News Article | 7/14/2000

Dye Leaves Mark; Famed Golf Course Architect Claims Lost Canyons Might Be His Best Work

The Los Angeles Times07/14/00


SIMI VALLEY – Pete Dye knows a gorgeous golf course when he sees one. Even before he designs it. This one was love at first sight.Just one tour of the oak tree-speckled terrain of Tapo Canyon in the foothills of the Santa Susana mountains was all it took for Dye, among the world’s most renowned course architects, to commit to weaving his wonder.Meandering meadows, canyons and creeks, steep mountain inclines and more majestic vistas atop White Face Mountain than you can shake a 3-wood at. How could he go wrong?Dye, with friend and former Masters champion Fred Couples as consultant, considered it a gimme from the beginning.”It is the best suited and the most naturally beautiful land that I have ever had the opportunity to design upon,” said Dye, 74, who has designed and contributed to more than 100 courses in a 40-year career. “I’ve never seen anything like it. Anybody can see that.”Golfers will get their first glimpse of Dye’s latest layout in October, when the first of two 18-hole championship courses at Lost Canyons is scheduled to open among 1,600 acres on a portion of historic Big Sky Movie Ranch.The second course is scheduled to open in December.Lost Canyons will include an 11,000 square-foot California Ranch-style clubhouse, driving range, target greens, golf shop, locker rooms, conference facilities and, eventually, a 270-room hotel and 120 real estate lots.The course is the five-year project of Landmark National, developer of more than 25 nationally recognized courses, including Kiawah Island, S.C., and the TPC Stadium Course at PGA West in La Quinta, Calif.Dye’s resume also includes the TPC at Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra, Fla., Harbor Town Golf Links at Hilton Head Island, S.C., Oak Tree Golf Club in Edmond, Okla., and Crooked Stick Golf Club in Carmel, Ind.”You try to find in the area the most natural holes that you have to do the least amount to,” Dye said. “Then, when you find those, you try to hook them up and that’s when it becomes a jigsaw puzzle.”I don’t know if I have a different philosophy than some of the other known architects. A lot of them have copied me and I’ve copied them. We all come up with 18 holes and a driving range.”With its drastic elevation changes, breathtaking views and–true to Dye’s design history–highly challenging holes, Lost Canyons has the most fervent golf aficionados itching with anticipation.Months from completion, Dye already is trumpeting Lost Canyons as his masterpiece. “The ambience out here . . . ” Dye said, surveying the tranquil setting. “You can almost feel your way around here and see it’s so different. From a golfer’s point of view, with the views and vistas, I think it’s worth just riding around in the cart or walking around the course, whether you’re playing or not.”Of course, with daily green fees ranging from $115 to $135, golfers won’t be satisfied just to see the sights.The “Sky Course” and “Shadow Course” each will measure about 7,000 yards and both are being sculpted to include various pratfalls. Each hole will be given a name and will include five tee boxes.Couples, 1992 Masters champion and winner of 14 PGA tour titles, has become associated with a number of upscale courses in the past decade. Couples’ agreement led to his becoming a minority owner of Lost Canyons.”I’m fortunate to have the opportunity to work on a golf course with Pete Dye, an architect who has designed some of the most spectacular courses in the world,” Couples said. “Lost Canyons has a team in place that will make it a premier golf destination.”A preview of coming attractions: Devil’s Slide, a 610-yard par five that plays downhill from a tee atop a ridge. Shadow Pass, a 570-yard par five that carries over a saddle and into a valley that includes a five-acre lake. Santa Susana, a par three with an elevated tee, breathtaking panoramic view and distance ranging from 105 to 225 yards. A plateau green is located across a ravine with a fall-away hillside.Like all of Dye’s designs, don’t expect much forgiveness for wayward shots. Dye’s courses have long been considered among the most difficult to negotiate.”If I build them any harder than I’m told I build them, I think I’ll be shot,” Dye said. “I hope it isn’t any harder than the others. We’re trying to make them as equal as possible. I think [Shadow] has a little bit more elevation. “My hope is that when you talk to seven people, you’ll get seven different opinions about the course. The ones who play it well will say it’s fine. The ones who don’t will say it’s terrible.”Copyright 2000 Los Angeles Times