Pete Dye Father of Golf Courses

By Adam BarrMay 6, 2007, 4:00 pm
The great mans advance team strode in and cased the joint. She sniffed, drew herself up to her full 22 inches, and commenced to pace around the room.
 
From the hallway came a growl.
 
Sixty! Get out here and siddown.
 
It was the Great Man. Sixty, a two-year-old white German Shepherd, reluctantly sauntered into the hall and returned with her master, golf course architect Pete Dye. He had agreed to meet me for a sit-down interview to support a show I was producing on the latest changes at TPC Sawgrass.
 
Pete Dye
Pete Dye titled his autobiogrphy, 'Bury Me in a Pot Bunker.' (WireImage)
It was about two in a blazing hot south Florida afternoon; we had sought air-conditioned refuge in the Education Center of the PGA of Americas excellent facility in Port St. Lucie.
 
Dye, 81, had already put in the kind of day that would floor a younger, less vigorous man (or dog). He and Sixty had been to Gasparilla Golf Club in west Florida, and had been flown over to St. Lucie to see me. After we were done, he still had work to do. He looked neither wilted nor deterred.
 
While I am often portrayed today as a wicked designer from hell, I am in fact from the quiet midwestern town of Urbana, Ohio, wrote Dye with Mark Shaw in Bury Me in a Pot Bunker, his 1995 autobiography.
 
This time of year, just before THE PLAYERS Championship begins, the specter of Dye as Great Satan, not Great Man, reemerges as the best in the world try to figure and refigure TPC Sawgrass, one of his most notable creations.
 
Today he will discuss with me why it was necessary to peel back the turf on that course, scrape out a quarter centurys accumulation of organic muck, and replace it with fast-draining white sand. (You can see the whole process in the new Golf Channel special, TPC Sawgrass: A New Era, Wednesday, May 9th at 9 p.m. ET)
 
What may be most frustrating to those who love to hate Dye is the fact they all know: far from being evil, Pete Dye is one of the best things that ever happened to golf ' for tours, fans, and yes, players, even those who have to brain-wrack their way around some of his exceedingly difficult tests.
 
If Alice (his wife and a fine player and architect in her own right) ever divorced me, my staff would drop to exactly zero, Dye said as the microphone was being clipped on, Sixty finally recumbent at his feet.
 
So it has ever been.
 
If its hoopla in any way, Dye is not interested. No cell phone, no entourage, no drawings except what can be scrawled on the nearest surface at hand with whatever is available ' usually a stick and some dirt, on-site. (A new painting of Dye in the new clubhouse at Sawgrass shows him in just this mode ' the usual khaki pants, blue golf shirt, and ball cap, stick in hand, drawing brilliance on the desert floor. If he did cave paintings, we could be sure golf would survive eons into the future.)
 
Hoopla aversion aside, the man has a sense of drama. To best demonstrate to PGA TOUR Commissioner Tim Finchem how 25 years had undermucked Sawgrass, Dye brought the course to Finchem ' a couple Dixie cups worth, anyway.
 
I took out a big plug [of turf] and put it on his desk, one Sunday afternoon, Dye said, his tone implying the question, Well, how the hell else would you do it? Finchem corroborates the story. When Dye asked if he could clean up the desk, Finchem said no; he wanted his staff to see this.
 
The redone Sawgrass that will welcome the first PLAYERS in May will play hard and fast, as Dye originally intended, thanks to the process begun by Dyes plug of turf. The course-wide six inches of new sand under the turf will drain much better, keeping the course from getting like Velcro for golf balls if rains come.
 
When Pete designs a golf course, its like one of his kids, Finchem said. He has to keep an eye on it, he wants to take care of it.
 
That includes giving the kids a good start in life. When the interview was over and my cameraman and I began to disassemble the equipment, Dye said he needed to borrow me for 10 minutes.
 
We got in the car and drove a mile to the Dye Course at PGA Golf Club. Here; stop here. Theres a break in the trees, Dye told our driver. I followed him onto the first fairway just short of the green, where the land gently sloped down then up again to the green, framed by a long bunker with a high lip. How did this get done in south Florida flatland?
 
We just pushed some things around gently, Dye said as he walked purposefully up the fairway. Nothing major. But look, he said, pointing to the side. Were actually below the bottom of those cypresses in the woods over there. We were able to scoop this out just a little to get that effect. But here, this is what I really wanted you to see. Lemme get the sumgun offa here.
 
By now, all 81 spry years of Pete Dye were on his knees in the fairway, forcing off a six-inch drain cover and shoving his arm in up to the shoulder. I mean, the man used to walk around the Sawgrass construction site shirtless and machete rattlesnakes in the late 1970s. So whats one more water moccasin in a drainpipe, right?
 
No snakes this time. Well, were in a drought, so the water is down a bit, Dye said, bringing up a dry hand. But look at this course. Not burned out, but were not breaking the bank on irrigation either. Let me show you why.
 
We walked behind the cypresses to the side of the green and he opened a huge steel door that was almost flush with the ground. Fifteen feet below, water rippled in a cistern.
 
