Pete Dye is just one of the most distinct modern day architects. It’s possible to play other courses and know who was the designer based course features, but Pete Dye courses are the most simple to recognize.
Recently I was in Florida and played a few courses around there. The second to last course I played was the Pete Dye course at PGA Village. During the Instagram story , I started commenting on what to expect from a Pete Dye course because of the obviousness of his design. In the image I posted after that round (below) I mentioned some of those same things and compared him to Pablo Picasso which is somewhat random.
Teed it up at the Dye course at PGA Golf Club in Port St. Lucie today. I swear, Pete Dye designed courses are like Picasso art – very distinct, very unique, and easy to know who created the piece just by looking at it. This is the 18th green taken from the fairway, a difficult hole (like tons of final holes are on Dye courses) and a bunch of small bunkers hiding the green from view (another common feature of Dye courses).
Because of how easy it is to know you’re playing a Dye course, I figured it would be useful to write down and add some pics of all of the features of a distinct Dye course. Some of the pictures here are mine, and other I found just poking around on the internet. All of them have links back to where I found them, along with who gets credit for the image itself.
- Wood Planks / Railroad Ties
- Long fairway bunkers between fairway and hazard
- Plenty of Mini Bunkers
- Greenside bunkers with giant lips
- Double dogleg par 5s
- Difficult 18th holes
If you have other pics from Dye courses and want them in this post, hit us up on twitter with them, I’ll post them in here if they’re good and link back to your twitter account as well.
Keep in mind here that these things are not the case with every Dye course in existence. Dye’s original courses were different from the most recent ones, and many of the different parts of his courses came about by copying the ideas from designers before him. He has an interesting article here from a book he wrote outlining his design philosophies. One of his first comments about his philosophy is about Radrick Farms course in Ann Arbor, which I played so many times back when I was on Michigan’s team with practice rounds and even a tournament there my freshman year. When I first thought of Dye courses, I knew that Radrick Farms didn’t exactly fit with these current features, and his comment about the course proves that true.
When we began to build our first important course, the one at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, we favored the style of Robert Trent Jones, the leading architect of the time. We copied his technique of building long tees and large bunkers alongside big sloping greens at the university’s Radrick Farms course.
In another quote from that article he discusses his designs of Crooked Stick where he takes greens from UofM’s main course, an Alister McKenzie design, and uses them on Crooked Stick.
So I got a chance to build back in Indianapolis. Nobody else would hire me, so Alice optioned some ground and raised some money, and we started Crooked Stick. So I brought the two greens from the University of Michigan out there to Crooked Stick, that’s the 14th and 15th, that belonged to Mr. McKenzie
Wood Planks / Railroad Ties
Starting with probably the most well known feature on so many Dye courses is him (or his wife) using planks of wood all over his courses.
Starting with the 13th hole at Harbour Town Golf Links, and using a quote from his speech, Dye made a comment about the start of him using boards on the bunkers.
Going behind all this, I was getting a little back, and my bride was there, Alice was there, and I said, Ally, we’re getting behind and this tournament is coming down the line. I said, there’s a good bulldozer operator named T.P., can you take him over to the 13th hole and do something. So she disappears and goes over there, and I came back three or four days later and here the tees are built and the bunkers are built. And she was smarter than I was, she didn’t use those railroad ties, she put cypress boards outside of the bunker.
And here’s an image of that 13th hole at Harbour Town Golf Links, by Golf Course Gurus.
Considering Harbour Town was one of Dye’s first courses back in 1969, him using boards on the course appear everywhere. Very often in bunkers, but also on greens and fairways as well.
Here’s the 11th hole at Whistling Straits, giant bunker in front of the par 5’s green with wood on the face of the bunker. Note the size of that giant greenside bunker, description of that coming later.
How about the third hole at The Golf Club, New Albany, Ohio? Multiple bunkers, and even space between bunkers is guarded by wood planks.
There are plenty more bunkers on basically every course Dye designs, so again, send pics over on Twitter if you have them from your favorite Dye courses.
Long fairway bunkers between fairway and hazard
Another big, common feature about Dye courses, that isn’t seen too often with other designers, are long and thin fairway bunkers that are between the fairway and a water hazard to one side of a hole. The idea of these bunkers, first off, is that they look very pretty. And second, they somewhat act as a both a guard for a ball not going in the water if it’s rolling in the direction away from the fairway, and acts as a penalty if the ball is landing just in safety after flying over the water.
Time for the PGA Championship, golf’s final major of the year! We’re moving up to the best state in the union, Wisconsin, to watch the best players in the world play at Whistling Straits. Is Jordan Spieth going to win again? Is Tiger going to make the cut? How will Rory do in his first tournament post leg injury? We don’t have the answers to those questions, but we do have some words to get you excited about championship golf! Keep reading.
About the Tournament
Back at the turn of the century, golf in America was really just starting to pick up. Now the PGA Pros back then, and for pretty much the next few decades weren’t pros in the way people think about professional golfers are today. There was no Tour, there weren’t even close to as many tournaments, and the pros were pros in the sense that their day job was to run and manage golf courses (usually private clubs since public courses weren’t really a thing yet). But those guys still liked to compete, and in 1916, the same year that the PGA of America was founded, they held the first PGA Championship.