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Friday, January 10, 2020

Remembering Pete Dye

Golf course designer Pete Dye died Thursday at the age of 94. In many ways he redefined golf architecture and there will be many memorials written about him, like this one in USA Today. So I thought I'd do something different.

One of the views at The Cardinal by Pete Dye

It's easy to name some of Dye's iconic designs like TPC Sawgrass, Whistling Straits and Harbour Town. But many people don't realize that he designed a number of less well-known courses.

I live less than a half-hour from one of them. It's in Greensboro, owned by the same people who own Sedgefield Country Club, which hosts the Wyndham each year. It's just a stone's throw from the Piedmont Triad International Airport and until last March it was a private course. In March 2019 it became semi-private because the owners, McConnell Golf in Raleigh NC, decided more people should get a chance to play it. Here's an article from the Triad Golf Today site that announced the change.

The course is simply named The Cardinal by Pete Dye. It was originally built in 1974 as a private club, a family country club with everything from a swimming pool to tennis courts. It was intended to host some amateur events, but nothing like the huge events we now associate with Dye layouts.

I've never played the course, but back in the mid-80s I had an opportunity to walk it. I had just gotten into the game of golf and, as I recall, it was being used as the Monday qualifier course for the Greater Greensboro Open, better known as the GGO and now -- after several name changes -- as the Wyndham Championship.

I knew who Pete Dye was, but it was my first experience of a Dye course. And I was in awe of what I saw.

The Cardinal is a par-70 course measuring just over 7000 yards long. Bear in mind that equipment advances like metal woods and Spalding's  revolutionary balata killer, the two-piece Tour Edition, were still very new and 7000 yards was a long course. I remember that my two biggest impressions of The Cardinal was that it looked extremely difficult... and that I had never seen so many railroad ties in my life.

I was also blown away by the sheer beauty of the place. The photo I included earlier in this post only hints at what it's like.

Pete Dye will be remembered for many things but I think my most vivid memory will be that chilly March day at The Cardinal, when I got my first real glimpse of how stunning a golf course could be -- not just courses where the PGA Tour, huge sponsors and TV networks were involved, but smaller venues that would likely never see a multimillion-dollar event. That's how I'll remember Pete Dye.

And I think that's a good way to be remembered, don't you?

1 comment:

  1. used to host amateur tournament, that included "hardest par 3" Dye designed