No man is an island, and the saying goes for golf course architect Pete Dye, too. The island green on the PLAYERS Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass may be to Dye what Stairway to Heaven is to Led Zeppelin: don't let the epic hit keep you from enjoying some of the deeper cuts.
No golf course architect has a more distinctive look to their courses than Dye's, which feature wicked pot bunkers, railroad ties and generally smallish greens that are well protected by mounds and collection areas. He is largely credited for bridging the gap between the more traditional golf course design that ended with Robert Trent Jones Sr., and spawned a new era of modern construction and design principals. His family tree of architects to work for him and then go on to their own careers is unprecedented.
Ginella on the Pete Dye family tree of golf course architects
Some architects may try and set up a hole to look appealing from the tee for the average golfer. Dye generally tends to go the other direction.
"He wants you to be uncomfortable, he wants you to feel a little awkward," said Geoff Shackelford in this Morning Drive segment on Dye's design principals. Dye, who won the Indiana Amateur Championship and also qualified for the U.S. Open before his design career, seeks to identify the best golfers by rewarding those who take the most risks.
"The closer you play to trouble," said John Cook. "The easier your approach shot is going to be into these really small sections of greens you have to put the ball into He visually tries to intimidate you."
With that in mind, the Golf Advisor Staff and I have gone through our favorite publicly accessible Pete Dye golf course designs we've played to select our favorite 18 holes. The catch? None can be an island green, a hole template that has certainly been replicated by Dye and other architects through the years. We've also only selected one hole per course. We also limited the amount of 18th holes to feature, since often times they are a long and watery dogleg par 4. You'll find a few selections from his home state of Indiana, as well as the Destination Kohler golf resort mecca, home to four championship courses split between Blackwolf Run and Whistling Straits. The Straits Course, a 2010 and 2015 PGA Championship host, will also host the 2020 Ryder Cup Matches (the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island Resort hosted the famed 1991 "War by the Shore" Ryder Cup and 2012 PGA Championship).
We've done our best to find a variety of hole designs, from short to long, in all sorts of topographies, that employ some combination of beauty, strategy and high, Dye-style drama. There are high-end golf resort courses plus some more affordable daily-fee golf clubs.