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Arguably no other golf course designer has had more influence on modern course architecture than Pete Dye. With his preference for island greens, pot bunkers and heavy mounding, the American transformed the way we look at golf courses. Legendary venues like Kiawah Island and Whistling Straits feature regularly on the PGA Tour. Let’s have a look at five of his best.
Rated by All square as the best golf course in the Caribbean, ‘Teeth of the Dog‘ is located within the Casa De Campo resort in La Romana, Dominican Republic. Once a rocky wasteland, Dye, alongside his wife Alice, transformed the terrain into a spectacular venue. Now stretching beyond 7,300 yards, and with a regular breeze coming in off the ocean, this is a fearsome challenge from the back tees. It has ocean carries, tricky doglegs and seven holes that are practically sunk into the Caribbean Sea. A true bucket list course, Dye described building it as the “experience of a lifetime”. For golf lovers, playing there will be too.
Set along a windswept stretch of beach in South Carolina, Kiawah Island is home to five outstanding courses. The highlight is the iconic Dye-designed Ocean Course. It opened for play just weeks before staging the 1991 Ryder Cup, and its a testament to the design that the match, known as the ‘War on the Shore’, became one the most memorable in the tournament’s history. Routed along the ocean, with panoramic views of the Atlantic on every hole, the layout is breathtaking, yet punishing. The front nine features tight fairways lined with traps, while the back nine offers more of a links-like experience with ample fairways and greens defended by classic Dye bunkering.
Located off the shore of Lake Michigan, Whistling Straits is comprised of two 18-hole championship golf courses: The Straits and The Irish. These Dye-designed masterpieces continue to be ranked among the top American layouts. Both courses blend so seamlessly with the landscape that it’s hard to believe they haven’t been there for centuries. Opened in 1998, the Straits course hosted the 2004, 2010 and 2015 PGA Championships, and will host the 2020 Ryder Cup. The Straits Course replicates the ancient seaside links courses of Ireland. It has eight holes hugging the lake, vast rolling greens, deep pot bunkers, grass-topped dunes and winds that sweep in. Open to the elements, it will provide a dramatic test once the Ryder bandwagon rolls in.
Home to the PGA Tour headquarters near Jacksonville in Florida, the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass is one of the most iconic golf courses in the world. The first true stadium course, the venue was built specifically to be the home of the Players Championship. This Dye design has played host to golf’s ‘unofficial fifth major’ since 1982. Despite being a championship calibre course, it’s accessible to all levels of player and amateurs will find a balanced layout that tests every aspect of their game. Its signature hole, the island green par-3 17th, is one of golf’s most dramatic holes. The 18th, guarded by water down the left, makes for a formidable finish. Rory McIlroy hit a great shot into the green to claim this year’s title.
Designed by Dye in consultation with Jack Nicklaus in 1969 and redesigned by Dye and his wife Alice in 2011, Harbour Town Links in South Carolina hosts the RBC Heritage each year on the PGA Tour. It’s narrow with overhanging pine trees and oaks littering the fairways lined with punishing rough. The sea alongside also brings in danger and the wind. The course isn’t long, but places a premium on finesse, imagination and shot making. It features a collection of par threes ranked amongst the world’s finest. The signature 18th is a bruising par 4 and one of the most feared closing holes in golf. An intimidating tee shot has a landing area that juts out into the sea and then you’re faced with a long, narrow green protected by a front bunker. The lighthouse that greets you here is reminiscent of the famous one at Turnberry in Scotland.