A golf legend who designed courses with her husband Pete, Alice Dye died Friday at the age of 91. Here’s a look at five of the top Dye courses in the world, according to Golfweek’s Ran Morrissett.
1. Harbour Town, South Carolina
The two most influential courses built in America since World War II are Harbour Town and Sand Hills (built by Ben Crenshaw and Dye protégé Bill Coore). In consultation with fellow Buckeye native Jack Nicklaus, Dye fashioned a course in 1969 with nice elbow driving holes and smallish greens that were the antithesis of the brutishly long courses that were the norm of the time. After a who’s who of players won the event, Harbour Town became prized for its variety and thoughtful shot-making requirements. Diminutive holes like the ninth and 13th proved that you could frustrate even the best with their imaginative green configurations. Though the high to low point at Harbour Town is a mere 6 feet, that didn’t stop Dye and Nicklaus from fashioning a slew of all-world holes including Nos. 4, 8, 9, 13, and its famous four-hole closing stretch. As a statement of its design greatness, it has stood the test of time with remarkable ease and grace, despite hosting an annual PGA Tour event.
2. Ocean Course at Kiawah
Opened one year prematurely for the 1991 Ryder Cup, the course nonetheless proved to be a thrilling host site. As it approaches its 30th birthday, the course has matured beautifully and like all Dye courses, it enjoys a fierce reputation though is wonderfully playable from the 6,300-yard range. The addition of five acres of short grass around the greens helped to add a different playing dimension to what the 1991 contestants faced, while making the course more enjoyable for the 10-handicap player. Given the quality of his green sites, the great mistake most golfers make in playing a Dye course is to play from one set of tees too far back. Move forward and have fun. Trust us, you will never hear someone say the 14th was too easy from 160 yards.
3. Blackwolf Run (River), Wisconsin
Pete Dye made a name for himself in the 1980s and 1990s by building many courses in Florida on land that was poorly suited for golf, demonstrating time and time again that he could build something from nothing. However, what goes underappreciated is that he excelled with good land. Be it The Golf Club or here in Kohler, Dye had a fine ability to route holes in a manner that included a property’s best natural features. Its sister course, Whistling Straits, has become more famous, but that doesn’t mean it is better.
4. Casa De Campo, Dominican Republic
This mid-1970s gem features a favorite routing ploy of Dye’s, namely a loose figure 8 with the nines returning to the clubhouse. He later used it to great effect at The Ocean Course at Kiawah and Whistling Straits, both also located by large bodies of water. Here, the ocean holes sear their way into the player’s memory forever, though in truth the interior holes are better at Kiawah and Whistling Straits. Nonetheless, the low-profile, muted features lend the Teeth of the Dog a timeless charm that perfectly reflects its idyllic Caribbean setting.
5. Fowler’s Mill, Ohio
As Dye grew in fame, so did the price to play many of his courses. Yet, as people, Alice and Pete Dye never took airs and always enjoyed being around those who liked to have dirt under their nails. Thus, it would be a shame to only list glamour courses as that does a disservice to the couple’s Midwest sensibilities. Welcome to Fowler’s Mill, where a round can be had for $45 to $75. Originally built to be a private club for the employees of TRW, this course weaves up and down the rolling hills east of Cleveland and past natural water features. The same guy that built Harbour Town built this inland gem in the same timeframe and the split fairways at Nos. 9 and 12 tell you that someone special was here. Talk about value for money (!) and it is now open to all.
Here’s more on Golfweek’s best courses, including state-by-state lists, top resort courses and much more.