The 16th at the TPC at Sawgrass
Evan Schiller
By Joe Passov
Thursday, August 30, 2007

Whether you regard Pete Dye as a genius, an iconoclast, or something in between, the simple truth is that no architect has had more influence on golf design in the modern era. With his liberal use of island greens, railroad ties, pot bunkers and heavy mounding, Dye transformed forever the way we look at golf courses. In recent years, Dye has softened his approach a bit. These days, errant shots don't "DOINK" into serious trouble as often as they did back in his 1980s heyday. Still, it only takes one look at his masterpiece o f the 1990s, the Straits Course at Wisconsin's Whistling Straits, to know that Pete Dye isn't done thrilling and exhausting golfers just yet.

Mystic Rock course at Nemacolin Woodlands Resort & Spa

    [LIST "TPC Sawgrass (Stadium Course), Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.
    Nowhere else will you experience the full force of Pete Dye's design skills than at the forerunner of all TPCs. Even with the advances in equipment, the island-green, par-3 17th and boomerang-shaped, par-4 18th remain as scary as the day they opened in 1981. Waste bunkers, huge spectator mounds, semi-blind shots, grass bunkers-they're all on display here at the home of the PGA Tour's Players Championship."]

    [LIST "Bulle Rock, Havre de Grace, Md."]
    Next to crab cakes, this 1998 Pete Dye design is Maryland's top attraction for visiting golfers. Home to the McDonald's LPGA Championship, an LPGA Tour Major, Bulle (pronounced "Bully") Rock is situated 40 minutes north of Baltimore and gallops over tree-lined, rolling terrain, with holes built on a massive scale. Huge hazards protect wide fairways and ample putting surfaces. Yet, despite golf this big, the emphasis is on course management, not power, which explains the enormous success that Annika Sorenstam enjoys. Bulle Rock closes with one of the Mid-Atlantic's most memorable holes, a 485-yard par-4 with water down the entire left side.

    [LIST "Ocean Course at Kiawah Island Resort, Kiawah Island, S.C."]
    Dye had to scramble just to finish this one in time for the 1991 Ryder Cup Match, affectionately known as "The War by the Shore," but the real winner was the battlefield itself. So tough was this wind-blown, Charleston-area, seaside layout when it first opened that Ray Floyd speculated no one would break 80 if it were hosting a strokeplay event. After a couple of design tweaks, the Ocean has been softened somewhat to make it more playable for regular folks, but just try parring the dune-laden par-5 16th, the over-the-lake, par-3 17th and the adjacent-to-the-ocean, par-4 18th on a windy day and then try and tell me it's a "soft" golf course.

    Joe Passov is the Architecture and Course Ratings Editor of GOLF MAGAZINE. E-mail him your questions and thoughts at

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