Pete Dye Golf Courses
Fifty Years of Visionary Design
Written by Joel Zuckerman, with tributes by Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Tom Doak, and Greg Norman
ate in 2006 it was my very good fortune to be chosen by the Dye family themselves to write the authorized celebration of Pete’s remarkable half-century career. My fifth book, which has just been released, is called Pete Dye: Golf Courses—50 Years of Visionary Design. A former insurance agent and crack amateur golfer, Pete was well into his 30s when he decided to chuck his membership in the Million Dollar Roundtable, and opt for membership in the American Society of Golf Course Architects instead. Good move. There are more than 300,000 insurance agents in the nation, and about two hundred members of the architects’ society. But there is only one Pete Dye.
The courses that Pete, often in concert with his wife, Alice, has created are a de facto honor roll of the most celebrated venues in the modern game, and a disproportionate number of his most famous creations are either in or close to Bluffton. Besides Hilton Head’s infamous Harbour Town, there’s The Ocean Course on Kiawah Island, and the famed TPC Sawgrass—Stadium Course near Jacksonville, Florida. Also in the immediate neighborhood: The highly-regarded Long Cove Club on Hilton Head, the uber-private Ford Plantation south of Savannah in the suburb of Richmond Hill, and the stylish Dye Course at Colleton River Plantation. More recently, Dye created the user-friendly Hampton Hall, like Colleton< River, also in Bluffton, and just last year he redid the somewhat benign Sea Marsh Course in Sea Pines Plantation into a fearsome resort test now known as Heron Point.
However Dye’s international legacy extends far beyond the Carolina Lowcountry. A wide-ranging “Who’s Who” list includes Whistling Straits in Wisconsin, Teeth of the Dog in the Dominican Republic, PGA West’s Stadium and Mountain Courses, in California, Oak Tree in Oklahoma, Crooked Stick in Indiana, The Honors Course in Tennessee, and Bulle Rock in Maryland. There are nearly a hundred more. Add in the work of his two sons, Perry and P.B., and his nephews and niece, and the list of Dye designs swells to more than 250 courses, in all corners of the globe.
Being chosen by the Dyes themselves from among nearly one thousand potential candidates (the total membership of the Golf Writers Association of America) to conceive and execute this 300+ page, full-color celebration of Pete’s career is the unquestioned highlight of my ten-year writing career, and can best be described as a metallurgical medley--a golden opportunity, platinum frequent flyer status, and an iron game that disappointed me from coast to coast and beyond.
For me, 2007 was all Dye, all Day, and has been the culmination, at least to this point, of a writing career that began when I answered a classified ad in the Savannah Morning News in the autumn of 1997. The seven words that pin-balled me in a different direction: “Wanted—Golf writer for Hilton Head newspaper.” My regular newspaper column (currently seen in Bluffton Today) eventually led to a steady stream of regional magazine features, including the periodical you are currently reading. Then I got a toehold in the door at Sports Illustrated, which led to assignments in many major golf and airline publications. The first book came out in ’03, on the golf-rich Carolina Lowcountry and greater Savannah. The second book arrived in ’05 (Charlestonarea golf) and two more books (humorous in nature) in ’05 and ’06. Like an acting hopeful who begins in regional theater, my publishing houses went successively from the sticks of South Carolina, then to Kansas City, Ann Arbor, and finally, with this latest effort, New York.
Pete Dye is a genius, a workaholic, a visionary, an octogenarian giant in the game of golf. In fact, he’s being inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame this November. Getting to know him and Alice a little bit during the making of this book was truly a pleasure. It was a shockingly fortuitous happenstance to be given the opportunity to chronicle his collected body of work, and I will always be indebted to Pete and the Dye family.
Excerpted from Joel Zuckerman’s third book—“Misfits on the Links.” Visit www.vagabondgolfer.com for more information or to order personalized copies