NEW YORK – Pete Dye never thought golf was meant to be fair, inspiring him to build courses that visually intimidated recreational players to the best in the world.
The island green at the TPC Sawgrass. Railroad ties that gave frightening definition of putting surfaces fronted by water. More bunkers than could be counted at Whistling Straits.
Dye, among the forefront of modern golf architecture, died Thursday morning in the Dominican Republic at age 94, a spokesperson at Dye Design said. He had been battling Alzheimer’s disease for several years.
“You respected him because he built some great golf courses, but in the midst of playing them, you hated his guts,” Brandt Snedeker said with a smile.
His name turned out to be the perfect adjective for his challenging courses — “Dye-abolical.”
Jack Nicklaus said he owes his second career in golf course design to Dye, whom he first met some 50 years ago.
“I think Pete Dye was the most creative, imaginative and unconventional golf course designer I have ever been around,” Nicklaus said. “Pete would try things that nobody else would ever think of doing or certainly try to do, and he was successful at it. If there was a problem to solve, you solved it Pete’s way. In the end, Pete’s way usually turned out to be the right way.”
Greg Norman referred to him as the “Picasso of golf architecture” who changed golf course design in the 20th century.
His golf courses have held four major championships, most recently at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin, which will host the Ryder Cup this year.
“While Pete designed to torment the most accomplished professional, his forward tees allowed the most inexperienced to play,” said Herb Kohler, who brought Dye to Wisconsin to build courses such as Whistling Straits and Blackwolf Run. “He would challenge the professional both physically and mentally, while remarkably accommodating the raw amateur who was learning the game.”