Urbana native Pete Dye never thought golf was meant to be fair, inspiring him to build courses that were visually intimidating.
The island green at the TPC Sawgrass. More bunkers than could be counted at Whistling Straits.
Dye, among the forefront of modern golf architecture, died Thursday morning at age 94.
His company, Dye Design, posted the news on its Twitter account. Dye had been suffering from Alzheimer’s.
His golf courses have held four major championships, most recently at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin, which will host the Ryder Cup this year. He also had several courses on the PGA Tour, mostly notably the TPC Sawgrass, where the Stadium Course has held The Players Championship since 1982.
Many of the courses were designed with his wife, Alice, who died last February at 91.
She famously suggested to her husband as they were clearing out a swamp at Sawgrass, “Why not just make an island green?”
“He was an icon when it comes to golf course design,” said Brandt Snedeker, who won at the Dye-designed Harbourtown Golf Links in Hilton Head, South Carolina. “He was a guy who really made you uncomfortable the whole round. And he did it visually. He’d always make you think.
“He’s one of those guys that you respected him because he built some great golf courses,” Snedeker said with a smile. “But in the midst of playing them, you hated his guts.”
His courses were often described as “Dye-abolical” because of the penalties they could inflict with a bad shot.
But they were memorable, and often difficult. Among them was Blackwolf Run, where Se Ri Pak won her first U.S. Women’s Open in 1998 at 6-over par.
Dye was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2008.
PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan called him “one of the most important course architects of this or any generation.”
Dye was raised in Urbana and won a state golf championship while he was a student at Urbana High School.
His father, “Pink” Dye, built the original nine holes at Urbana Country Club in 1922, and Pete later worked there as course superintendent while he was in high school.
Pete Dye met his future wife, Alice, while attending Rollins College in Florida. They later moved to her home state of Indiana, where he sold insurance.
He decided to become a golf course designer when he was in his mid-30s.
Dye is survived by his sons Perry and P.B., who designed the second nine holes at Urbana Country Club in 1993 and owns a home near the second tee.