If not for a fortunate military transfer, Pete Dye might have stayed an insurance agent and amateur golfer. And golfers worldwide wouldn't have had the pleasure of playing some of Dye's most diabolical course designs.
But while stationed at North Carolina's Fort Bragg during World War II, Dye not only played regularly at Pinehurst No. 2, he met Donald Ross, the father of American golf architecture. That relationship eventually led Dye to switch careers in his mid-30s. And razor-sharp -- and sharp-witted -- at 88, Pete Dye is still designing golf courses, more than 80 at last count.
We recently sat down with Pete at his newly redesigned Ford Plantation Golf Club in Richmond Hill, Ga., to see if he'd share anecdotes about some of his more famous courses, and how they came about:
Harbour Town Golf Links, Hilton Head
"I built Harbour Town on a real shoestring. We finally got the course done, and I can remember it was in August and Joe Dey, who was then with the PGA of America, called me and said, 'I hope you have all the sand in the bunkers.' I thought they were talking about having the tournament at Sea Pines in November. I said, 'Well, OK. I'm sure the sand will be in.' But there wasn't any sand in any of them. I sent my wife, Alice, out to finish the 13th hole with a crew and a bulldozer.
"But the day the tournament started, I was on the 13th hole. It was real early and I was out there with a crew, trying to put the sand in. The first guy was coming down the fairway just as we finished. So I walked behind him and two men were standing behind the green and said, 'Isn't this a lovely hole that Jack Nicklaus built.'
"I was standing behind them, all dirty from raking the bunkers, and said, 'Jack Nicklaus has never seen this hole. A lovely young lady designed it.' I walked away, and heard one guy say to the other, 'There goes an early-morning drunk for you.' "
Whistling Straits, host of the 2015 PGA Championship
"Herbert Kohler came down to Oak Tree in Oklahoma and got me to go back and look at the land. I could tell that he'd never played golf. Finally, he convinced me to build the course. I started out and the next thing I knew, he had a national women's open scheduled.
"He wanted to put the 17th green about a mile and a half away from the 18th tee. And I kept saying, 'Mr. Kohler, you can't do that.' So he said, 'I'll be down there at 5 o'clock.' Well, he didn't show up, so I grabbed the equipment, knocked down all the trees and put the green where I thought it should be and put everything on fire. And I thought, 'The best thing I can do is get the hell out of here because he's going to have a heart attack.'
"He came there and saw the smoke and everything burning. He called me and told me to get back there, because he was going to kill me. He did everything but kill me, but I finished the golf course. The next thing I knew, he wanted me to build two more courses. And it's been successful. Every time I go back, he wants to know what I'm doing -- and I never tell him."
Ford Plantation Golf Club, Richmond Hill, Ga.
"When I first built this golf course, it was about 30 years ago. Anyhow, I thought I knew everything, but I didn't know anything. They called me back and I told them it'd take five or six million dollars to fix it back up. Tim Liddy was working with me and he went through all the processes to get the permits, and then he put a few bunkers out where the high handicap players would hit.
COURSE REVIEW: Ford Plantation Golf Club
"I must have made 30 or 40 trips down here, and we finally got the golf course worked out. We changed a few holes. I remember moving No. 1 way out to the right, and we cleaned up the whole area so you can see the water. We put in all new greens and bunkers, and added new irrigation.
"But it's amazing to me, when I come here to see this course, you play Nos. 1 through 9 and it's in a wooded area. Then bang, you're out in the open. There's only four trees out there someplace on the outward nine."
Casa de Campo Resort, Dominican Republic
"They wanted me to build a course in Santo Domingo. But there was no land there. I said, 'Do you own anything else?' They said, 'Yes, but nobody would go there.' They owned about 500,000 acres about 50 miles from Santo Domingo, and I thought, 'Well, there's got to be somewhere in there to put a golf course.'
"But the road stopped at this river, and it took all day to get out there. They were going to build an industrial park right on the ocean, and I said to them, 'This is where the golf course ought to go.'
"Now there's five golf courses out there, 3,500 homes worth an average of two to three million dollars, and people will come from Italy and France to stay there. Since I started down there, the whole country's tourism has grown. Now there's a four-lane highway that'll get you there in 45 minutes."
The 2013-14 European Tour season wraps up this week with the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai.
Early this week, Rory McIlroy, Henrik Stenson and Justin Rose went out on the Earth Course at the Jumeirah Golf Estates for a unique challenge.
All three players have hit memorable shots in the tournament -- Stenson a three-wood on the par-5 closing hole that set up a tap-in eagle to win the tournament and the Race to Dubai in 2013; McIlroy a 12-foot birdie putt to win the event in 2012; and Rose a monstrous putt on the final hole that -- though it didn't drop -- was amazing.
In the video below, the players take turns recreating the memorable shots of the two others.
We have to say, while McIlroy's recreation of Stenson's fairway wood was incredibly impressive, Stenson is the winner of the challenge for the unique spin on recreating McIlroy's winning putt. How good was that?
Would you trust anyone to hit a golf ball while you're standing directly in the line of fire?
I don't care if it's Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus, Bobby Jones, or Phil Mickelson. My answer would be, "Absolutely not!"
Well, depending on how much money is involved, if I'm being honest.
That said, I'm not sure there's a large enough sum of money (there probably is) that could get me to stand roughly 10 feet in front of a hacker who's ripping drivers.
But different strokes for different folks, evidenced by this video:
That guy is crazy!
As it turns out, this was all part of a promotion for The Golfers Club in Umhlanga, South Africa.
East Coast Radio's Darren Maule is the man firing the shots at his breakfast show stuntman -- according to the YouTube description.
The stuntman's name? This is beautiful... "Kevlar Kev."
The PGA Catalunya Resort in Girona, Spain, is hosting this week's final stage of European Tour Qualifying School. Q-School is always grueling, as players live and die with every shot seeing as every stroke taken could determine one's employment status for the next season. For some, tournament golf might not be in the cards.
For American John Hahn, who has decided to take his path to the top ranks of the game through Europe rather than the Web.com Tour in the U.S., Tuesday was huge.
Hahn entered the fourth round of European Tour Q-School 104th out of 150 players at 4-over par and in desperate need of a big move.
Well, the former Kent State golfer whose lone PGA Tour start was a missed cut in the 2013 U.S. Open, did just that, firing a record low score of 12-under 58.
That's right -- a 58! That "record" however is unofficial, seeing as the round was played with preferred lies.
— EuropeanTourQSchool (@ETQSchool) November 18, 2014
Come on! We need a little more emotion than that after a birdie on the final hole for a 58!
— The European Tour (@EuropeanTour) November 18, 2014
At the time of this post Hahn, 25, had soared 90 spots up the leaderboard into a tie for 14th as the result of his work. It was a big deal on many levels -- only the top 70 and ties after four rounds of European Tour Qualifying School make the cut for the final two rounds where the top 25 and ties earn their Tour cards for the 2015 Race to Dubai.
Hahn, 8 under through 72 holes, was five shots off the lead at the time of this post. Hahn's best career finish in 22 starts on the European Tour was a tie for third in February at the Africa Open.
Here's a look at Hahn's scorecard, which featured 12 birdies and no bogeys. Seven of those birdies came on the back nine, where Hahn fired a 28:
Hahn's stunning round understandably elicited some congratulatory tweets from other top players:
58 at the school for @_JohnHahn . Round of applause or a big Hahn'd!
— Lee Westwood (@WestwoodLee) November 18, 2014