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Why are Pete Dye courses so popular


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I don't know about ya'll, but I avoid Pete Dye courses like the plague..  Design after design is nothing more then a railroad tie infested tricked out course that penalizes people for the most minor mistakes.. I'm curious what everyone sees in them, other then a 7,000 yrd putt putt..

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Good topic... course designers, and likes and dislikes.  I am not a Dye fan in general.  Give me Robert Trent Jones over Pete Dye.  But some Fazios are really special as well.  There are many great designers and the ones that create lasting tests over time are really worthy of accolades.

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http://www.peninsulagolf.com/about.html

https://kearneyhillgl.com/Photos.php?aa=0&si0;=4


Those are the two Dye courses in Kentucky.  I haven't played either but everyone raves about Kearney Hills(its even hosted the Champions Tour until 1997) but I will play Peninsula this year.  It doesn't look "tricked out"...just will make you think about the shot you're playing instead of gripping and ripping.

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Well I dont think I would go as far as calling a Pete Dye course a Putt Putt. Its just another style of golf course. Some of his designs are a little out there and he builds a typical target style golf course. You have to think and play his layouts more then once to understand them. They still beat your usual resort style courses that have 80 yards wide fairways with no rough, where hacks can shoot a 78. Pete Dye is alright in my eyes.

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As an Indiana boy I have played several of Dye's designs.  His genius is lost on the average player.  He incorporates things in his courses that would baffle most golfers and hence they just don't get it.  I love nearly every course he has designed.  Some of the more notable elements would be greens that are damned hard to read and he also has a knack for getting the player to play where he wants you to play.  TPC at Sawgrass has an element of go low or shoot a million.  I personally like that, if you hit where you're supposed to you should have some risk reward for that.  That's what his courses do.  He says hit it here and you'll be rewarded, hit there and God help you.  It sure beats the typical bland nature of many designers.

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Originally Posted by ND Fan

His genius is lost on the average player.  He incorporates things in his courses that would baffle most golfers and hence they just don't get it.

Care to cite some examples?  I'm mostly interested in the "incorporates things in his courses that would baffle most golfers and hence they just don't get it" portion of it.  On its face, it's a terribly condescending statement.  But if you can offer some specific examples, it would be kind of a cool discussion to take this statement beyond a cheeky cliche.

Edit to add - I'll take the Contrarian view and offer one example of what bristles me the wrong way in some of Dye's features - the 13th at The Players this weekend.  Davis Love III's lag putt in his final round was one of those types of shots that reward luck more than skill.  He had to putt about 90 degs away from the hole, bring the ball to almost a dead stop at the top of the ridge, and hope the fall line of the putt might catch the hole.  It wasn't a particularly hard putt to read.  Any mere mortal could read what that putt would do - it didn't take the eye of a PGA pro to read it.  The best he could do was get lucky.  It wasn't far off from one of those putt-putt putts where a 6 yr-old could mindlessly whack the ball toward the top of a ridge, catch it right, and make a breathtaking hole-in-one.  Frankly, I like to see a little less luck involved in a long lag putt like that.  Yes, I know the mantra is 'the Pros know not to miss it there', but it just seems silly to make portions of the green beyond difficult - more toward punitive.  An 80 ft triple-breaker is more interesting to watch and hope for some drama as it reached the hole than watching Davis' putt slowly creep down the fall line of the green into basically a catch basin for lag putts.  In that respect, I think sometimes Dye takes the excitement of 'the scramble' out of the game.  JMHO

That was true of 17's 3rd round pin placement too, when you think of it.  We watched as dozens of shots hit up the embankment, spun slightly, and trickled back toward the hole.  Most weren't all that exciting to watch because the pace of the fall was so slow and tedious that you could predict almost certainly whether or not the ball would be near enough the hole to fall in just as it started its trickle downward.  FWIW, I think watching a one or two-hop kerplunk hole-in-one or near-miss has a little more excitement to it.

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Originally Posted by NEOHMark

Care to cite some examples?  I'm mostly interested in the "incorporates things in his courses that would baffle most golfers and hence they just don't get it" portion of it.  On its face, it's a terribly condescending statement.  But if you can offer some specific examples, it would be kind of a cool discussion to take this statement beyond a cheeky cliche.

