

On The National Moonah Course:

I was certainly nervous from the beginning of this project because it had such a high profile and so much was expected from a new course in such wonderful land.  And this was my first experience in the sand dunes, so I was feeling my way to some extent, and I was always conscious of the need to get the best from it – partly for my own satisfaction and partly because of the pressure.

On The Grand:

The Grand has always been a favourite with me, and I think it sometimes gets poorly treated in the golf press.  The land is beautiful and isolated, and I think most of the holes are appealing.  What happened in the 2001 Australian Open was, in my view, a poor reflection on the attitudes of many of the professionals.

On Brookwater:

The plan was to review the narrowness progressively with the operators of the course, which I did for some y ears.  It was my view that if they needed to clear more trees, that’s what we would do.  But the answer was always, despite the course being difficult, it was popular.  So it has remained narrow but has retained substantial areas of the forest.

On Ellerston:

My dealing with Kerry Packer is a very small part of golf folklore which we won’t go into – with one exception.  Early in the design process Packer asked me what it was about this particular course that required an unusual approach and was individually expensive.  This is the only time I’ve ever been asked such a question, and I’ve subsequently thought about all of the other projects to try to determine an answer for each.  In the case of Ellerston, the answer was the bridges.

I had the privilege of meeting Harrison recently and I could have listened to him talk about golf for days on end. His knowledge and philosophy on golf course design is a pleasure to listen to and he continues to make his mark on the Australian golf landscape.

Take the time and check out the full Bob Harrison interview at thegolfforum.com – there are some stunning photos accompanying the piece.

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