Best Pete Dye golf courses
View our selection of the best Pete Dye designed golf courses to play on your next golf trip.
When it comes to golf course architects, there is no bigger name than Pete Dye.
With the support on many projects from his wife Alice (a state and national golfing title winner), Dye designed over 100 courses all over the world. Known for creating some of the toughest challenges, many of Dye’s designs have held PGA TOUR tournaments, Ryder Cups and major championships.
From the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass to Kiawah Island’s Ocean Course, the list is highly impressive. Below, is a selection of the best Pete Dye golf courses, which we would highly recommend playing at least once.
The Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach is considered Pete Dye’s most famous creation. Built in 1980, it was former PGA TOUR Commissioner Deane R. Beman’s idea to build a true Stadium Course that would become the permanent home of THE PLAYERS Championship, and he trusted Pete Dye to produce a golf course that would test the best.
The course is described as ‘truly balanced and suits no particular style of play’ as holes vary in length and doglegs move in both directions. The final three (16, 17 and 18) are spectacular and have witnessed much drama over the years, however the par-3 17th always steals the show. The iconic island green sits just 137 yards from the tee box, yet it strikes fear into all that play it. The original design was only to have water on the right-hand side of the green, however it was Pete’s wife Alice that suggested they kept digging and the island green, now famous around the world, was born.
The second course at TPC Sawgrass is also a Pete Dye-design and is aptly called Dye’s Valley. It naturally gets over-shadowed by its big brother; however, it has hosted elite professional and amateur events since its conception in 1987. With water on nearly every hole, large challenging greens and excellent course conditions, it regularly ranks as one of the top courses in Florida.
A stay at the Sawgrass Marriott Golf Resort & Spa, located minutes from TPC Sawgrass gives access to playing both courses, and it makes for a first-class golf vacation.
Designed for the 1991 Ryder Cup, The Ocean Course at Kiawah Island is one of Pete Dye’s most stunning creations, and on a windy day one of his most brutal. Ten of the 18 holes are nestled against the Atlantic coastline while the other eight run parallel to those. Initially, Dye had planned to sit many of the holes behind the sand dunes, however his wife Alice suggested lifting them, so the ocean was unobstructed from every hole. On the plus side, you have some unbelievable views, yet there is no shelter from the sea breezes that can change direction several times each day.
Add lagoons, bunkers that merge into huge wastelands, fast greens with steep run-off areas and an alligator or two and you start to get a sense of the challenge. However, despite its difficulty, it is ranked as one of the top courses to experience in the country, and with a good caddie by your side (the norm on The Ocean Course) you will have an unforgettable experience.
With four other courses on property at Kiawah Island, multiple villas and larger homes to rent, plus the five-star Sanctuary Hotel, Kiawah Island Golf Resort is one of the best.
Casa de Campo Resort lies on the southern coastline of the Dominican Republic and is home to three Pete Dye-designed courses – The Links, Dye Fore, and the spectacular Teeth of the Dog. Rated the No.1 course in the Caribbean and ranked No.7 in GOLF Magazine’s Top 100 Courses You Can Play in 2020-21, Teeth of the Dog has been receiving the highest of accolades since it opened in 1971.
With seven holes playing along the Caribbean shoreline, including par threes that demand a carry across the breaking ocean waves where ancient coral formations stick out sharply from the water (hence the name Teeth of the Dog), this is simply one of Pete Dye’s most stunning layouts. Dye is famously known for giving recognition to a ‘co-designer’, on this project as he remarked “I created 11 holes and God created 7”.
The Dye Fore Course at Casa de Campo is made up of three unique 9-hole loops – Chavon, Marina and Lagos. From cliffside holes, elevation changes of up to 300 feet, to views of the Caribbean Sea and the Marina, these 27 holes are often regarded as the Caribbean’s best-kept secret. Add the more playable third Dye course on property, The Links, and you have a fantastic selection of golf to enjoy at this five-star all-inclusive Casa de Campo Resort.
Barefoot Resort is home to Myrtle Beach’s ‘Fantastic Four’ courses designed by Fazio, Norman, Love and Pete Dye. Not surprisingly, the Dye Course is considered the most challenging and it is the only semi-private facility at the resort, as guests of Barefoot are privileged to access both the golf course and the impressive clubhouse – The Dye Club. The layout stretches to 7,350 yards off the tips and as with all Pete Dye courses, danger is never far away. With considerable bunkering, large waste areas and plenty of water, it is another Pete Dye classic.
The finish is tough, from the par-5 16th (the longest on the course) to the par-3 17th where the green sits on an island, that resides amongst the marsh. Not quite the 17th at Sawgrass as there is room to miss, but certainly a unique challenge. The 18th is a brute of a par 4, 471 yards from the back tees with a huge expanse of water hugging the left side from tee to green. The Dye Course borders the natural white sands of the Carolina Bay and while visually stunning, it is also a real test of your game.