Edit to add - I'll take the Contrarian view and offer one example of what bristles me the wrong way in some of Dye's features - the 13th at The Players this weekend.  Davis Love III's lag putt in his final round was one of those types of shots that reward luck more than skill.  He had to putt about 90 degs away from the hole, bring the ball to almost a dead stop at the top of the ridge, and hope the fall line of the putt might catch the hole.  It wasn't a particularly hard putt to read.  Any mere mortal could read what that putt would do - it didn't take the eye of a PGA pro to read it.  The best he could do was get lucky.  It wasn't far off from one of those putt-putt putts where a 6 yr-old could mindlessly whack the ball toward the top of a ridge, catch it right, and make a breathtaking hole-in-one.  Frankly, I like to see a little less luck involved in a long lag putt like that.  Yes, I know the mantra is 'the Pros know not to miss it there', but it just seems silly to make portions of the green beyond difficult - more toward punitive.  An 80 ft triple-breaker is more interesting to watch and hope for some drama as it reached the hole than watching Davis' putt slowly creep down the fall line of the green into basically a catch basin for lag putts.  In that respect, I think sometimes Dye takes the excitement of 'the scramble' out of the game.  JMHO

That was true of 17's 3rd round pin placement too, when you think of it.  We watched as dozens of shots hit up the embankment, spun slightly, and trickled back toward the hole.  Most weren't all that exciting to watch because the pace of the fall was so slow and tedious that you could predict almost certainly whether or not the ball would be near enough the hole to fall in just as it started its trickle downward.  FWIW, I think watching a one or two-hop kerplunk hole-in-one or near-miss has a little more excitement to it.


You are out of your mind if you think any average golfer could walk up to that putt and lag it any where near the hole. You stated that he had to hit it to a dead stop and "hope" the fall line would take it to the hole. I can tell you one thing is for sure an amateur golfer would "hope" the fall line take it to hole Davis Love knew the fall line would take it. One thing about Dye's courses especially the greens you know have to know where to hit your shot to avoid an instant bogey.

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I'm kind of on the fence with TPC at Sawgrass.  I'll all for a tough design and challenging the pro's but the shots Phil and GMac hit shouldn't have ended up in the water.   When shots like that get wet it places a greater emphasis on luck than skill.

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I played a Pete Dye course in the Dominican Republic.

It was the hardest golf course I have ever played. It was actually f*cking annoying TBH lol

Oooo I hit the dead center of the green but since I can't put spin on the ball I rolled off the back! I am 200 out on a par 4 480 yards, but I can't run my ball to the green because there are bunkers in front of it and I can;'t land the green because there is no man alive that can put enough spin on a 200 yard shot.

Bunkers everywhere, elevated greens that are fast, undulated and rock hard, weird tee boxes, huge dog legs, sloping fairways....it was unreal

I think I shot 112 - which is way out of my normal 80-90 scores.

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  • 2 months later...

Hampton Hall Golf Course in Bluffton, SC. My parents have a house there, have played it several times and the course is unbelievable!! Very "average-player" friendly and yes it does have some of those holes that would baffle some players, but nothing out of the ordinary.

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I'm back revisiting this topic as I had just played another Pete course this past week.. It was one of his older courses before he started loading them up with steroids.. LOL  My biggest issue with Pete's more current designs is that its' VERY target golf oriented and I hate that design philosophy for the most part, because it penalizes you for the littlest of things from tee to green.. So often you might let a drive slip into the rough.. NO surprise there.. However because it's target golf you are forced to carry a shot to the next target landing area.. Very hard to do, considering you might be under some tree branches or have a direction issue.. Basically saying.. IF you miss the first target area off the tee, you are penalized all the way to the green because you are now fighting to make up for it.. Very unfair in my book.. There are many times I may have pulled a drive into the rough and the only way to get my approach shot close, is to hit a low draw runner below tree branches..  Pete's courses of late will not allow that type of play..

