Pete Dye

Pete Dye (Architect)


Paul B. "Pete" Dye (born December 29, 1925) is a golf course designer and a member of a family of course designers.[1] He is married to fellow designer and former amateur champion Alice Dye

Dye was born in Urbana, Ohio. A few years before Pete's birth, his father, Paul F. Dye also known as "Pink", got hooked on golf and built a nine-hole course on family land in Champaign County called the Urbana Country Club.[2] Pete worked and played that course while growing up. He won the Ohio State High School Golf Championship and medaled in the Ohio State Amateur Golf Championship[3] before he went into the Army in 1944. He attended Asheville School, a boarding school in Asheville, NC, with his brother, Andy, before he entered the Army in 1944. He entered the United States Army Airborne School at Fort Benning in Georgia to be a paratrooper, but World War II ended before he was sent overseas. He was stationed at Fort Bragg in North Carolina where he served the rest of his hitch as greenskeeper on the base golf course. Pete Dye explained,

"I played the golf course at Pinehurst No. 2 for six solid months, and I got to know Mr. Donald Ross...(who) had built the Fort Bragg golf course. He would come over and watch us play golf, and most of the time the captain and colonel hauled me over there. They didn't know who Mr. Ross was, but the other fellow walking with him was JC Penney, and they all knew him."[1]

After his discharge, he became a student at Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida where he met his wife, the former Alice Holliday O'Neal. They were married in early 1950, and their marriage produced two sons, Perry and P.B. (Paul Burke). They moved to Indianapolis, Indiana, Alice's hometown, and Pete began selling insurance.[1] Within a few years, he distinguished himself as a million dollar salesman. At the same time, he was a successful amateur golfer. Dye won the Indiana State Amateur Championship in 1958; he also finished as runner-up in 1954 and 1955 to U.S. Open, he finished ahead of Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer.[3]

Dye made the decision to become a golf course designer in his mid-30s. Alice supported his career change and became partner in the new venture. In 1961 the couple visited and talked to noted golf architect Bill Diddle, who lived nearby. He warned them about the economic uncertainty of the profession, but they persisted.[3] The first design from Dye and his wife was the nine-hole El Dorado course south of Indianapolis, which crossed a creek thirteen times. Those nine holes are now incorporated into the Royal Oak course at Dye's Walk Country Club.[4][5] Their first 18-hole course was created during 1962 in Indianapolis and was named Heather Hills. It is now known as Maple Creek Golf & Country Club.

Dye designed the Radrick Farms Golf Course for the University of Michigan in 1962, but the course did not open until 1965.[6] At the time, he was using the design style of Trent Jones, but after seeing the work of Alister MacKenzie, who designed the 1931 Michigan course, Dye decided to incorporate features from two greens into his next project.[1] Dye visited Scotland in 1963 and made a thorough study of the classic courses. The Scottish use of pot bunkers, bulkheads constructed of wood, and diminutive greens influenced his subsequent designs.[3]

His first well-known course was Crooked Stick Golf Club in Carmel, Indiana, begun in 1964. It later hosted the 1991 PGA Championship, won by John Daly. In 1967 he designed The Golf Club near Columbus, Ohio, where he solicited input from a young Jack Nicklaus, a Columbus resident. The two would work together to design the acclaimed Harbour Town Golf Links, opened in 1969, the site of an annual PGA Tour event ever since.[7] Nicklaus credits Dye with significant influence on his own approach to golf course design.[8] Also in 1969 he designed his first course in Florida called Delray Dunes. In 1970 Dye designed Martingham Golf Course in St. Michaels, Maryland, now known as Harbourtowne Resort. The owners of the project went bankrupt and Dye didn't get paid for the project. However, the course was finished and has many of Dye's signature course characteristics such as deep bunkers, small greens, short challenging par fours, and railroad ties. In 2015 the property was purchased by Richard D. Cohen [9] who has entered into an agreement with Dye to update and redesign the course. The new owner has also agreed to pay the funds that were not paid during the original design.[10]

In 1980 Dye designed and built a new course for Austin Country Club, one of the oldest private clubs in Texas, after the membership voted to move across town to a wooded Texas Hill Country site on the shores of Lake Austin. Working with turf school graduate ("turfie") Rod Whitman who later became an accomplished course designer in his own right, Dye created another classic course with narrow tree-lined fairways using his "target golf" philosophy. Pete worked with Whitman and a small contingent of immigrant workers armed only with chain saws for months as he personally pushed through the dense cedar and live oak trees with his hand-drawn routing and ruler to find appropriately sloping small pieces of land for landing areas and greens. Dye believed that the course was already there, he just had to find it. The course was well under construction before Pete bothered to locate some of the tees. One day during a tour of the construction, he told Austin natives Tom Kite & Ben Crenshaw, "Any fool can find a place to build a tee box."

In 1986 Dye also designed acourse in Italian province of Brescia, near Lake Iseo, the Franciacorta Golf Club, recognized today as wine golf course. Dye is considered to be one of the most influential course architects in the world. His designs are known for distinctive features, including small greens and the use of railroad ties to hold bunkers. His design for the Brickyard Crossing golf course at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway utilized the dismantled outer retaining wall from the race track. He is known for designing the "world's most terrifying tee shot". Known as the "Island Green", it is the 17th hole at TPC at Sawgrass located in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida.[11] Dye's designs have been credited with returning short & medium length par fours to golf. Many of the best young golf architects have "pushed dirt" for Pete, including Bill Coore, Tom Doak, John Harbottle, Butch Laporte, Tim Liddy, Scott Poole, David Postlewaite, Lee Schmidt, Keith Sparkman, Jim Urbina, Bobby Weed, Rod Whitman and Abe Wilson.[1][12]

Dye received the 2003 Old Tom Morris Award from the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America, their highest honor. In 2004, Dye was the recipient of the PGA Distinguished Service Award, the highest annual honor of the PGA of America, which recognizes individuals who display leadership and humanitarian qualities, including integrity, sportsmanship and enthusiasm for the game of golf. In 2005, he became the sixth recipient of the PGA Tour Lifetime Achievement Award. He was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in November 2008 in the Lifetime Achievement category.[13] The American Society of Golf Course Architects bestowed the Donald Ross Award on Dye in 1995.[14] Dye was named Architect of the Year by Golf World magazine, awarded a Doctor of Landscape Architecture degree from Purdue University, received Indiana's Sagamore of the Wabash award and was honored as Family of the Year by the National Golf Foundation.[1]