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Famed golf course designer Pete Dye dies at 94

Mr. Dye, on the Pound Ridge Golf Course, which he designed in New York.
Mr. Dye, on the Pound Ridge Golf Course, which he designed in New York. New York Times/file 2008

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.

Mr. 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. He 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.

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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, S.C. ‘‘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 US Women’s Open in 1998 at 6-over par.

Mr. 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.”

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