Pete Dye never thought golf was meant to be fair, inspiring him to build courses that were visually intimidating: The island green at TPC Sawgrass. More bunkers than could be counted at Whistling Straits Golf Course.
Dye, among the forefront of modern golf architecture, died Thursday morning. He was 94. His company, Dye Designs, posted the news on its Twitter account. Dye had been suffering from Alzheimer’s.
His golf courses have held four major championships, most recently at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin, which will host the Ryder Cup this year. He also had several courses on the PGA Tour, mostly notably TPC Sawgrass in Florida, where the Stadium Course has held the Players Championship since 1982.
Many of the courses were designed with his wife, Alice, who died in February at 91. She famously suggested to her husband as they were clearing out a swamp at Sawgrass, “Why not just make an island green?”
“He was an icon when it comes to golf course design,” said Brandt Snedeker, who won at the Dye-designed Harbour Town Golf Links in Hilton Head, S.C. “He was a guy who really made you uncomfortable the whole round. And he did it visually. He’d always make you think.
“He’s one of those guys that you respected him because he built some great golf courses,” Snedeker said with a smile. “But in the midst of playing them, you hated his guts.”
His courses were often described as “Dye-abolical“ because of the penalties they could inflict with a bad shot. They were as memorable as they were difficult. Among them was Wisconsin’s Blackwolf Run, where Se Ri Pak won her first U.S. Women’s Open in 1998 at six over par.
Dye was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2008.
PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan called him “one of the most important course architects of this or any generation.”