All recycled irrigation, he said. Used over and over. Caught in that drain, along with the danged rain when we can get it, and reused. There are more of these on the course. This is how it should be done. I keep tellin em, what with the cost of water and maintenance these days, and environmental concerns and all. Here, they listened. The PGA people who are in there now; they didnt even know they had this. When I showed em, it was a revelation, you can be sure. They were pleasantly surprised.
 
He closed the door with a bang, then looked around at the contours of the first green and the expansive view from the second tee. Some of the best work Ive ever done. Right here.
 
It takes a real great man, I suppose, to check on the kids once theyve grown up.
 
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The missing link: Advice from successful tour pros

By Phil BlackmarJanuary 20, 2018, 1:24 am

Today’s topic is significant in that it underscores the direction golf is headed, a direction that has me a little concerned.

Now, more than ever, it has become the norm for PGA Tour players to put together a team to assist in all aspects of their career. These teams can typically include the player’s swing coach, mental coach, manager, workout specialist, dietician, physical therapist, short-game guru, doctor, accountant, nanny and wife. Though it often concerns me the player may be missing out when others are making decisions for them, that is not the topic.

I want to talk about what most players seem to be inexplicably leaving off their teams.

One of the things that separates great players from the rest of the pack – other than talent – is the great player’s ability to routinely stay comfortable and play with focus and clarity in all situations. Though innate to many, this skill is trainable and can be learned. Don’t get too excited, the details of such a plan are too long and more suited for a book than the short confines of this article.

So, if that aspect of the game is so important, where is the representative on the player’s team who has stood on the 18th tee with everything on the line? Where is the representative on the team who has experienced, over and over, what the player will be experiencing? In other words, where is the successful former tour player on the team?

You look to tennis and many players have such a person on their team. These teacher/mentors include the likes of Boris Becker, Ivan Lendl, Jimmy Connors and Brad Gilbert. Why is it not the norm in golf?

Sure, a few players have sought out the advice of Jack Nicklaus, but he’s not part of a team. The teaching ranks also include some former players like Butch Harmon and a few others. But how many teams include a player who has contended in a major, let alone won one or more?

I’m not here to argue the value and knowledge of all the other coaches who make up a player’s team. But how can the value of a successful tour professional be overlooked? If I’m going to ask someone what I should do in various situations on the course, I would prefer to include the experienced knowledge of players who have been there themselves.

This leads me to the second part of today’s message. Is there a need for the professional players to mix with professional teachers to deliver the best and most comprehensive teaching philosophy to average players? I feel there is.

Most lessons are concerned with changing the student’s swing. Often, this is done with little regard for how it feels to the student because the teacher believes the information is correct and more important than the “feels” of the student. “Stick with it until it’s comfortable” is often the message. This directive methodology was put on Twitter for public consumption a short time back:

On the other hand, the professional player is an expert at making a score and understands the intangible side of the game. The intangible side says: “Mechanics cannot stand alone in making a good player.” The intangible side understands “people feel things differently”; ask Jim Furyk to swing like Dustin Johnson, or vice versa. This means something that looks good to us may not feel right to someone else.

The intangible side lets us know that mechanics and feels must walk together in order for the player to succeed. From Ben Hogan’s book:

“What I have learned I have learned by laborious trial and error, watching a good player do something that looked right to me, stumbling across something that felt right to me, experimenting with that something to see if it helped or hindered, adopting it if it helped, refining it sometimes, discarding it if it didn’t help, sometimes discarding it later if it proved undependable in competition, experimenting continually with new ideas and old ideas and all manner of variations until I arrived at a set of fundamentals that appeared to me to be right because they accomplished a very definite purpose, a set of fundamentals which proved to me they were right because they stood up and produced under all kinds of pressure.”

Hogan beautifully described the learning process that could develop the swings of great players like DJ, Furyk, Lee Trevino, Jordan Spieth, Nicklaus, etc.

Bob Toski is still teaching. Steve Elkington is helping to bring us the insight of Jackie Burke. Hal Sutton has a beautiful teaching facility outside of Houston. And so on. Just like mechanics and feels, it’s not either-or – the best message comes from both teachers and players.

Lately, it seems the scale has swung more to one side; let us not forget the value of insights brought to us by the players who have best mastered the game.

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Woods, Rahm, Rickie, J-Day headline Torrey field

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 20, 2018, 12:47 am

Tiger Woods is set to make his 2018 debut.

Woods is still part of the final field list for next week’s Farmers Insurance Open, the headliner of a tournament that includes defending champion Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Phil Mickelson and Jason Day.

In all, 12 of the top 26 players in the world are teeing it up at Torrey Pines.

Though Woods has won eight times at Torrey Pines, he hasn’t broken 71 in his past seven rounds there and hasn’t played all four rounds since 2013, when he won. Last year he missed the cut after rounds of 76-72, then lasted just one round in Dubai before he withdrew with back spasms.

