News Article | 3/31/2000

To Dye For

Los Angeles County Golf MagazineMarch 2000

To Dye For BY Al Petersen, Los Angeles County Golf

Just the mention of his name sends a shiver up the spine of some of the best golfers in the world. No, it’s not the fear that comes from playing against the power of Tiger Woods or seeing the cold, calculated stare of David Duval. This intimidating figure is 74 years old and doesn’t play competitive golf. He’s Pete Dye, a man who has brought many golf professionals to their knees through his course designs. Now, the man who made island greens, pot bunkers, railroad ties and stadium seating a popular trend on golf courses in the United States, is bringing his design talents to Lost Canyons Golf Club, a magnificent venue in Simi Valley that will have 36 holes open to the public later this year. So what diabolical schemes is Dye dreaming up to frustrate Los Angeles-area golfers who come to Lost Canyons? In a word, none. This is the most majestic-looking piece of property I’ve ever had to work with,” Dye said during a February walk-through on some of the soon-to-be fairways and greens at Lost Canyons. “Out here, the topography dictates the whole course. Nothing needs to be tricked up or artificial. The ambience and vistas are here. Now, if we can make it so people can play it, then we’ll be in good shape.” Landmark National, the development and management company hired to build Lost Canyons, hopes that people will be able to play the Tapo Canyon Course in October and the Dry Canyon Course in December. Jay Colliatie, the director of golf at Lost Canyons, said that playing the course will be worth the drive for people making the short trip from Los Angeles or a lengthier trip from Orange County. “The demographics tell us that the Southern California golfer will easily drive an hour for good golf; it’s our feeling that they’ll drive farther for great golf,” said Colliatie, who worked at PGA West in Palm Springs and Pelican Hill in Newport Coast before moving to Landmark National. “To be able to go just a short distance from the middle of L.A. to out here and see these dramatic views is amazing, and I think the golfers who come out here will be amazed that an area this beautiful, this quiet and this big is so close to home.” Indeed, Lost Canyons is a venue that a golfer will have to see to believe. All 36 holes on the two courses will wind through canyons at the foothills of the Santa Susana Mountains. Remember “The Big Valley”? The 1960s television show was shot in this location. In fact, the 1,700-acre site was a cattle ranch before being purchased for the golf course. With the many elevation changes and unobstructed views of the mountains and meadows, it’s easy to see why Dye is enthusiastic about the project. “Lost Canyons may be the best site I have ever been given for golf,” said the man who has designed such notable courses as Crooked Stick, Harbour Town Links, TPC at Sawgrass and the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island. “Without a question, I’ve never experienced anything like this. Nothing comes close. There’s been nothing I’ve had the opportunity to work with that has been nearly as dramatic as this. The long views and topography here are just spectacular.” But with beauty comes a beast, and the two courses at Lost Canyons will be a tough test of golf for players of all levels. The courses will be difficult for high-handicappers, but Dye said they’re the people he keeps in mind when designing courses because scenery is often more important to that level of player than strategy is for scratch golfers. The only people who don’t like a hard golf course are golf professionals,” said Dye, who lives in Delray Beach, Fla. “High-handicappers would climb Mt. Everest to play golf and love it. Lost Canyons will be a difficult course but I have to believe that golfers will enjoy it, talk about it and want to come back a thousand times.” A thousand times? Golf brings out that type of passion in Dye, who has qualified for numerous USGA amateur and professional events and who “shot his age” last year at Teeth of the Dog in the Dominican Republic, a course he designed that hosted a recent World Cup match. But it’s his wife, Alice, who has bragging rights on the golf course and is a pioneer for women in golf policymaking. Alice Dye, who won nearly 50 major amateur championships and is the first woman to be an independent director of the PGA of America, is the driving force behind the Dye family’s golfing legacy. “Dad’s a golf course legend,” said Perry Dye, the 48-year-old son of Pete and Alice who was visiting his father at Lost Canyons during the February walk-through, “but we all live in the shadow of Mom. ” Pete said his wife has a great eye for golf course architecture and typically waits until a project is near completion before holding a critique session. ” And then we suffer,” Dye said. “I respect her input, and she’s very vocal about it.” It will be a few months before Alice is able to provide input on the work being done at Lost Canyons, but Perry said the planning stages of the project has gotten his father’s juices flowing again. “He looks energized by the property and this golf course,” said Perry, who is based out of Denver. “He’s in his element right now, visualizing the layout. It’s like the old Pete, where he used to get a napkin and sketch things out while walking the property. Today, of course, there’s a few more regulations to follow than there were 30 years ago.” A lot has changed in the industry since Dye left the insurance business in 1959 and embarked on a career in golf course architecture. A trip to Scotland in 1963 had a big influence on his designs, and he began integrating Scottish traditions into his layouts in the United States. While the golf course architecture business has changed a great deal in 40 years, with governmental regulations and environmental issues coming to the forefront, so has the caliber of golfers and the clubs they use. “Players today have reduced many courses to 3-irons and wedges to the green on a typical par 4,” Dye said. “Equipment has eliminated a lot of the strategy that used to come into play. Also, golf course maintenance, even more so than swings and skill levels, has contributed to players overpowering many courses these days.” His response to professionals who complain about some of his layouts? “I hope they hate me,” he said, “because that means I’m doing something to bring a little more strategy and finesse back into the game.” Dye brushes away the notion that he’s an innovator when it comes to course design, saying that there hasn’t been anything new in golf course construction “since day one.” Every hazard and look that he’s designed into courses during his career were, in some effect, already at courses in Europe that were developed near the turn of the century, he said. ” It’s always been there someplace,” Dye said of architectural techniques. “Now that Americans are golf crazy, they see my course designs as something new, but I can’t take total credit for everything I’ve brought to the game. ” Now, at the turn of another century, Dye is still at the top of his game, and officials at Landmark National are thrilled that he’s part of their team at Lost Canyons. “This is an exciting time, and a lot of that has to do with Pete Dye being out here,” Colliatie said. “We really feel that this piece of property fits Pete’s personality in the fact that there’s so much land. He’s told me that this is the best piece of property he’s ever had to work with, so we’re all excited and think that we have something really special here