Iconic golf course designer Pete Dye is dead at 94

Jason Owens

Pete Dye, the architect of some of golf’s most iconic and challenging golf courses, has died at 94.

His family announced the news in a statement on Thursday.

“Pete made an indelible mark on the world of golf that will never be forgotten,” the statement reads. “We will all miss him dearly.”

Pete Dye is dead at 94 (Getty Images)
Pete Dye is dead at 94 (Getty Images)

Dye’s influence on golf

Dye is best known for designing Florida’s TPC Sawgrass — which hosts The Players Championship — and its trademark 17th island par three that lays claim to balls of the world’s best golfers every year.

“Golf is not a fair game, so why build a course fair?” Dye famously said of that 17th hole.

TPC Sawgrass is far from Dye’s only masterpiece. He designed several golf courses that host PGA and Ryder Cup vents, including Crooked Stick in Indiana, Kiawah Island’s Ocean Course in South Carolina and Whistling Straits in Wisconsin, which has hosted the PGA Championship on multiple occasions and will host the Ryder Cup this year.

Dye designed courses alongside his wife Alice

Dye designed 130 championship courses alongside his wife Alice, who died last year at 91, according to the Indianapolis Star.

He was born in Urbana, Ohio, on Dec. 29, 1925 and grew up with a nine-hole golf course that his father built in his backyard, according to GolfChannel. He was a successful amateur golfer who qualified for the 1957 U.S. Open.

He joined the Army at age 18 and met Pinehurst No. 2 architect Donald Ross while stationed at Fort Bragg, N.C. After his service, he married Alice in 1950, and they built a business designing some of the world’s premier golf courses, according to GolfChannel.

No. 17 at TPC Sawgrass is one of golf's most famous holes. (AP Photo/John Raoux, FIle)
No. 17 at TPC Sawgrass is one of golf's most famous holes. (AP Photo/John Raoux, FIle)

He credited Alice for the concept behind No. 17 at TPC Sawgrass.

“Originally, the water was just supposed to come into play on the right side, but we just kept digging," Dye once said, according to Golf Channel. “And then one day Alice came out and said, 'Why don't you just go ahead and make it an island?' So we did.”

Dye was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2008, which paid tribute to his unique designs influenced by old-style links courses.

“Dye's approach to constructing a new course harkens back to an older time — he does not strictly adhere to detailed architectural plans or diagrams, preferring instead to fashion each hole out of the ground in a very personal and hands-on fashion, very much in the manner of the grand masters of golf course architecture,” his Hall profile reads.

Jack Nicklaus hailed his influence on him as a designer.

"What Pete Dye has done for the game of golf is something for which we should all be thankful,” Jack Nicklaus once said of Dye, according to ESPN. "He changed the way we think about golf course design, and how design works.”

Dye battled Alzheimer's disease late in life. He is survived by sons P.B. and Perry.

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