2005: Golf loses designers Harman, Byrd
Two veteran golf course designers died during the holiday season. Willard C. Byrd, 85, based in Atlanta, died Dec. 18 of undisclosed causes. Dave Harman of Windermere, Fla., was 51 years old when he succumbed to cancer Dec. 28.
Byrd, a Fellow of the American Society of Golf Course Architects, combined a career in landscape architecture with work in course design. After graduating from North Carolina State University in 1948, he worked on public land planning for several U.S. government agencies before founding his own landscape architecture firm in Atlanta. He often did entire land plans, including real estate, roads and course routing. His golf course work, focused entirely in the Southeast, included collaboration with established course designers, among them Robert Trent Jones Sr. (Country Club of North Carolina’s Cardinal Course), Ellis Maples (Country Club of North Carolina’s Dogwood Course) and Joe Finger (Atlanta Country Club).
Among Byrd’s other design credits are the Landings at Skidaway’s Plantation Course (1984) in Skidaway Island, Ga., and Wild Wing Plantation’s Wood Stork Course (1991) and Hummingbird Course (1992) in Myrtle Beach. S.C.
Byrd’s devotion to his craft extended to the classroom and to mentoring younger designers. He spent five years as a graduate school instructor of landscape architecture at Georgia Tech University. Throughout his career, he emphasized adherence to basics and not forgetting the needs of the majority of golfers. “Golf course architecture is just fancy farming,” he told an interviewer in 1989.
Byrd’s former disciples and associates include course designers Bill Boswell, Lee Chang, Clyde Johnston and the late Arthur Davis. Johnston, immediate past president of the ASGCA, worked under Byrd’s tutelage for 13 years. “What I learned most,” said Johnston, “was how to blend golf courses with residential developments without sacrificing either element.”
Byrd is survived by his wife, Eunice; daughters Helen Byrd and Harriet Byrd Ledbetter; son-in-law, Bureon Ledbetter; and granddaughters Martha and Millie Ledbetter.
Dave Harman, a native of Bryan, Ohio, came into the design business by way of golf course construction. His firm, Golf Course Consultants, built dozens of courses in the United States and overseas. Among the 30-plus he built for the Arnold Palmer design group were Tralee Golf Club (1985) in Ireland, PGA West’s Palmer Course (1986) in La Quinta, Calif., and the Bluffs on Thompson Creek (1988) in St. Francisville, La.
In 1996, Harman turned his attention to architecture and opened his own firm, David Harman Golf Course Design. In the late 1990s, Harman ventured to New Zealand, where he designed and built Kauri Cliffs Golf Course on spectacular bluffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Among the more recent projects he completed were three Orlando, Fla.-area properties, Orange County National (1998), Shingle Creek Golf Club (2003) and Red Tail Golf Club (2004).
Harman is survived by his wife, Kathy, and three children, Michael, Laura and Bryan.