Anyways, The older Pete courses I can live with.. no bad designs.. but his current stuff like Whistling Straits.. grrrrrrr  can we bozer that thing and call, "Do over"?  lol

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I've only played one of his courses once, TPC Virginia Beach (now VB National), and did surprisingly well there.  Didn't seem too crazy to me or maybe I was just on that day.  I liked it well enough.

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I've played Stonebridge McKinney, TX and it is a great course. I like his use of sight lines, fairway bunkering, and water hazards. I'm not a fan of some of his other design elements--greens that break away from water and breaking toward visual high points and completely surrounding a green with sand on a par 4. I really like the looks of Harbour Town on the TV. He isn't my favorite architect with the last name "Dye", that would be Ken Dye (no relation) The reason he has been popular: He is the product of manufactured stardom. PGA Tour Commissioner Dean Beman wanted a PGA Tour owned "championship" and created The Players. He selected Pete Dye to design TPC Sawgrass to hold the event every year. Several prominent pros, including Nicklaus, were highly critical of TPS Sawgrass' design and playing conditions. Upon winning the inaugural event, Jerry Pate forces Beman and Dye to jump into the lake on 18=instant stardom for Pete Dye. This might have been one of the few times where the architect more so than the course became the story. So now, when a land developer wants a "big name" architect to design the property's golf course, Pete Dye is at the top of the list.
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Very well put uttexas..

I've just always viewed golf courses the same as sculpture..  You don't put together a Venus de Milo, it was already there, all the artist did was remove the excess..  Same with golf.. You don't ADD to the land to create something that wasn't naturally there, you just chip away unneeded extras.. It's probably why I love natural links type courses, like St. Andrews and most of Augusta National..

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Originally Posted by ThominOH

Very well put uttexas..

I've just always viewed golf courses the same as sculpture..  You don't put together a Venus de Milo, it was already there, all the artist did was remove the excess..  Same with golf.. You don't ADD to the land to create something that wasn't naturally there, you just chip away unneeded extras.. It's probably why I love natural links type courses, like St. Andrews and most of Augusta National..


Well Augusta National is barely the same course other than routing from when Jones and Mckenzie built it 75 or so years ago. It was meant to be a St Andrews style course where you had options as to which side of the fairway to hit your drive, the safe or risky side. If you chose the safe side your approach would be difficult and the risky side would give you a better angle to the green. Now it doesn't matter as much but you still have to land your approach to the right part of the green.

I've played a few Dye courses, Brickyard Crossing and Radrick farms, both many years ago so my memories are fuzzy. I don't remember either being penal or overly sculpted. I remember Brickyard Crossing having the most interesting greens I can remember. They were great and very deceptive.

Also, TPC Sawgrass was not originally meant to be a beautifully manicured course. It was supposed to be scruffy around the edges but the pros didn't like that so it was changed.

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I have played many Dye courses.  My standard when deciding upon where to play when I'm in an area I'm not knowledgable about is typically the slope rating of the course.  For instance if you found yourself at Barefoot Resort in Myrtle Beach which has 4 courses Dye, Love, Norman, Fazio.....And you could only play one....Which would you play?  The Dye from the back is a 149 slope. None of the others is over a 140.  I would play the Dye.  It is my experience the best courses tend to be the toughest as measured by slope.  Slightly exaggerated but a very good single criteria rating basis.....When you travel all over and play you also will find that there really is nothing new to anything Pete Dye has ever done in any of his designs. I have had pleasure to play Prestwick in Scotland several times.  Prestwick was the host to The British Open the first 16 times they played it.  It is a fabulous course but just doesn't have the space to hold a current Open Championship as it is hard against the water and town and there just isn't space to put all the stuff of a current championship......But what you will find are RR ties in the ground to assist with holding sandy soil in place....And they were used well over a 100 years ago.  And some of them are placed vertically not horizontally....As a pure analysis of Dye vs other designers.....I don't know if I would put Dye in my top 10 even. Of currently alive designers,maybe in the top 5. But big bonus points for mentoring Doak....

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God i hate Dye's courses, its all target golf, lots of water, pain in the ass golf. The reason he's so popular is because he designed TPC Sawgrass, and he was revolutionary in his golf course architecture. But i find his courses only visually appealing, and not really fun to play.

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