The golf world lost one of its most influential personalities this week when 94-year-old Pete Dye succumbed to the ravages of Alzheimer’s disease.
He had the knowledge and vision to do things in golf course architecture that no one before him had dared to attempt. When you think of Dye, you immediately think of the Stadium Course at the TPC at Sawgrass and its treacherous island 17th green.
While he put together a legendary career, after being a very accomplished amateur golfer, Dye incurred the wrath of players at all levels with some of his quirky designs. But the man who was born in Urbana, Ohio, always had the same retort to those complaints: “Golf is not a fair game, so why build a course fair?”
Among others, Dye’s great works include Kiawah’s Ocean Course, Harbour Town and this year’s Ryder Cup venue, Whistling Straits’ Straits Course.
But Dye’s work will forever be remembered in our area as well. He was heavily involved in the planning and construction of the Mystic Rock Golf Course at Nemacolin Woodlands Resort and was a guiding force behind the creation of the Shepherd’s Rock course there.
He and Nemacolin’s legendary owner, Joe Hardy, became good friends over the course of those layouts being built, although there was a fair share of butting heads as monster boulders were moved around the mountain to create Mystic Rock, a layout that hosted a PGA Tour event.
Of course, there’s a special golf course that’s a couple hours ride down Interstate 79. It’s special because of the uniqueness of the layout, but it’s really special because it’s the only course that carries the name of its creator.
The Pete Dye Golf Club in Bridgeport, W.Va., is that course and is also a fitting tribute to the great man.
My favorite Dye course is Harbour Town at Hilton Head. It’s not as flashy — other than the spectacular 18th - but it is the kind of course that showed his brilliance. Hit it straight and you have a chance. Get wayward off the tee, however, and the place becomes a nightmare of chip shots from the trees and long approach shots into Dye’s typically devilish greens. It’s quite a place.
I have long maintained that Arnold Palmer was the most impactful man in the history of the game long before he passed away in 2016.
Pete Dye is in that same category, but in a different way. While Palmer brought the game to the masses and onto the television screens across the world, Dye changed the way golf course architects think and go about the process of building courses for the future.
R.I.P. Pete Dye.
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I don’t know about anybody else, but I certainly have enjoyed the nighttime golf we’ve had on TV over the last several weeks. Starting with the Presidents Cup in Australia and continuing to Hawaii for the Tournament of Champions and the Sony Open.
There’s something very relaxing about attending to the work of the day, have dinner and sit back to enjoy several hours of sunshine, blue skies and great golf.
All of that ends this weekend when the Sony Open concludes and the PGA Tour heads back to the mainland.
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I wonder if Patrick Reed realizes just how rough a year it’s going to be for him on the PGA Tour. He’s chosen to be belligerent and very much in denial about the furor he’s created with those two practice swings on his backswing that created a ditch in the sand, making his shot much easier.
It doesn’t seem to have clicked with him that golf fans around the world have elevated him to the No. 1 villain in golf and is in the crosshairs of those fans’ venom.
I can’t imagine what that week in June is going to be like at one of the great courses in the world, Winged Foot, the host of the U.S. Open. New York fans have a reputation for being brutal and can make his week a living hell.
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Do you have an interesting story about your club or course or an individual who has done something special? Let me know. Send your story ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org.