Legendary golf course architect Pete Dye, whose designs have played host to dozens of USGA championships, died on Jan. 9 in Gulf Stream, Fla., 12 days after turning 94. His death comes 11 months after he lost his wife, Alice, a two-time U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur champion and a collaborator on many of her husband’s iconic courses.
“Pete made a lasting impact on the game with his truly innovative style of golf course design,” said Mike Davis, CEO of the USGA. “He will be greatly missed, and he and Alice will always hold a special place in our history books.”
Many of Dye’s layouts are recognizable for their pot bunkers, bulwarks, small greens, railroad ties and other features he discovered in a transformational visit to Scottish links courses in 1963. His courses are also highly challenging, earning Dye monikers such as Marquis de Sod and Dye-abolical. In perfect Dye character, he once said of his design philosophy, “Life is not fair, so why should I make a course that is fair?” He also said, “The ardent golfer would play Mount Everest if somebody put a flagstick on top.”
Although none of his more than 100 designs has hosted a U.S. Open, layouts such as Blackwolf Run, in Kohler, Wis.; Crooked Stick, in Carmel, Ind.; Whistling Straits, in Haven, Wis.; Oak Tree National, in Edmond, Okla.; and The Honors Course, in Ooltewah, Tenn., have been the sites of historic USGA championships.
Se Ri Pak registered a seminal moment in U.S. Women’s Open history at Blackwolf Run in 1998, becoming the first Korean to win the championship and touching off a women’s golf revolution in her home country. When the Women’s Open returned to the Wisconsin resort 14 years later, another Korean – Na Yeon Choi – captured the title.
No Dye course has hosted more USGA championships than Crooked Stick, where Pete and Alice had a home. The venue’s six championships include the 1993 U.S. Women’s Open, won by Lauri Merten, and the 2009 U.S. Senior Open, won by Fred Funk.
The Honors Course will match Crooked Stick’s total of six USGA competitions in 2021 when it hosts the U.S. Senior Amateur. The club just outside of Chattanooga was the site of Mitch Voges’ 1991 U.S. Amateur victory as well as nine-time USGA champion Tiger Woods’ lone NCAA individual title in 1996 for Stanford University.
Three other venues – Whistling Straits, Des Moines Golf & Country Club and Oak Tree National – have hosted a U.S. Senior Open, while iconic TPC Sawgrass, in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., site of the annual Players Championship on the PGA Tour, is where Woods memorably claimed the first of his three consecutive U.S. Amateur titles at age 18 in 1994. Alice Dye is credited with the idea for the famous island par-3 17th hole, one of the most recognized holes in the game.