Exploring Pete Dye’s Best Public Courses

By Ryan Watson

Pete Dye has long been seen as one of golf’s greatest course designers, with courses spread throughout America and the world. Dye has seen his designs host major championships, and his course at TPC Sawgrass is home to The Players Championship. Dye helped bring golf away from a purely penal form of golf and instead used smart routing to force accuracy and also variety. For his work, Dye was admitted into the World Golf Hall of Fame. Dye passed away January 9, 2020 but his numerous beautiful courses stand as a legacy to a man dedicated to his craft. The following are Dye’s best courses open to the public.

French Lick

8670 West, IN-56,
French Lick, IN 47432

The aptly named Pete Dye Course at French Lick Resort is one of the Midwest’s best courses, and a former host of the 2015 Senior PGA Championship. The course features stunning 40-mile panoramic views of the surrounding countryside with elevation changes and rugged, strategic bunkering. The course is a great example of championship golf in the parkland tradition.

Las Vegas Paiute Golf Resort

10325 Nu-Wav Kaiv Blvd.
Las Vegas, NV 89124

At Las Vegas Paiute Golf Resort you get 3 Pete Dye courses--Snow Mountain, Sun Mountain, and the Wolf--all in one spot. The courses are seen as some of the best in the saturated Las Vegas market, and are more playable than many other Pete Dye designs. Snow Mountain was the original and plays like a classic Dye course, while Sun Mountain is the more playable and the Wolf is the longest course in Vegas and demands accuracy and power.

PGA West Stadium Course

55-955 Pga Blvd.
La Quinta, CA 92253

PGA West was founded in 1985 in the greater Palm Springs area as a private club, though it allows access to the Dye-designed Stadium Course to non-members through its luxury resort. The Stadium Course is routinely ranked as one of the most challenging courses on the PGA Tour, where it hosts the Desert Classic. In fact, the course was considered too difficult even by the professionals who complained loudly about its difficulty. Truly not for the faint of heart, it is also the home to the infamous island green on hole 17, better known as "Alcatraz."

Blackwolf Run

1111 W Riverside Dr.
Kohler, WI 53044

Blackwolf Run is a 2 course golf complex owned by the American Club in Kohler, Wisconsin. The River Course and Meadow Valleys Course are both Dye designs. The River course is a monster at 7,404 yards and uses the Sheboygan River prominently throughout the course. The Meadow Valleys Course is the easier of the 2 courses, but is no slouch with a course rating of 75.1 and a slope of 145.

Harbour Town Golf Links

11 Lighthouse Ln.
Hilton Head Island, SC 29928

While not purely a Pete Dye design--he had a lot of input from a young Jack Nickalus--Harbor Links gets the nudge to be on our list for his outsized role and the sheer quality of the track. Harbour Town Golf Links is known for hosting the annual RBC Heritage Tournament, a PGA Tour event. However, the course is still playable for amateurs as the course has a much shorter yardage than many other championship caliber courses. What the course lacks in long yardages it makes up for in tight greens, tree-lined holes, and strong coastal winds that punish inaccurate shots.

Whistling Straits

N8501 Lakeshore Rd.
Sheboygan, WI 53083

Like Blackwolf Run, Whistling Straits is also owned by The American Club and boasts 2 Pete Dye courses. While the Irish Course is a fun links style course worthy of playing, it is the namesake Straits course that most attracts golfers. The course replicates classic British links courses and has hosted multiple PGA Championships. Golfers will enjoy playing the same course that Tiger Woods, Jordan Spieth, and other giants of the game have played.

Ocean Course at Kiawah Island Golf Resort

1000 Ocean Course Dr.
Kiawah Island, SC 29455

The Ocean Course at Kiawah Golf Resort is well known for its role as host for a Ryder Cup, PGA and Senior PGA Championship, and is scheduled to host the 2021 PGA championship. This Dye masterpiece can also claim the most seaside holes in the Northern Hemisphere with 10 of 18 holes located directly on the coastline. In addition to the spectacular views, the course is best known for the strong and unpredictable winds which act as an ever-changing hazard, and the interesting routing.

Teeth of the Dog at Casa de Campo Resort

La Romana 22000
Dominican Republic

This lesser-known Pete Dye course is slowly winning more and more accolades as more serious golfers travel to the Dominican Republic’s Casa de Campo Resort. In this 1971 course, Dye managed 7 oceanfront holes that hug the rugged coastline in this long 7,350 yard course. The course will leave you with stunning views while also forcing you to use every club in the bag. There are also 2 more Dye designs on the the layout that may be slightly less stunning, but also less demanding.

TPC Sawgrass

110 Championship Way
Ponte Vedra Beach, FL 32082

Pete Dye’s most famous design is also open to the public in Florida’s The Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass. The difficult course is the annual host to the yearly Players Championship, the most lucrative regular season PGA Tour event. Sometimes referred to as the "fifth major," this course was designed specifically to host the event and can seat 36,000 spectators. The course was designed to be a balanced course that incorporated all styles of course design. The Stadium Course is also home to the famous island green on the 17th hole, providing an opportunity for amateurs to try their had at one of golf's most difficult holes.

About the Author

Ryan Watson is a freelance sportswriter and history professor. He has been an avid fan of golf since his father signed him up for golf camp as a young child. Ryan enjoys following the professional game and learning about new equipment and gadgets.