Robert Bruce Harris received his BSLA from the University of Illinois after serving in the U.S. Navy during World War I. Harris launched his design business in Chicago and planned a number of parks and schools. During this period, he laid his first golf course, Old Channel Trail Golf Course in Michigan in 1926.
When the Depression hit the United States, Harris decided to take over abandoned courses, renovate them, and open them up for public play. Due to difficulties in shortage of funds and labor, Harris established economical requirements in order for his courses to remain playable, something he incorporated later on in his design philosophy.
After World War II, Harris devoted his full attention to golf course architecture and became one of the biggest names in his industry. By the 1950’s, he was busy designing courses in the Midwest and South and was estimated to design or remodel over 150 courses. During that time, he mentored several ASGCA members, such as Edward Lawrence Packard, David Gill, Dick Nugent, Ken Killian, and William James Spear.
With his background as a member of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA), Harris applied that knowledge when he became one of the 14 founding members of ASGCA. Harris served as ASGCA President from 1947-1949, and was an ASGCA member for 29 years until his death in 1976.