Punch Shots: Best Pete Dye golf course you've ever played?

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 8, 2012, 7:53 pm

Pete Dye's architecture portfolio is one of the game's best - and certainly the toughest. Our experts weigh in on the best Dye design they've encountered in their golf travels. 

Brandon Tucker: River Course at Blackwolf Run

I've played ten Pete Dye courses by my count (plus a few more P.B. designs), and while playing the TPC Sawgrass last year was a real treat, my favorite can be found up in Kohler, Wisconsin.

It's not high-profile Whistling Straits on Lake Michigan, but the River Course at Blackwolf Run. Dye took a gorgeous parkland setting full of hills and a meandering Sheboygan river and the result is a tough test (like all Dyes) but something far more peaceful and relaxing woodland setting compared to the in-your-face Straits. The early holes feature a few marvelous elevated tee shots and even (gasp!) a couple birdie opportunities for mid-handicappers playing from the right tees.

I adore short par 4s, and one of the best in existence is the River's 9th hole. You have three options off the tee: go for broke over river the entire way with a driver to reach the green, lay up just short with a hybrid (which requires a shot over tall trees) - or bail out way left like a wuss with a 7-iron. You can guess which option I was baited into (and failed miserably) but I can't wait for another crack at this gem.

Dye seems to have a pretty regular formula for his closing holes: hang on. Low handicappers may be able to score on the par-5 16th, but it's topsy-turvy fairway, trouble to the left and tree in front of the green dutifully ate me alive. The 18th here is not all that unlike Sawgrass's closer and ensured I was humbled by round's end. 

The River was recently redesigned in lieu of this year's U.S. Women's Open, and will in all likelihood even better the next time I make it here.

Mike Bailey: Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass

Any discussion of Pete Dye courses certainly begins with his most famous: The Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass. It's best known for the island green 17th, but there is so much more to this course than the cheek-clinching par 3. Home of the so-called fifth major, The PLAYERS Championship, this beast gives the best field in golf fits.

There was a time when the golf community thumbed its nose at Sawgrass. But for many, ever since 1982 Players champion Jerry Pate took the plunge with Dye and then PGA Tour commissioner Deane Beman, The Players Stadium Course is a modern classic. 

By the way, Dye doesn't design courses for every level of player, and this is the perfect example. There's water and forced carries everywhere, and while the high handicapper can enjoy following in the footsteps of the pros, this course was designed to test the best – pure and simple. Most of us can forget about shooting our handicap.

The 17th green was softened somewhat before the 2012 PLAYERS, but that should be of no surprise. This course has been tweaked most every year since it opened in 1981, and in 2007 the course got new greens, subsurface aeration and new grasses.

The 17th is really just part of a great finishing stretch. The 16th is the ultimate risk-reward par 5. The 18th is a monster par 4 with water all down the left, trees to the right and a well-protected green. But really, every hole on this golf course gets your attention. It's never boring, and Dye dictates your shots. Those who challenge him have to be prepared for the consequences, but every once in a while, somebody outsmarts him.

Jason Deegan: Ocean Course at Kiawah Island

The Ocean Course at Kiawah Island is quintessential Pete Dye. It’s bold, beautiful, beastly and just might personify Dye’s devious brand of architecture more than any other course he’s done.

Dramatic theatre introduced the Ocean course to the world at the 'War by the Shore' Ryder Cup in 1991. In 2011, Golf Digest ranked the Ocean course No. 1 as the toughest course in America. From one day to the next, there can be an eight-club change in the winds that swirl along the eastern-most shore of the island.

Dye continues to fiddle with the design, much like Donald Ross continually tweaked his beloved Pinehurst No. 2. Minor modifications have prepped it for the 2012 PGA Championship. New back tees can play in excess of 7,500 yards. Both the tee and the green on No. 18 have been repositioned closer to the beach within the past decade to enhance the connection to the Atlantic Ocean. Ten of its holes run seaside. At the suggestion of his wife, Alice, Dye built up the fairways, so ocean views can be enjoyed throughout the round.

Ponds and marshes pinch many of the fairways and green sites, demanding precise golf. Playing the Ocean course is not only an examination of a man’s golf game but his grit, heart and wits. Thankfully, world-class caddies assist with the journey, and pampering awaits back at the resort after post-round drinks in the magnificent clubhouse.

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Stock Watch: Strange grumpy; Tiger Time again?

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 23, 2018, 1:00 pm

Each week on GolfChannel.com, we’ll examine which players’ stocks and trends are rising and falling in the world of golf.

RISING

Jon Rahm (+9%): This should put his whirlwind 17 months in the proper context: Rahm (38) has earned four worldwide titles in 25 fewer starts – or a full season quicker – than Jordan Spieth (63). This kid is special.

Tommy Fleetwood (+7%): Putting on a stripe show in windy conditions, the Englishman defended his title in Abu Dhabi (thanks to a back-nine 30) and capped a 52-week period in which he won three times, contended in majors and WGCs, and soared inside the top 15 in the world.

Sergio (+3%): Some wholesale equipment changes require months of adjustments. In Garcia’s case, it didn’t even take one start, as the new Callaway staffer dusted the field by five shots in Singapore.

Rory (+2%): Sure, it was a deflating Sunday finish, as he shot his worst round of the week and got whipped by Fleetwood, but big picture he looked refreshed and built some momentum for the rest of his pre-Masters slate. That’s progress.

Ken Duke (+1%): Looking ahead to the senior circuit, Duke, 48, still needs a place to play for the next few years. Hopefully a few sponsors saw what happened in Palm Springs, because his decision to sub in for an injured Corey Pavin for the second and third rounds – with nothing at stake but his amateur partner’s position on the leaderboard – was as selfless as it gets.


FALLING

Austin Cook (-1%): The 54-hole leader in the desert, he closed with 75 – the worst score of anyone inside the top 40. Oy.

Phil (-2%): All of that pre-tournament optimism was tempered by the reality of his first missed cut to start the new year since 2009. Now ranked 45th in the world, his position inside the top 50 – a spot he’s occupied every week since November 1993 – is now in jeopardy.

Careful What You Wish For (-3%): Today’s young players might (foolishly) wish they could have faced Woods in his prime, but they’ll at least get a sense this week of the spectacle he creates. Playing his first Tour event in a year, and following an encouraging warmup in the Bahamas, his mere presence at Torrey is sure to leave everyone else to grind in obscurity.

Curtis Strange (-5%): The two-time U.S. Open champ took exception with the chummy nature of the CareerBuilder playoff, with Rahm and Andrew Landry chatting between shots. “Are you kidding me?” Strange tweeted. “Talking at all?” The quality of golf was superb, so clearly they didn’t need to give each other the silent treatment to summon their best.

Brooks Koepka (-8%): A bummer, the 27-year-old heading to the DL just as he was starting to come into his own. The partially torn tendon in his left wrist is expected to knock him out of action until the Masters, but who knows how long it’ll take him to return to game shape.

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What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

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Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

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Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

The Ryder Cup topped his list.

Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

“Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”



McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

“The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

More bulletin board material, too.

Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.