At home in Indiana, Pete Dye has created the masterpiece of all of his golf-course designs, an altar upon which all Dye lovers will worship his genius for all of golfing eternity.
His genius at French Lick is the view that goes on forever in all directions. In perhaps his last Masterpiece, he forged “the long view” through the rolling hills of Southern Indiana which future generations will come to know the man at the heart of this era of golf course design. This course is truly the gem of not only the Pete Dye Trail in Indiana but surely all of Dye’s vast portfolio.
Dye is a simple and humble man who works tirelessly. He does so without technology for the most part, preferring sketches on the back of napkins. He imprints his vision with those he works with to build great designs like the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass, Kiawah Island and Whistling Straits.
When asked how he figured out the puzzle and found the sweet spot of risk-reward design that challenged the players, pleased golf television producers and entertained us mere amateurs and lovers of the game, his meek reply was, “I don’t know, I have no idea, you tell me.”
In his uncanny style, he delivered what everyone wanted. Players rose to the higher standard of competitive course design, producers delivered the beauty of the courses and the drama of competition and we willingly pay big bucks to play Dye’s courses. The quiet, people- and dog-loving prophet aced the hole of modern golf course design before we ever imagined the golfing experience in our minds.
Golf came to the Dye family in the early 1920s when Pete’s father’s car broke down. Stranded, he went out to play a few holes of golf for the first time. Pete, when stationed at Fort Bragg, N.C., met a legend of golf course design: Donald Ross.
Amazingly, a neighbor was friends with a kid named Jack Nicklaus, and they would borrow Dye’s expert pointer dog when they went hunting. Later, the twosome designed and built Harbour Town Golf Links in Hilton Head Island, S.C. in 1969 and, from there, their design careers took off.
Pete Dye was a keen amateur golfer in his own right, qualifying for the 1963 British Amateur Championship at St. Andrews. Only a few years into the golf-design business his thorough tour of the classic Scottish golf courses would mold his style. Sort of a Renaissance man, he incorporated the historic pot bunkers, use of wooden bulkheads and small, slanted greens into modern courses.
Pete’s wife of 62 years, Alice, has also been a strong influence on him. They met in college at Rollins near Orlando. A champion golfer on her own, perhaps it is Pete standing behind Alice? In reality they are a dynamic golf architecture team. Previous presidents of the GCSAA, they have collaborated on most Dye designs, if not all in one way or another, including their most famous hole, the island-green 17th at Sawgrass.
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