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Youngest Dye designer takes on family tree challenge

By David R. Holland, Contributor

PUNTA CANA, Dominican Republic -- P.B. Dye's favorite bumper sticker proclaims: "My other car is a bulldozer." No surprise and little wonder. He was atop a bulldozer at age 9 learning the art of shaping golf courses at Crooked Stick in Carmel, Ind., and he was 16 when he helped dad Pete at Teeth of the Dog here in the Dominican Republic.

P.B. (Paul Burke) Dye was brought up in one of the most heralded golf course design families in America. His granddad Paul F. "Pinky" Dye designed nine holes at Urbana Country Club in Ohio and many years later P.B. designed a back nine for the course.

Pete Dye, who grew up on that same farm land-golf course in Ohio, took his father's lead and has created one of the most prolific design portfolios in the history of American golf, although traditional golf course architecture critics take issue to some of his drastic designs.

The family business doesn't end there. P.B.'s mom, Alice, is an accomplished golfer, a member of the Indiana Golf Hall of Fame, and partners with Pete in the design business. And older brother Perry runs Dye Designs in Denver, where his sister Cynthia Dye-McGarey serves as landscape architect.

In 1998 the Pete Dye Family received the National Golf Foundation's Golf Family of the Year Award.

Today, P.B. is eyeballing another Dominican Republic site, just minutes from his 2000 Punta Cana Golf Club. It's already staked out with impressive views of the blue Caribbean and a proposed Pebble Beach-like eight or nine holes right on the ocean.

In a recent tour of the site, P.B. didn't have to tell anyone how spectacular the site was -- that was obvious. And he can't resist thinking about his dad when he looks out over the property.

"When we built Punta Cana in 2000, I was the same age as my dad was when he built Teeth of the Dog," P.B. recalls.

That Pete Dye 1971 layout at La Romana, Casa de Campo, Dominican Republic, is considered by many as one of the best seaside golf course in history.

"I think the Dominican Republic is the greatest place on earth and I can't help but think about my dad when I look at this new spectacular golf-course site," he said. "I keep thinking here's my chance."

That experience is going to include holes perched on cliffs high above the turquoise sea, scenic coves and jagged edges on solid coral rock and a forced carry over an inlet much like the second shot at Pebble's No. 8. Ocean spray could dampen you at any time.

"That ocean spray is going to make you think you are playing at Yellowstone," said Dye, recalling the opportunity to be doused by geysers on a walk in the famous Wyoming national park.

P.B., now 44, has survived colon and rectal cancer, and relishes the challenge of this new ocean-view golf course in the Caribbean. Like his dad, P.B.'s early designs were tabbed as beautiful, but much too difficult. With Punta Cana Golf Club he disproved all of that -- it is a very playable, scenic, fun golf course.

Critics are not something P.B. will worry about. He certainly won't be swayed by any traditional golf architecture devotees who might be highly critical of his style.

You can almost hear him say he designs golf course, he doesn't listen to critics.

Dad Pete hasn't paid attention to critics either. His autobiography, "Bury Me In A Pot Bunker" reflects his attitude about challenging golf and his so-called "sadistic" designs like The Tournament Players Club at Sawgrass, Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., and the PGA West Stadium Course in La Quinta, Calif., -- examples of bring-you-to-your-knees demanding layouts.

When the elder Dye gets praise it's usually for his "push the envelope" style and innovation. P.B. has been known for the same kinds of stuff.

Is P.B hitting prime time? Possibly. No doubt he wants approval from his famous father but confesses that dad is not the kind of guy to openly praise his work. Pete has been known to tell other people he was proud of what P.B. has accomplished.

In the Dominican Republic P.B. is a natural. He graduated from the University of Tampa where he studied Spanish and on opening day at Punta Cana he delivered a 20-minute speech in the native language.

"Everyone came up to me and said "wow," speaking to me in Spanish," he recalled. "I had to tell them that I can speak it and write it, but I can't hear it that well." In other words slow it down when you speak to P.B. in Spanish.

A non-stop story teller and talker, P.B. has a mini-speech about the job of a golf course architect -- getting an owner over potential heart attacks with each million that is spent.

The first potential heart attack comes after the first million is spent on all the design paper work and shaping.

"The second heart attack and second million is spent on all the irrigation stuff and pipes, then the third million on final grading and the planting of the grass. When the owner gets over the first three heart attacks and three million spent, his ego decides he has to have a $6-million clubhouse, instead of building a very nice one for $500,000. That's what a golf course architect goes through on most all projects."

He says the best owners are the guys that take the money made and return it to the golf course -- guys like Herb Kohler (Whistling Straits), Jack Vickers (Castle Pines) and Tony George (Double Eagle and The Brickyard).

P.B. calls three places home. He has homes in Urbana, Ohio, the Dominican Republic and Florida.

He's his own guy. He doesn't hand out business cards and he doesn't have a web site for his design business.

P.B. Dye Snapshot

Education: College: University of Tampa
Degree: Psychology (1980)

Sample of Course Designs

Punta Cana Golf Club, Dominican Republic
Loblolly Pines, Stuart, Fla.
The Honors, Chattanooga, Tenn.
Fisher Island, Miami, Fla.
Cross Creek Plantation, Seneca, S.C.
Palm Beach Polo Cypress Course, West Palm Beach, Fla.
P.B. Dye Golf Club, Ijamsville, Md.
Virginia Oaks Golf Club, Gainesville, Va.
Black Bear Golf Club, northeast of Orlando, Fla.
The Gauntlet at St. James, Southport, N.C.
The Legends Club Moorland Course, Myrtle Beach, S.C.
Debordieu, Georgetown, S.C.

Samples of designs with Pete Dye

Rum Pointe Seaside Golf Links, Ocean City, Md.
West Bay Golf Club, Naples, Fla.
Nutters Crossing Golf Club, Ocean City, Md.
Prestwick Country Club, Myrtle Beach, S.C.

David R. HollandDavid R. Holland, Contributor

David R. Holland is an award-winning former sportswriter for The Dallas Morning News, football magazine publisher, and author of The Colorado Golf Bible. Before launching a career as a travel/golf writer, he achieved the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in the Air Force reserve, serving during the Vietnam and Desert Storm eras. Follow Dave on Twitter @David_R_Holland.

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