World Golf hall-of-fame architect Pete Dye (born in 1925) is the most influential golf course designer from a family of designers from Ohio. He grew up on a golf course his father had designed and became a high school champion and a champion in the amateur league before joining the Army in 1944. World War II ended before he was sent overseas, but Pete stayed on in Fort Bragg, North Carolina, where he met Donald Ross has had built golf courses.Before turning to designing golf courses, Pete was an insurance salesman and amateur golfer. In the 60s, together with his wife Alice, he ventured into becoming a golf course designer albeit the economic challenges and uncertainties. As a team they designed their first 9-hole-course south of Indianapolis. After that pretty much everything is history.
Pete Dye has designed 91 golf courses in the United States, Italy (Brescia – wine golf course), the Caribbean, China, and elsewhere in the world. His designs are influenced by the classic Scottish courses with pot bunkers, bulkheads and diminutive, small greens, and the use of railroad ties. His enjoyable courses are environmentally sound, ecological and unique. They are built to help producing better golfers and champions as well as serve as resorts and public spaces. The Dye design philosophy is to create a challenging environment for the advanced players and at the same time to provide a course that won’t leave beginners totally frustrated. However, the courses are difficult for average golfers and albeit beautiful also intimidating for accomplished players.
Pete designed the River Course at Blackwolf Run, west of Kohler village and along the Sheboygan river, a former military base that was totally flat. It opened in 1988. The objective was to build a reproduction of a classic seaside links courses in Ireland and Scotland. It is today 91 of the top one hundred golf courses in America.
He also designed Whistling Straights, no. 22 of top one hundred and an area north of Sheboygan, along Lake Michigan, that used to be a dangerous eyesore and toxic waste dump until Dye cleaned it up, restored the habitat and transformed it completely.
Of his collaboration with Herb Kohler, Pete Dye says: “Mr. Kohler, he always comes up with some wild ideas, I never listen to him. But the deal is, his courses are successful.”