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Pete Dye – The Pink Floyd of Golf Course Architects


[Editor’s Note: While we are writing our pieces from Casa de Campo, here is a re-run of Jay’s Pete Dye section of the famous “Which Architect is Which Rock Band” piece featured here. Enjoy. More live reports from Casa de Campo coming soon.]

Pink Floyd – Pete Dye. Pink Floyd has the same monumental legacy as Led Zeppelin, but their music is slightly more accessible to a broader demographic. It’s progressive rock that enjoyed near-universal mainstream popularity, something Yes, Phish, Rush, and Genesis could never do. (Well Genesis became mainstream, but only after Peter Gabriel quit the band and Phil Collins turned into his generation’s Buster Poindexter. Read: sellout. “Illegal Alien” will go down in history as one of pop music’s worst songs, along with “Poker Face” – Christopher Walken and Eric Cartman do better versions – and Queen’s “Radio Ga-ga.” )

For goodness sake, Dark Side of the Moon stayed on the Top 40 album charts in the U.K. for a staggering 14 years! Even Thriller, the U.S.’s longest-running album only charted for just over a year. And The Wall is still the greatest rock opera ever written, edging out both Tommy and Quadrophenia for the honor. They also were – some say still are – the greatest light show ever devised. They once sent all England into panic, filling the skies with balloons of flying pigs when they released Animals.

When it comes to world domination by a band, Floyd may trail only the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, and while the Stones may have been a bigger cultural phenomenon, Floyd’s music is deeper and far more explorative.

Floyd’s prog rock roots are firmly rooted in classical music (as much of prog rock is) and Dye’s design concepts are firmly rooted in his study of classical architecture from the U.K. Early in his career, Dye knew that to carve out a niche in the golf design business, he’d have to go directly opposite to what everyone was doing (everyone being Robert Trent Jones), just as Floyd consciously moved away from the Rolling Stones. Where Floyd is the “anti-Stones,” Dye is the “anti-Jones.” Floyd conquered the World with Dark Side and The Wall, Dye with Sawgrass, Harbour Town, and Kiawah.

Pete Dye is huge like Floyd is huge, and the world reacts to him the same way. They love him, they respect him, they accept his iconicity, they think he’s a little weird and a little impenetrable at times, (unapologetically so) but he’s still regarded as the highest modern standard of the craft of his generation: like Floyd remarkable in his originality, indeed singularity. You know a Dye course when you see it, they are unmistakable. Sure, somebody out there hates Floyd, but they can’t deny them. The same is true of Dye.

And I’ll bet you a dollar that if you showed Dye a picture of the band, he’d ask, “And by the way, which one’s Pink?”