Pete Dye: The Artist

Pete Dye, 83, in Jupiter, Fla.
Gary Bogdon

By TOM DOAK, Architect

I might not have gotten anywhere in the business of golf design if I hadn’t worked for Pete and Alice Dye. When I was in college, I wrote letters for three years, angling to get a summer job on one of their construction crews. They finally relented at Long Cove Club in Hilton Head, S.C., in 1981. We started at 6:30 a.m., and of the 75 days
I worked, Mr. Dye was there at dawn for about 60 of them. The rest of the time he was off on his next projects. I found out that if you worked for the Dyes, you worked your ass off.

A week after I started, I asked Pete why he was so much more involved in the construction of his courses than the other big names of design. He said he had tried to build a couple of courses with big golf contractors, but they didn’t turn out like he wanted. He said the only way to be sure of getting what you wanted was to get in the dirt and do it yourself. So that’s what I set out to do.

Casa de Campo, Kiawah Island, TPC Sawgrass — the Dyes have built too many great courses to name, but in recent years people have started to notice that his legacy also includes giving a leg up to many young architects, including Bill Coore, Bobby Weed, Lee Schmidt and myself. I think that’s because Pete and his entire family were completely open. Once, I was listening to his son P.B. expounding on design when P.B.’s friend interrupted to ask if they wanted me to hear all of their trade secrets. P.B. replied, ‘Hey, if he can go out and build better golf courses than us, more power to him.’ And we are all out there trying.

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