The Dye is cast: How will course designer Pete Dye impact on this week’s PGA Championship?

The architect's creations are regularly used on the PGA Tour – that’s good news for some players and disastrous for others.

Pete Dye is to golf what Marmite is to toast, pineapple to pizza, courgette to cake.

There's no in-between, no ambivalence: it's love or it's hate.

But why exactly?

Well, give a golf-mad youngster on the verge of boredom a packet of felt tip pens and there's a good chance he or she will dream up a ludicrous golf course featuring a wild assortment of odd-shaped greens, bizarre carries, and at least 17 wilfully awkward water hazards.

The difference between those children and Pete Dye is that men with deep pockets handed him a site office, a team of JCBs, and the freedom to go berserk on a plot of land instead of on a fresh page of foolscap.

He's created the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass (home of THE PLAYERS Championship), Harbour Town (The Heritage), TPC River Highlands (the Travelers Championship), the Stadium Course at PGA West (The American Express), TPC Louisiana (the Zurich Classic) and Austin CC (the WGC Dell Match Play).

He's also responsible for two courses that have been recent hosts of the PGA Championship - Whistling Straits (2004, 2010 and 2015) and the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island (2012).

The latter is also the host this week, of course.

Back in 1991 the resort welcomed the Ryder Cup and Paul Azinger reveals that when the American team made a pre-match visit they all hated the place. Afterwards, Colin Montgomerie called it "maddening".

PGA Tour pros once signed a petition to have the Stadium Course at PGA West dumped from the schedule.

Many of them were horrified when THE PLAYERS settled in Sawgrass. They called it, "Dye-abolical."

The thing is, Dye didn't care. His fellow architect Rees Jones said: "When the players criticized Pete, he said: 'Thank you.' It told him he was doing something right."

And, in time, the fury has abated.

Rory McIlroy's Dye journey is much like the golf world's in microcosm.

"So, the 2010 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits was when I turned a corner," he explained at TPC Sawgrass a few years ago.

"I turned up there and I hated it. Really didn't like it. I had to tell myself, 'Just get your head around liking this place for one week and embrace that it's visually a little funky and whatever.'

"I finished one shot out of a playoff and, going on from there, I've won at (Dye-designed) Kiawah Island, Crooked Stick and here. I've started to quite like them.

"But they're an acquired taste, like beer when you're younger. You sort of don't like it but then you think it's cool to drink it and then you sort of get the taste for it."

Let's take a closer look at the field.

Who likes a Dye drink? And who does Dye drive to drink?


Let's start with McIlroy. He not only won the 2012 BMW Championship at Crooked Stick, but he thrashed the field by eight shots at Kiawah Island in the same year's PGA Championship.

And he's not wrong about the impact on his Sawgrass record of finishing third at Whistling Straits. His first three visits to THE PLAYERS were all cut short, but since then he's had five top 12 finishes including victory in 2019.

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Straight as a Dye

North Carolina native Webb Simpson missed the cut in 2012, but insists: "I love Kiawah. It's kind of like Sawgrass in a way in that no matter how big a lead somebody gets, anything can happen."

Can Simpson's neat tee to green game tame Kiawah?
Can Simpson's neat tee to green game tame Kiawah?

Back in 2018 Simpson trounced THE PLAYERS field by four and he's superb at Harbour Town, amassing eight top 20s including victory in 2020. He also lost a playoff at TPC Louisiana in 2011.

Best price 45/1 with Bet365.

Dye laughing

Korea's Si-Woo Kim was more than happy when the Stadium Course at PGA West was used three times instead of just the twice in this year's The American Express - in fact he duly won the tournament.

Why would he be so happy? He likes Dye designs. He won the 2017 PLAYERS Championship and was second at Harbour Town a year later.

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Old habits Dye hard

Back in 2013 Billy Horschel threatened to win at Harbour Town, but came up short. No problem. A week later he went to another Dye track - TPC Louisiana - and claimed his first PGA Tour win there instead.

Eight years on, this March in fact, he grabbed the biggest win of his career - the WGC Dell Match Play at Austin Country Club. More Dye success.

Best price 140/1 with Bet365.

To Dye for

Bryson DeChambeau gets lots of abuse for his supposed indiscriminate use of a blunderbuss and yet throughout the recent PLAYER Championship the Sky Sport commentary team were more or less swooning in admiration of his more refined approach.

Good Bryson or bad Bryson this week?
Good Bryson or bad Bryson this week?

The man himself has always fancied Dye tracks. He's ticked off top 10s in his last three visits to River Highlands, has three top 10s at Harbour Town, and then added that tied third at Sawgrass.

Best price 16/1 with Unibet.


Veteran Matt Kuchar has landed seven top 20s at Sawgrass, including a win in 2012. His Harbour Town record is even better - he hasn't missed a cut in his last 17 visits and he claimed the tartan jacket in 2014.

He was also the halfway leader at Whistling Straits in 2010 (T10th) and finished tied seventh in 2015. That said, he carded 82 to miss the cut at Kiawah in 2012. He's a diehard on these designs, but also remember that Dye is hard.

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Do or Dye

Feast or famine, boom or bust, do or Dye. It's weirdly common for players to have records on Dye tracks, TPC Sawgrass in particular, that are peppered with top 10s and missed cuts. Rickie Fowler fits the bill perfectly.

He's teed it up 11 times at Sawgrass and nine times failed to make the top 45. The two exceptions? First and second. What about Harbour Town? Four missed cuts and one top 10. River Highlands? One missed cut, the other two visits both T13th.

Best price 150/1 with Bet365.

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Never say Dye

Does Patrick Reed have a problem when Dye meets wind? At the inland River Highlands he has three top 20s (admittedly only one top 10) in nine starts.

But he's 0-for-7 at landing a top 20 at Sawgrass, was 0-for-3 at Louisiana, has no top 40 in four visits to Harbour Town and was T30th at Whistling Straits.

Best price 35/1 with Bet365.

Dye down

Tony Finau is a top 10 machine. He's landed nine of them in 19 Major Championship starts and 11 in his last 25 starts anywhere.

But on Dye designs? He's 0-for-5 at River Highlands, 0-for-3 at Harbour Town, 0-for-5 at Sawgrass, and at both 0-for-1 at Louisiana and Crooked Stick. The only ray of light was T10th at Whistling Straits in 2015 and fourth at PGA West this year.

Best price 40/1 with Bet365.

Cross my heart and hope no Dye

Is Danny Willett a bad fit for Dye? He's never made a cut in five starts at Sawgrass, has never made the knockout stages at Austin, went home early in his only visit to River Highlands, ditto PGA West, and has finishes of MC-T54th at Whistling Straits.

He also missed his first three weekends at Harbour Town, but was then T18th last month. Still, that's his only top 50 in 15 Dye events.

Best price 300/1 with Bet365.

READ MORE: The Ocean Course at Kiawah Island: hole-by-hole guide and Rory McIlroy's winning numbers

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