Back in the Day with GMJ; Alice Dye

The Players: The First Lady of golf architecture

DELRAY BEACH, Fla. – World renowned golf course designer Pete Dye created some of the most memorable and challenging holes in the game of golf. He and his wife, Alice Dye are the architects behind the famed TPC Sawgrass course.

Alice is credited with creating the iconic par-3, hole 17 at THE PLAYERS. It sits on a lake filled with failed balls, in Ponte Vedra. Some players welcome its challenge, others argue it's too risky for a finishing hole.

"Pete laid it on em' at the Tournament Players,” said Alice with a smile, sitting in the backyard of her Delray Beach home. “It was challenging and of course who wants to make their lives more difficult anyway."

She’s 90 years young and can still handle a golf club. Dye is known for her golfing skills as an amateur champion and a leading figure in the game of golf.

"I was the first woman that was taken into the American Society of Golf Course Architects,” said Alice. “I went into that because I feel like if you're in a position to open (doors) for other women you have a responsibility to do that."

Among her lengthy list of accomplishments, she's a mother of two and for nearly 70 years she's been married to and has worked side by side with famed golf course architect, Pete Dye.

"When he wanted to start building golf courses he asked if I would be his partner,” said Alice. “So I felt very comfortable. I felt qualified."

Pete would turn to Alice for guidance countless times. But there's one particular project, a specific piece of advice that created the most famous hole in golf.

"Pete and I stayed up there in a motel while he was building the course,” said Alice. “I would come out almost every afternoon and look at things. One morning he said you gotta come out this morning I'm in a mess out here."

She recalls the stumped look on his face, tasked with creating a course unlike any other experienced in the game.

"He said where I was going to put the 17th green it's just a great big hole and I don't have any place to put it, come out and see if you could think of something," said Alice. "So I was standing at the edge of this huge cavern of a hole. And I said you know why don't you just put the 17th green back where it was, and fill this hole with water. And that's what he did."

Alice's eye created the iconic island green at 17, at TPC Sawgrass. And the huge spectator mounds, now acclaimed at THE PLAYERS weren't supposed to be quite as high as they turned out.

"Pete had all of this bad dirt that he had to do something with, so his mounds instead of being seven or eight feet became 30 and 40 feet," said Alice. 

The Sawgrass land was full of trees, flat, swampy and it proved to be a challenge. The outlying areas were rough with an overwhelming amount of grass and weeds, so they found a cheap fix, a heard of goats.
One in particular named Prunes, just couldn't be controlled.

"That's Judy Beman, the commissioner’s wife and Prunes is trying to get in the front door and she's trying to get out," said Alice.

The goals lasted a year. But through all the stress and strife there's a feeling in the end that Dye holds dear. It’s a feeling she experienced on opening day when the course came to life.

"It was the first time I had seen it with t-markers and flags in the green, it was wonderful,” said Alice. “It was a wonderful feeling."

Alice continues to lead the way for women in the game of golf, creating a "Two Tee System for Women,” making courses more manageable. She has also won several senior tournaments and a gold medal in golf at the Senior Olympics.

In late May of 2017 Alice will receive the Donald Ross Award from the American Society of Golf Course Architects for her contributions to the game.
 

© 2017 WTLV-TV


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