After a fourth back surgery, Woods didn’t return to competition until last month’s Hero World Challenge, where he tied for ninth. 

Woods has committed to play both the Farmers Insurance Open and next month's Genesis Open at Riviera, which benefits his foundation. 

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Even on 'off' day, Rahm shoots 67 at CareerBuilder

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 20, 2018, 12:36 am

Jon Rahm didn’t strike the ball as purely Friday as he did during his opening round at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

He still managed a 5-under 67 that put him just one shot off the lead heading into the weekend.

“I expected myself to go to the range (this morning) and keep flushing everything like I did yesterday,” said Rahm, who shot a career-low 62 at La Quinta on Thursday. “Everything was just a little bit off. It was just one of those days.”


Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


After going bogey-free on Thursday, Rahm mixed four birdies and two bogeys over his opening six holes. He managed to settle down around the turn, then made two birdies on his final three holes to move within one shot of Andrew Landry (65).

Rahm has missed only five greens through two rounds and sits at 15-under 129. 

The 23-year-old Spaniard won in Dubai to end the year and opened 2018 with a runner-up finish at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. He needs a top-6 finish or better this week to supplant Jordan Spieth as the No. 2 player in the world.

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Landry stays hot, leads desert shootout at CareerBuilder

By Associated PressJanuary 20, 2018, 12:35 am

LA QUINTA, Calif. – Andrew Landry topped the crowded CareerBuilder Challenge leaderboard after another low-scoring day in the sunny Coachella Valley.

Landry shot a 7-under 65 on Thursday on PGA West's Jack Nicklaus Tournament Course to reach 16 under. He opened with a 63 on Thursday at La Quinta Country Club.

''Wind was down again,'' Landry said. ''It's like a dome out here.''

Jon Rahm, the first-round leader after a 62 at La Quinta, was a stroke back. He had two early bogeys in a 67 on the Nicklaus layout.

''It's tough to come back because I feel like I expected myself to go to the range and keep just flushing everything like I did yesterday,'' Rahm said. ''Everything was just a little bit off.''

Jason Kokrak was 14 under after a 67 at Nicklaus. Two-time major champion Zach Johnson was 13 under along with Michael Kim and Martin Piller. Johnson had a 64 at Nicklaus.


Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


Landry, Rahm, Kokrak and Johnson will finish the rotation Saturday at PGA West's Stadium Course, also the site of the final round.

''You need to hit it a lot more accurate off the tee because being in the fairway is a lot more important,'' Rahm said about the Pete Dye-designed Stadium Course, a layout the former Arizona State player likened to the Dye-designed Karsten course on the school's campus. ''With the small greens, you have water in play. You need to be more precise. Clearly the hardest golf course.''

Landry pointed to the Saturday forecast.

''I think the wind's supposed to be up like 10 to 20 mph or something, so I know that golf course can get a little mean,'' Landry said. ''Especially, those last three or four holes.''

The 30-year-old former Arkansas player had five birdies in a six-hole stretch on the back nine. After winning his second Web.com Tour title last year, he had two top-10 finishes in October and November at the start the PGA Tour season.

''We're in a good spot right now,'' Landry said. ''I played two good rounds of golf, bogey-free both times, and it's just nice to be able to hit a lot of good quality shots and get rewarded when you're making good putts.''

Rahm had four birdies and the two bogeys on his first six holes. He short-sided himself in the left bunker on the par-3 12th for his first bogey of the week and three-putted the par-4 14th – pulling a 3-footer and loudly asking ''What?'' – to drop another stroke.

''A couple of those bad swings cost me,'' Rahm said.

The top-ranked player in the field at No. 3 in the world, Rahm made his first par of the day on the par-4 16th and followed with five more before birdieing the par-5 fourth. The 23-year-old Spaniard also birdied the par-5 seventh and par-3 eighth.

''I had close birdie putts over the last four holes and made two of them, so I think that kind of clicked,'' said Rahm, set to defend his title next week at Torrey Pines.

He has played the par 5s in 9 under with an eagle and seven birdies.

Johnson has taken a relaxed approach to the week, cutting his practice to two nine-hole rounds on the Stadium Course.

''I'm not saying that's why I'm playing well, but I took it really chill and the golf courses haven't changed,'' Johnson said. ''La Quinta's still really pure, right out in front of you, as is the Nicklaus.''

Playing partner Phil Mickelson followed his opening 70 at La Quinta with a 68 at Nicklaus to get to 6 under. The 47-year-old Hall of Famer is playing his first tournament of since late October.

''The scores obviously aren't what I want, but it's pretty close and I feel good about my game,'' Mickelson said. ''I feel like this is a great place to start the year and build a foundation for my game. It's easy to identify the strengths and weaknesses. My iron play has been poor relative to the standards that I have. My driving has been above average.''

Charlie Reiter, the Palm Desert High School senior playing on a sponsor exemption, had a 70 at Nicklaus to match Mickelson at 6 under. The Southern California recruit is playing his first PGA Tour event. He tied for 65th in the Australian Open in November in his first start in a professional tournament.