When Arizona State University closes the Karsten Course in May to make way for development, it will leave just one Pete Dye-designed golf course in the state.
It's a surprising fact considering how large the architect's footprint has been over his career. Truth is, it's hard to travel too far around the continent without running into one of his designs.
The portfolio of Pete and and his late wife Alice Dye garner strong opinions from both pros and amateurs. Whether you love or loathe his distinctive design style - full of sharp angles, small greens, railroad ties, bulkheads - what isn't up for debate is his ability as a builder. His finished work seems to simply hold up over time better than most, and the same can be said for many of his former disciples he mentored early in their careers, like Bill Coore and Tom Doak.
In the destinations where there is a Dye design, that course is typically at or right near the top in terms of the best courses to seek out. Pete has been certainly aware of golf travelers throughout his career, famously writing in his book, Bury me in a pot bunker, "The ardent golfer would play Mount Everest if somebody put a flagstick on top."
And many publicly accessible pro tournament venues were built at the hands of Dye, including major sites Whistling Straits and the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island.
But before you think his courses are too hard for higher handicaps, consider Alice's influence on Pete, ensuring his courses would be receptive and enjoyable - though hardly boring - to those playing the forward tees. As a result, you'll find multiple Dye courses at some of the hemisphere's best golf resorts - Kohler, Casa De Campo, Sea Pines and La Quinta chief among them.
My advice to amateurs taking on Pete's courses? Iron out your two-way miss, get a yardage guide, make a confident swing, and hope for a little luck. Here are seven of the best golf trips you can take to experience the best of Pete and Alice Dye's portfolio.
Kohler, WisconsinRound Trip Feature: Kohler, Wisconsin
There may be no greater endorsement of an architect's work than when a developer chooses to use them again for a follow-up project. Or in the case of Herb Kohler's Wisconsin golf empire, again and again and again. Kohler used Pete Dye and no one else to lay out 36 holes each at Blackwolf Run near the resort and then 36 more to the east on the shores of Lake Michigan.
Kohler famously gave Pete an ample budget for Whistling Straits in particular and Dye delivered 36 holes of wild and towering sculpted and dunesy looking mounds along Lake Michigan. Kohler's faith in Dye has paid off with the Whistling Straits facility becoming a darling of the PGA, with PGA Championships in 2010 and 2015, as well as the 2020 Ryder Cup.
Back inland in Kohler, Blackwolf Run's River Course is one of the highest-regarded parkland modern designs out there. It's infamous for the "dogleg par-3" 13th hole, while strategic options abound on the drivable-but-risky par-4 9th. The other 18, Meadow Valleys, contributed several holes to The U.S. Women's Open composite course in 1998 and 2012.
All told, there may be no 72 holes on earth more tournament tested and demanding than at Kohler; you'll certainly earn your steak dinner or spa treatment at the five-star American Club.
Dominican RepublicTrip Dispatch to Casa De Campo, Dominican Republic
When asked about his best or favorite projects over the years, Pete Dye was often times fondest of his work at Casa De Campo in part because of how much of an impact it would have on the third-world Caribbean island. The headlining course, Teeth of the Dog, is on the short list for the most spectacular Dye design anywhere.
Don't let the course's fearsome name fool you, either. While the little, oceanside par-3 5th hole may be every bit if not more daunting than his island green at Sawgrass, in totality Teeth of the Dog is a mellower side of Dye compared to his late-20th and 21st century stuff, and can be managed by all levels.
Don't sleep on the resort's Dye Fore course, either. It's Marina and Chavon nines are incredibly dramatic with tumbling fairways and long views of the Chavon river and Ocean. It's got five-star shot values and scenery all the way.
As a bonus, you can head up the road to Punta Cana and play La Cana Golf Club, featuring 27 holes, including numerous along the ocean, designed by Pete's son P.B. Dye.
Dye's home state is full of his work, from the prestigious privates (Crooked Stick) to original public and semi-private designs. What makes this trip special is that not only are you on Dye's home turf, but you can play some of his portfolio's most affordable rounds, including The Fort, Brickyard Crossing, and Plum Creek. Dye also lent his expertise for sweeping overhauls of Purdue University's Birck Boilermaker Complex's Allen-Ackerman and Kampen courses, making it one of the finest college facilities in the country.
