It was 40 years ago that Jerry Pate won the Players Championship, and memorably brought a few dignitaries into the lake that borders the 18th hole at TPC Sawgrass Stadium Course. One of those who participated in the ad hoc baptism was Pete Dye, who designed the course.
Five years later, the two men traded water for dirt, as Pate advised Dye on the creation of TPC Sawgrass' second course, now called Dye's Valley.
Now, two-plus years after Dye's passing, Pate and design partner Steve Dana are once again working with Dye - as consulting architects at Casa de Campo in the Dominican Republic, whose Teeth of the Dog course is one of the most famous expressions of Dye's creativity. Pate and Dana act as stewards of Dye's work, making sure grassing lines, bunkers and vistas are true to the intentions of the man who created all of Casa de Campo's golf.
"Pete's a lot like Columbo," Pate once said of Dye. "He knows the answer to the mystery, he just has to get someone to confess."
Pete Dye's influence on modern golf course architecture is difficult to overstate. Not only did he preside over the creation of several of the game's iconic championship courses - TPC Sawgrass, Kiawah Island, Whistling Straits and more - he cultivated a vast network of proteges and collaborators, who have carried on Dye's legacy in the form of hundreds of notable courses around the world.
Like Pate and Dana, those "Dye disciples" have taken cues about how golf course features should be arranged from their mentor while also helping push the practice of building courses into a healthier place. Throughout the latter half of the 20th century, Dye helped reinstitute the design-build paradigm, where architects and shapers typically put months of dedicated, daily attention into their courses, rather than drafting plans on a computer and farming out most of the construction to contractors.
Today, many of the best practitioners show a similar commitment to hands-on architecture, to the ultimate benefit of course developers and golfers alike.
Here are nine more figures in golf course architecture whose own work has been influenced by Pete Dye, as well as Alice, his wife an constant collaborator. If one of these names is associated with a golf course you'll be playing, chances are you're in for an interesting time.
P.B. Dye; Dye Designs
Dye's eldest son, P.B., collaborated with his father on designs like Prestwick and DeBordieu in the Myrtle Beach area, while also taking the lead on projects like Loblolly Golf Club in Hobe Sound, Fla.; and the popular public P.B. Dye Golf Club near Frederick, Md. The younger Dye is just one of many members of the family in the design business. P.B.'s late brother Perry designed dozens of courses primarily west of the Mississippi and in Asia, while Pete's niece Cynthia Dye McGarey has made a name for herself with courses like West Cliffs in Portugal and White Horse Golf Club on the Kitsap Peninsula in Washington.
To look at Doak's courses, whose shaping and bunkering often harken back to the Golden Age (pre-Great Depression) and earlier, one might be surprised that he worked under Dye during the construction of courses like Long Cove in Hilton Head Island, S.C. But Doak's fierce independence and confidence in his own vision makes him as fitting an heir to Dye's place in the profession as anyone. Courses like Streamsong Blue in Florida and The Loop in Michigan have passionate followings not in spite of their sometimes boundary-pushing features, but because of them.
Bill Coore & Ben Crenshaw
Like Doak, Coore also cut his teeth in design working for Dye, joining Dye Designs in 1972. He worked on courses like Kingsmill Resort's River Course and Cardinal Country Club in Greensboro, N.C. The genteel North Carolina native and Texan two-time major champion Crenshaw have forged one of modern design's most fruitful partnerships, with quality courses like Ozarks National, Kapalua Plantation and Bandon Trails to recommend them.
Weed lives barely a pitching wedge from Sawgrass, where he has helped steward not just the Players Stadium Course, but TPC's Dye's Valley course as well. Several accessible courses in northern Florida bear Weed's imprint. The Slammer & Squire at World Golf Village is distinctly Dye-influenced, with stately flat-bottom bunkers and some mischievous green contours that make it both playable and fun.
Liddy worked as extensively with Pete Dye as anyone outside the family, including at the fun and eccentric Nemacolin Woodlands Resort in Western Pennsylvania, as well as town-owned Wintonbury Hills Golf Club in Bloomfield, Conn., which I have played dozens of times since its 2004 opening. Liddy's own design credits include Sultan's Run and The Fort, both in Dye's native Indiana.
Urbina, who has carved out a niche restoring historic courses like Alister MacKenzie's Valley Club of Montecito in California and A.W. Tillinghast's Paramount Country Club in New York, got his start in design working for Pete and Perry Dye on several projects out West. Urbina also was heavily involved with Tom Doak's Old Macdonald at Bandon Dunes, an homage to C.B. Macdonald, who was one of Dye's own main influences.
Whitman is best-known for his work north of the border, including Cabot Links, and now partners in a design firm with Dave Axland and Keith Cutten. In the 1980s, Whitman spent time with Dye building courses like Austin Country Club and renovating earlier Dye designs, Crooked Stick Golf Club in Indiana and Oak Tree in Oklahoma.
Sherman, who is a key figure in Davis Love III's design business, helped Dye build courses in Colorado and Hawaii. He also oversaw touch-up work prior to the 2021 PGA Championship at Kiawah Island's Ocean Course. In addition, he is helping restore Delray Dunes Golf & Country Club in Delray Beach, Fla., where Pete and Alice Dye lived the last several years of their tremendous lives.
The Midwest has been fertile territory for Dye and his disciples. Lutzke helped build Whistling Straits, leaned on his mentor to build Eagle Eye in Michigan and channeled Dye brilliantly again when called upon to craft the 10-hole Baths of Blackwolf Run, which opened last year on a small footprint but with a big personality.
Have you played any of the courses designed or renovated by these "Dye disciples"? Leave a comment below to share with us and your fellow golfers.