The Forecaddie: On eve of Players, time to celebrate Alice Dye’s influence

Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports

The Forecaddie: On eve of Players, time to celebrate Alice Dye’s influence

Forecaddie

The Forecaddie: On eve of Players, time to celebrate Alice Dye’s influence

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When Alice Dye died just 18 days shy of her 92nd birthday, remembrances poured in celebrating the legacy of golf architecture’s “First Lady.”

Her play as an elite amateur golfer perhaps went a little underreported if you ask The Forecaddie, given Dye’s status as a two-time U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur champion along with a Curtis Cup appearance and a North and South Amateur win.

Pete and Alice Dye speak at the 2014 Golfweek Architecture Summit. (Golfweek)

Yet it was her influence on golf architecture that took center stage. From mentoring Dye design disciples to her relentless pursuit of better tee placement for women, Alice Dye also was widely credited with the 17th hole at the Players Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass.

At this month’s Players Championship there will be tributes galore. TPC Sawgrass paid homage to her influence on the iconic island green’s flag on No. 17. There are no shortage of stories told about this pivotal figure in American golf.

While The Forecaddie does not doubt how Alice was a huge part of the 17th hole’s evolution from a mundane shot over water to golf’s most infamous par 3, her husband, Pete, ultimately took credit for the idea. But as with so many things in the Dye way of designing, it was Alice who saved the hole from total disaster.

In Pete Dye’s book “Bury Me in A Pot Bunker”, written with Mark Shaw, Pete recalls the Ponte Vedra Club’s inspiration for moving toward the island green and subsequent digging out of the sandy area that became TPC Sawgrass’ 17th lake.

“Perhaps it was the memory of Strong’s island green, but I knew we had happened onto something special,” Pete Dye wrote about his decision to make the hole an island green. He was referring to architect Herbert Bertram Strong’s island green on the Ocean Course at Ponte Vedra. “Alice’s enthusiasm matched mine – and (then PGA Tour commissioner) Deane Beman’s when we told him.”

Pete being Pete, this is where Alice saved the day.

“At the time I didn’t really think the 17th would be all that difficult, so I sloped the back portion of the green toward the water,” he wrote. “Alice told me that if I left the green that way, she could envision the television announcers notifying the viewing audience that play in the championship was being held up because 25 foursomes were still waiting on the 17th tee for the lead player to keep his ball on the green!”

Alice was correct, given how difficult the upper shelf plays at a flat elevation.

“After some thought, I was convinced Alice was right, so that portion of the green was raised,” Pete Dye wrote.

When the tributes roll in at this year’s Players, remember not just Alice Dye’s amazing legacy, but her editor’s touch when it comes to the 17th hole. Gwk

(Note: This story appears in the April 2019 issue of Golfweek.)

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