This week the Tour is playing in New Orleans at the TPC and last week they played on Hilton Head Island at Harbour Town GC. Both golf courses were designed by Pete Dye.
Dye has been known as Dyeabolical. A few years ago, Time magazine had an article about the 10 toughest golf courses in the world, and 3 of them were Dye designs.
Dye was born in 1925 and started designing courses when he was 35. He’d been a star insurance salesman and a hotshot amateur golfer … but sometimes golf can cause a mid-life crisis. But for Dye, 35 was not mid-life. He’s 88 years old and still designing golf courses.
Do I like his courses? Sometimes. I love Harbour Town. It’s not tricked-up, the holes are attractive and make sense, and it rewards the good ball-striker. The fairways are narrow and need well placed drives – usually slightly curved into the landing zones. The greens are tiny and reward good shots – not just good putts. Some of the well known “stars” who just bomb it off the tee and then find it somewhere, and then manage to get it on a huge green and putt well … they usually avoid Harbour Town.
But some of his courses are goofy. And he was the guy who started the fad with railroad ties in bunkers. I much prefer his courses in the Southeast to his courses in the West.
Probably the most famous hole in golf – hole #17, the par three island green at Sawgrass is a Pete Dye design. And I think Sawgrass is actually a pretty fair golf course. But golfers are crazy. Many years ago I got paired-up at Sawgrass with a guy from Chicago who told me that he played Sawgrass whenever he was in Jacksonville. He then opened the side vents of his golf bag and told me that he was ready for the round – the vents were stuffed with about 100 golf balls. After 9 holes he went into the clubhouse and refilled his bag.
That’s not my idea of a good time – but this guy smiled and laughed all through his round. Dye wanted his courses to be a challenge – and they are. Some are fair – some aren’t.
But it’s always fun to watch how Tour players deal with the challenges Dye presents. I’m already looking forward to the Players Championship at Sawgrass.
GM and Head Golf Professional