From the Indianapolis area, you're just about a two-hour drive south to French Lick, where not far from Larry Bird's boyhood home, the lofty Dye Course at French Lick Resort sits on some of the state's highest ground - a fitting place for the Hoosier legend. Paired with the resort's Donald Ross Course (a former PGA Championship host), the pair makes for one of the best old-and-new resort combos for low-handicapping architecture buffs in the country.
The Coachella Valley wouldn't be the same without the Dye family, who have laid out a number of high-profile courses from La Quinta to Rancho Mirage. When he opened the Stadium Course at PGA West in 1987, it made an immediate impression on the world's best, and not in a good way. After just one staging of the Bob Hope, player scorn was so hot it was taken out of the rota until 2016.
While Dye's shaping steals the show at PGA West, his Mountain Course at La Quinta Resort has a unique setting at the base of the Santa Rosa mountains, providing more elevation changes and scenery. Dye also built La Quinta's Dunes Course, providing 54 holes at this gem of a desert retreat.
If you're daunted by the Stadium, you can also venture down the road to Westin Mission Hills Resort, where the Dye course designed in 1987 is considered one of his more playable. (Those with private connections in Palm Springs can inquire about Dye's Hideaway Club, La Quinta Citrus Course and the Challenge Course at Mission Hills Country Club).
To fully celebrate Dye in the Palmetto State, you'll want to hit three separate coastal destinations. Start on Hilton Head Island, where Harbour Town at Sea Pines Resort is the headliner. The charming PGA Tour venue Dye co-designed with the aspiring designer Jack Nicklaus is shining bright these days thanks to a brand new clubhouse and recent renovations to the course (partially a result of hurricane damage).
Dye's Heron Point, which the architect rebuilt for Sea Pines in the late-2000s, is a similarly tactical test even if it lacks the coastal element of Harbour Town and next door Atlantic Dunes, winding through narrow corridors and featuring small and well-protected greens.
Before you head too far from the island, if you have a member connection, the Dye Course at Colleton River in Bluffton is excellent - (in this writer's opinion it's better than the club's acclaimed Nicklaus course).
About two hours north of Hilton Head is Kiawah Island. Each of Kiawah Island Resort's five courses were built by different architects, but there's no disputing the alpha round here: Dye's Ocean Course. The 2012 and 2021 PGA Championship and 1991 Ryder Cup site features an oceanside setting but with small, elevated greens and raised fairways surrounded by native areas and waste bunkers.
Lastly, you can head north to the Grand Strand. Your first stop should be in Georgetown at the Debordieu Club (another private club that offers limited guest access by request). The two public Dye courses in Myrtle Beach are Barefoot Resort's Dye Course and Prestwick Golf Club - each are shaped heavily with plenty of bunkers and railroad ties.
Florida's First Coast
Dye's ability to build golf courses out of inhospitable ground will be one of his great contributions to modern golf architecture. The swampy spot near the north Florida coast the PGA Tour's commissioner Deane Beman chose for the TPC Sawgrass facility was hardly a suitable place for the tour's new temple. But Dye worked his magic on these 415 acres, and here we are decades and countless tinkering and rebuilding later, with this 36-hole property serving as the headquarters to the PGA Tour, complete with one of the game's most lavish clubhouses to go along with one of the most infamous tests of golf you can play.
Even if you don't have the coin for a round on the Stadium course (which can peak over $500), you can receive free guided tours of the clubhouse and memorabilia, or play Dye's Valley Course, which doesn't have the "better than most" memories of the Stadium course but is still plenty challenging enough to host pro events and PGA Tour-player practice rounds.
Just north of Ponte Vedra Beach, Dye also built two courses on Amelia Island. Oak Marsh at Amelia Island Plantation, opened in 1972, showcases Dye's earlier design style. The Ocean Course is currently in a state of flux after resort owners reportedly began bulldozing holes for development without clearance, but the latest order by the judge calls for the course to be restored by October, 2019.
No facility in the Vegas area hosts as many golfers day in, day out as 54-hole Las Vegas Paiute. The three Dye courses play out of two clubhouses and driving ranges. Owned by the Paiute Tribe, it's a rare Vegas golf facility with no residential component, allowing for sweeping mountain and desert views, as well as year-round rye turf thanks to its altitude at 2,800 feet. One of the reasons all three layouts are fixtures in our Golf Advisor Top 50 courses is their $100-179 green fees deliver an equal-if-not-better experience than many $200-plus neighbors. The Wolf, the newest of the trio, is also typically regarded as the widest and most forgiving to amateurs, and gives the golfers a taste of Sawgrass with an island green par 3.