The Golf Houses, and Influence, of Pete and Alice Dye


This article is part of our International Homes special section, which takes a look at homes and golf, from planned communities and sustainability to course designers and where they live.

Pete and Alice Dye were known for creating excruciatingly challenging PGA Tour courses. T.P.C. Sawgrass in Florida and PGA West in California — both with treacherous island greens — were early and controversial creations but are regular stops on the tour. Later, they designed Whistling Straits in Kohler, Wis., the host club for the Ryder Club this year, and the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island Golf Resort, where the P.G.A. Championship will be played next year.

Yet the couple, who died within a year of each other — Alice in February 2019, Pete in January — appreciated the need for real estate to finance the cost of the courses they were designing and fulfill people’s desire to live with a view of green fairways, rippling water and stands of trees.

They were the first course designers to recognize the potential of the Dominican Republic as a golf destination, when they signed with the owners of a local sugar mill to create Teeth of the Dog in La Romana. Now there are three Dye courses in what is known as Casa de Campo.

They worked with Jack Nicklaus in designing the Harbour Town Golf Links in Hilton Head, S.C., with a red-and-white lighthouse signaling like a beacon to players coming down the 18th fairway.

Both developments are lined with condos, villas and homes. So, too, are T.P.C. Sawgrass, PGA West and the Ocean Course.

“The housing business was a major part of the work we did,” said Perry Dye, the Dyes’ oldest son, who is also an architect. He worked alongside his parents, as did his younger brother P.B. Dye, another successful course architect. “We were dependent on residential real estate.”

Pete and Alice lived on golf courses themselves. In the Dominican Republic, where they spent winters, they had a home on the par-3 seventh hole at Teeth of the Dog. They lived on Crooked Stick in Carmel, Ind., a course he built in 1964, and also lived in Delray Beach, Fla., between Gulf Stream Golf Club, a classic Donald Ross design, and The Little Club, a par-three course.

“Because he lived on golf courses, he knew what you wanted to look at,” Perry said. “People walking down the fairway are not as interesting as people on the green. Places like Old Marsh, where the alligators were on your front lawn, he made sure the houses were set back,” he added, referring to a course his parents designed in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.

Here’s a look at the way the Dyes used real estate in some of their better-known designs.

The course hugs the Caribbean coastline, but given the flatness of the land, houses could be set back without compromising the golf or the views. It is ranked the best in the Caribbean and is still in the top 100 courses in the world.

None of that was preordained in the late 1960s, when the Dyes took a helicopter over thousands of acres of sugar cane and a lone sugar mill in La Romana that became Casa de Campo. “There wasn’t golf on the island, and the interest in golf was zero,” Perry said. “The owner of the property was trying to build a golf course in Santo Domingo,” but Perry said his father did not think that location made sense.

Pete proved to be right. The development in La Romana now has close to 4,000 homes and 54 holes of Dye designs. Architectural gems that take in views of the sea and the course are listed for as high as $13 million.

Perry said the owners then never imagined it would become an international resort. The sugar mill’s owners “built a golf course for the upper-end staff,” Perry said.

“They had no intention of anyone else playing there,” he added. “They used to fly to Puerto Rico to play golf and have dinner, but that was 90 miles away.”

What is now the host of the Players Championship was once a swamp. But houses were always in the plan — albeit around the perimeter. “You couldn’t put anything in the interior,” Perry said. “It was three feet of water. They lost machinery in there.”

The course, which opened in 1980, was challenging and controversial from the start. Professional golfers complained that it was too tough — or in their words, required too much luck. But the houses were the opposite of Florida flash, hidden behind trees that shielded them from players and also from the thousands of fans and workers who fill the course each March for the tournament.

Deane Beman, who was the PGA Tour commissioner when the course was built, wanted it to be “democratic” in that it would require a player to hit all different shots. That’s up for debate, given how tough it is. But the current listing of homes at Sawgrass appears to have fulfilled his charge, ranging in price from $200,000 to $2 million.

The Dyes collaborated with Mr. Nicklaus in creating a course of instantly recognizable finishing holes with marsh grass along one side and the choppy water of Calibogue Sound in the distance. But the lighthouse 18th green was almost obscured.

“That classic 18th hole — the developers wanted to put condos right on the edge of the hole,” Perry said.

Instead, Pete pushed back and got the homes hidden behind trees. The homeowners still got a great view, but the aesthetic of the course was not compromised.

“My dad said: If you put a house on the sound, you’re going to sell it once. But if you put it on the other side, overlooking the golf course, you’re going to sell it forever.”

Now a four-bedroom condo with a view of the lighthouse is listed for $1.45 million, with houses going for more.

The Kiawah Island Golf Resort near Charleston, S.C., had no shortage of courses when the Dyes were hired to build one that would host the 1991 Ryder Cup. Yet the land, on the eastern tip of the island, became tangled quickly in permitting problems.

They were saved by Hurricane Hugo, which leveled good portions of Charleston and allowed the Dyes to get started under the pretense of working under a hurricane refurbishment act.

“My dad knew so much about what he was doing, when it came to working with seawater and fresh water,” Perry said. “He planted sea oats and refreshed the land. He’d done it down in Florida.”

The Ryder Cup — won by the United States in what was called the war by the shore — brought great attention to a picturesque community. It also sold a lot of homes, with one on Ocean Course Drive listed today for just under $8 million.

“If it wasn’t for Hugo that project never would have gotten off the ground,” Perry said. “The permitting process would have been impossible.”

Perry said the current trend was not golf communities or resorts, but destinations. With Bandon Dunes in Oregon, Streamsong in Central Florida and Sand Hills in Mullen, Neb., the courses are the lure.

The same is true with Whistling Straits, which Dye designed in 1998.

“What really supports golf is trends, and the trend right now is projects 50 miles outside of major metropolitan areas,” he said. “That leads to more camping huts than $2 million houses.”

At Whistling Straits, the American Club serves as base camp for the thousands of foursomes who descend each season for high-end jaunts, packed with as much golf as a group of friends can play in a day.

Still, Perry said that the market for golf course homes would come back. “Some of your better investments have been on golf courses in the past 25 years,” he said. It didn’t hurt if they came with a stunning view.

Source : NYtimes