Alice Dye: The First Lady of Golf Course Architecture – Donald Ross Award Recipient

Alice Dye has been a pioneer for women’s golf and one of the industry’s most influential golf course architects, a Past President of the American Society of Golf Course Architects(ASGCA), and an ASGCA Fellow. Recently Alice was presented with the 2017 Donald Ross Award. Oh, by the way, she is married to a fellow named Pete.

Born in Indianapolis, Indiana in 1927, Alice Dye enjoyed a highly successful amateur golf career. She triumphed at the Indiana State Championships on nine occasions, won eleven Indianapolis City Championships and three Florida State Championships. Alice also won the Doherty Cup and earned herself a place on the winning 1970 U.S. team for the 32nd Curtis Cup played at the historical Brae Burn Country Club in Massachusetts.

She met her future husband at Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida and the couple married in 1950 and moved to Indiana where he worked as a salesman for The Connecticut Mutual Life Insurance Company. One day in 1955, Pete came home and told Alice, “I’m tired of the insurance business. What I really want to do is build golf courses.”

Pete was also a very good golfer, and had been learning about course maintenance while chairman of the greens committee of Indianapolis Country Club. Both Alice and he gradually turned this interest into a profession, designing their first nine holes at El Dorado( now named Dye’s Walk C.C.) in Greenwood, Indiana in 1959. Shortly after, the couple designed Maple Creek Golf & Country Club, their first 18-hole layout. Their commitment to golf course design was cemented after a tour of Scottish courses they undertook after Pete competed in the 1963 British Amateur at St. Andrews. They brought home the ideas they witnessed on the links of Scotland.

“Both Pete and I were champion golfers and played famous courses which influenced our design features,” said Alice. “I think our golfing ability was significant to our design work. It helped us make tees for all abilities, as we truly understand the game. I have worked hard on playable yardages for women. “

Her Two Tee System for Women encouraged clubs to introduce an additional set of forward tees for women.
“Her system was devised to accommodate female players with differing skill sets,” says ASGCA Past President Greg Martin. “This may seem obvious to us today, but when she came up with the system decades ago it was ahead of its time.”

Over the years the couple has gone on to create some of the most highly-rated courses in the U.S. and beyond, including Crooked Stick in Indiana, Harbor Town Golf Links on Hilton Head Island, The Ocean Course at Kiawah Island and TPC Sawgrass, home of the Players in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, where Alice famously suggested an island green for the par three 17th hole.

“Every course we have built has been a special project for us,” says Alice. “All of our course features are designed on site, so each course has original holes and greens.”

The Dye’s legacy stretches far beyond their golf courses. Many of golf’s leading course designers have honed their craft while working alongside them, including Jack Nicklaus, ASGCA Fellow Bill Coore, Bobby Weed, Tom Doak and Tim Liddy.

The couple’s sons, P.B. and Perry are members of the ASGCA and are designing their own golf courses. “Growing up, they loved riding on the equipment,” says Alice, “but approached our occupation slowly.” Many other members of the extended family are now also involved in golf course architecture, including their niece, Cynthia Dye McGarey, ASGCA, whose eagerly awaited West Cliffs course in Portugal is opening this summer.

Alice Dye’s significant contributions to the game of golf have gotten her recognized as the ASGCA Donald Ross Award winner for 2017. “Being the first female member, I have great respect for the American Society of Golf Course Architects,” says Alice. “The Donald Ross Award means that they respect my work, so I am deeply touched.”

Dave Daubert

David, Editor & Feature Writer, has been writing about golf since the turn of the century. He was Managing Editor at a regional golf magazine for 11 years, published in Canada, the IAGTO and a Staff Writer for The Georgia Golf Trail. His insightful perspective brings golf to life.

Comments are closed.