ARCHITECT PETE DYE PASSES AWAY AT AGE 94

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BY RORY SPEARS. Director of Content and Creation. Follow Rory on Twitter @GogBlogGuy

IF YOU LIKE GOLF, you have to love Pete Dye. Dye the Hall of Fame Golf architect passed away today at age 94. His wife Alice passed away Feb. 1, 2019.

I have countless memories of Pete, always a character, and he always said what was on his mind. There was no “PC” in Pete’s World, and if you ever spent anytime with Pete, you are better off for it.

When it comes to Pete, I don’t know where to start, I could go on with stories about him for hours, days and weeks.

If you wanted to learn a little about golf architecture, Pete wasn’t always the best source. He would go on about moving dirt around, because there was a little extra over here, and we just moved it over there. That was the explanation I got about the “Volcano Bunkers” he built on the Pete Dye Course at the French Lick Resort. But it was the in between stuff that always left you howling.

Pete always had a tale or two, about some battle with the course owner. His stories about disagreements with Herb Kohler are classic. Once the Kohler folks finally decided to turn Herb and Pete loose talking about the 4 Kohler courses during major championships in Kohler or Haven Wisconsin home to Whistling Straits, it was comedy hour. Golf writers from everywhere just ate that stuff up.

THE PETE AND ALICE DYE portrait at the French Lick Resort.

About 8 years ago I told Pete I would be in Florida, and did he have any courses he wanted me to play. He said, if you need anything while your in Florida, just call me, I live in Delray Beach. So I asked for his phone number, Pete said just look it up, I’m in the phone book.

So I did, and he was, amazing. I will never forget opening day at the Irish Course at Whistling Straits. It was a shotgun start, my three partners and I were playing our first hole the par 3, 6th hole. My partners had hit, I was last, then Pete and Herb pull up in a cart behind me at the tee. Pete says hit it. I had 157  yards and hit a seven iron all over the flag. My ball hits about 5 feet from the cup, kicks right, rolls 15 feet and off the green and down into a bunker. I couldn’t believe it. Then I turn around and Pete and Herb are laughing and high fiving each other. Herb tells Pete, good job on this hole, lets go on to the next one and they drove off.

  THE PETE DYE STATUE at the French Lick Resort (L), the Pete and Alice Dye statue at Crooked Stick GC, Carmel Indiana.

OUR FINAL interview with Pete Dye on the 10th-and 11th holes at Crooked Stick, on BMW Championship media day in 2016. I knew it would be the last interview, since his health and memory were already in decline.

At the turn on the Irish Course, Pete was there watching golfers play the Irish Course and Whistling Straits. One golfer went inside the pro shop, and bought a copy of Pete’s book, “Bury me in a Pot Bunker.” He brought it back outside and had Pete sign it, then all the other golfers seeing that, went in the pro shop and did the same thing. I’m glad I went in when I did. I got the last copy. Pete signed it.

It’s a great book, and now I hope he gets his wish. RS

BIG 3 Partner Len Ziehm recalls Pete Dye at lenziehmongolf.com.

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About Rory Spears

Rory spent over 8 years growing up working at Rob Roy Golf Club in Prospect Hts.IL, then two years at Chevy Chase in Wheeling. He has covered golf in Chicago since 1986. Rory was one of the initial members of WSCR all-sports radio Chicago and covered golf there for 5 seasons, before moving on to work for ESPN/Sportsticker and ESPN Radio. In addition to hosting Golfers on Golf Radio on WNDZ Am 750 Chicago, he writes for both Chicagoland Golf and the Chicago District (CDGA) Magazine. Rory has played over 525 courses in 39 states, and rates golf courses. He does golf course management and communications consulting, in the golf industry.