5. Do you like Pete Dye designs and where does the Stadium Course rank against his other layouts?
Kite: I love Pete’s work. He’s by far the most innovative architect in the game. He’s able to produce golf courses that allow players to play to their strengths, while still demanding great shots. There are so many options on each hole. You have to play the angles. Has he gone over the edge? Yes. But when your goal is to challenge the best players in the world, you need to take it to the edge. In a major tournament, you need to push guys. Nobody wants to see 20- or 22-under win it. That’s not what tournament golf’s about. It’s about determining who the best player is in a given week, and Pete understands that.
Ames: I would definitely put it in the top of the class. That and Harbour Town. But at Harbour Town, he had Nicklaus helping him. Being a TPC and being where the Tour’s headquarters is, they’ve refined it over the years. They’ve softened it up, made it a lot easier and much more playable over the years. If it was left as it was, it probably was one of the worst. The grass is different now. It used to be overseeded, but now it’s all bermuda. I think it’s better now to be honest. It was so unpredictable in March. We played it and it was wet. I remember a couple of mud balls I got screwed on. But that’s going to happen. This time playing in May, maybe not this year, but in general, it’s going to be in great condition. And that’s why they moved it to May.
Hayes: Pete’s a fun guy to be around. He’s a comic figure—he thinks he knows everything. But I think sometimes he overdoes it, especially on the greens. He gets carried away with contours, tries to get too penal. For one, he hates the USGA and rails against the USGA’s green specs. But the problem is the greens don’t hold up. I live at Oak Tree in Oklahoma. There are five Dye courses here, and they’ve had to renovate all of them. When I got into course design, I asked someone in the business how long Dye’s greens last. He said, “They need to be renovated every 10 years.” Sometimes, Pete just throws stuff together, but he doesn’t like to be told what to do.
Norman: Pete is a master at his craft and the TPC at Sawgrass is right up there with some of his best work. Pete really makes you think your way around the golf course and use all 14 clubs in your bag. I am not ashamed to admit, I am a huge fan of Pete personally, along with his design work. I have collaborated with Pete on two projects, and they were both great learning experiences for me.
Floyd: In general, yes. I’m very in favor of Pete Dye, and all the work he did. Well, I always like Harbour Town the best. I thought that was a very good golf course. But Pete has done so many really, really good golf courses it’s hard to give them an order. I love the Teeth of the Dog in the Dominican. That’s terrific as well. He’s done so many good things, it’s hard to pick one against another.
Wadkins: I found it was an awkward course to play. You’re always hitting shots over trouble on these odd angles, which Pete Dye does on purpose. Generally, I like Pete’s courses. But anyone who has been as prolific as he has, or, say, Jack Nicklaus has—some courses will fit your eye, and others will just feel awkward, like Sawgrass did for me. With Pete, I like how he gets creative. That gives you a lot of options as a player. But in general, I don’t think there is a “typical course” on the PGA Tour, like some people say. They don’t just throw some holes in a field and send us after it. The quality is incredible. The only thing you know you’ll see week-to-week on Tour are greens running at 11.
Leonard: I look forward to Sawgrass. There’s a lot of strategy involved. It’s not all about putting the ball in the fairway. If you can get it to certain sides of the fairway, you give yourself more angles. Usually off the tee, the side that has more trouble on it, tends to have a better line into the green. So sometimes you have to take on those bunkers off the tee in order to give yourself a little better angle on your approach. I enjoy it. There were days and years when the rough was so deep that I felt like it worked against how the golf course was designed. But now that we play it in May and there is no overseed, we play the golf course more as it was intended to play.
Choi: I would say the Stadium Course is my favorite layout of out the Pete Dye courses. His layouts are always challenging, and you need to be able to control the ball and be very precise with your shots.
McCumber: He is a renaissance designer to me. He has built target golf. I think this is a perfect course for why it was built. It wasn’t built for the beginner to learn how to play. It was built for the greatest players in the world to test them. Pete is kind of the mad genius on knowing how to test players. It’s not unfair at all. He likes to mentally scare you. I think it’s one of the best products he’s put out among a prolific amount of designs. Also, I say that because I know how difficult the property was. There was no natural elevation change, it was very dense and he had to dry the site. It was quite an accomplishment. We had the construction contract to build the TPC. We worked on it for months and started constructing some of the moats around it. Then I got my card, and we ended up turning it over to one of our very qualified sub-contractors. I thought that I was a player, and I didn’t want to manage a construction job for the Tour while playing the Tour. They obviously did a great job with Pete’s direction.
Stenson: I played my first Players back in 2006 and really fell in love with the course. I guess that is also why I have had great results there. It is all there in front of you, and the "risk-reward” theme is something I really appreciate. As a player, you chose how aggressive or defensive you want to be and you will either pay the price for it or get the reward. More courses like that, please!