Pete Dye along with player consultancy from Jack Nicklaus created a real favorite amongst both TOUR players and amateurs alike when they produced Harbour Town Golf Links in the late 60’s. As the home of the PGA TOUR’s RBC Heritage Tournament since 1969, it is both highly regarded and extremely well-known throughout the golfing world.
Not overly long by today’s standards, accuracy, shot-making and strategy are key ingredients to a good score as the holes work their way through the native woodlands and waterways. Over-hanging branches often block out approach shots if you find yourself on the wrong side of the fairway and the greens are small.
As with many of Dye’s courses, the finish is truly memorable… the par-3 17th plays directly out to the expanse of water that is the Calibogue Sound with the left side and back of the green nestled against the reeds and water’s edge. Then it’s the par-4 18th, where the waterway runs the length of the hole and beyond, anything left is wet. Famous for the red and white hooped Harbour Town Lighthouse that is the backdrop to the green, it is a finish you will always remember.
The Canyons Course at TPC San Antonio was created by Pete Dye in 2010, and on this rare occasion it is considered the easier of the two layouts at the property – the second being the Greg Norman-designed Oaks Course that annually hosts the PGA TOUR’s Valero Texas Open. Located just north of San Antonio, the natural terrain of Texas Hill Country plays a big part in the golf course.
The rolling landscape, native oak and cedar trees, dramatic elevation changes and spectacular views of the nearby Cibolo Canyon and local wildlife sanctuary make for a great test of golf and an enjoyable time on the course. As per Dye’s trademark, the fairways are relatively wide however head too far offline and the native areas are penalizing, bunkers are well-placed and forced carries over the ravine all add to the challenge.
In summary, not one of Pete Dye’s toughest, but certainly a course that gets your attention whilst offering unbelievable vistas, the 8th hole is the highest point you reach and standing on the green you feel like you can see all of Texas.
Located in Rancho Mirage in the Coachella Valley just a few miles from Palm Springs, the Pete Dye Resort Course works its way around the excellent Westin Rancho Mirage Resort. At nearly 7,000 yards off the back tees, it offers a tough test, however, go forward a little and it becomes far more manageable for all golfers.
As you navigate the layout, you’ll recognize many of Dye’s trademark features from railroad ties to pot bunkers, elevated tees and some difficult hidden pin positions. And, although there are only four holes that feature water hazards, each requires a well-struck shot to carry the danger. Rolling fairways and spectacular mountain scenery all make for a great day on this Dye-design that has often been described as ‘potentially diabolical, yet indescribably playable’.
Located 25 minutes northwest of the Las Vegas Strip is the highly impressive Las Vegas Paiute Golf Resort, home to three Pete Dye designs that reside in some of the most stunning desert and mountain landscapes.
Snow Mountain was the first course built at Paiute, wide fairways help from the tee but with seven holes featuring water, famous Pete Dye railroad-tie bunkers throughout and a risk-reward final three holes, it packs a punch. Known to have the best par-3s on property, the 16th is considered its signature as the tee shot must carry a lake to a well-protected peninsula green. A tough hole, but as always at Paiute it comes with an unbelievable backdrop of the local mountain range.
Sun Mountain was Dye’s second creation in 1996, and it remains a favorite with all that visit. Dye utilized the natural landscape to create sweeping slope changes, fescue rough lines the fairways and the desert winds play a big part in shot selection. Always in great condition and created so that each hole is seemingly separate from the other, players feel a true sense of isolation as they tackle Sun Mountain.
The Wolf course was added to the property in 2001, and from the back tees is 7,604 yards (the longest in Nevada), although five teeing options give all golfers a challenge that fits their game. Considered the premier course at Paiute, tight, fast desert-style golf is waiting with elevation changes, jaw-dropping views and the stunning 15th hole island green.
In summary, if you are heading to Las Vegas on a golf vacation then a day (or two) at Las Vegas Paiute Resort is an absolute must.
A regular stop on the PGA TOUR’s main schedule and home to the PGA TOUR ‘Q School’ finals, Dye’s Stadium Course at PGA WEST challenges the best in the game and was previously ranked 4th in Golf Digest’s toughest courses to play category.
Although the fairways are generous (as with many Pete Dye designs), danger is never far away and water is present on 9 of the 18 holes including the famous par-3 17th, known as ‘Alcatraz’. Large boulders surround the green giving it a similar appearance to its namesake, and a wayward tee shot often ricochets back into the water. With six teeing options to choose from, golfers of all abilities can select a layout that fits their level of play, before stepping onto the 1st hole to take on the challenge ahead.
Sales Team Leader
Sales Team Leader, Heads our Charleston office sales team for golf vacations domestic and abroad. While continuing to advise clients on golf courses and accommodations