Late golf course architect Pete Dye left Lansing connections

French Canadian Gilles Gagnon, who played hockey at Michigan State University from 1969-73, is mourning the recent loss of his mentor and dear friend Pete Dye, the golf course architect from Ohio who designed his way into the Hall of Fame.

Pete Dye

Merrilee Gagnon, Pete Dye, Alice Dye and Gilles Gagnon at Casa de Campo in 2016. (Photo by Gilles Gagnon)

Dye, who was 94, passed away in January at Casa de Campo, the golf resort in the Dominican Republic where Gagnon has been golf professional since 1980. Dye created the world famous “Teeth of the Dog” golf course there and had a home on its oceanfront par-3, seventh hole.

“He was here for the last six weeks of his life dealing with dementia but a smile always came over his face when we took him on a golf cart and drove him around his beautiful ‘Teeth of the Dog’ golf course. He passed away peacefully,” Gagnon told me.

Gagnon said Dye was like a father to him, and though Pete had children, P.B. and Perry, who also became architects, Teeth of the Dog was also his baby.

 “In 1971 there was not much equipment in the Dominican Republic so he and the local laborers used machetes, picks, shovels and oxen. The course was built on coral along the ocean so it was an amazing feat. There wasn’t a single tree then, so every palm tree and mango tree you see there now were planted by Pete Dye,” said Gagnon. He said Dye named Teeth of the Dog after the sharp, perilous rocks along the ocean’s edge the locals warned him about by calling them dientes del perro. “Pete always has had funny names for things. He went into town and paid $60 for a dog so he named it ‘Sixty.’”
 Dye went on to design big-name professional tournament courses such as Harbour Town; the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island; PGA West; and a number of tracks at Whistling Straits on Lake Michigan in Wisconsin, there is another Lansing connection. Eagle Eye Golf Club’s island green 17th hole was built, in homage and with Dye’s blessing, as an exact replica of the infamous 17th hole he and his late wife, Alice, designed at TPC Sawgrass – seen by millions each year during the PGA Tour’s Players Championship. Eagle Eye GC is home to the Michigan PGA headquarters.

“Kevin Helm, the Michigan PGA executive director, held a tournament here on the number of Pete Dye courses we have here at Casa de Campo. I love Michigan people and hope we are together again soon,” said Gagnon.

Arthur Hills re-designed the Forest Akers West Golf Course at Michigan State, and although he was an Ohio-born competitor of Dye’s, he was also an admirer of Dye’s sometimes outrageous layout features. “Pete was a ‘Picasso’ of golf course architecture. Someone who created a non-traditional design, whether it’s a painting, a sculpture or a golf course,” Hills told ESPN.

I encountered Dye outside his house walking his dog one evening along the closing holes of his Crooked Stick GC near Indianapolis. He and wife Alice both provided me with compelling stories for my book “Secrets of the Great Golf Course Architects.” In their chapter the Dye’s self-deprecating one about one of their first projects: “A local farmer gave us a job to build nine holes. Our carefully drawn routing crossed the creek 13 times and included trees, bunkers and small, severely-contoured greens. We were not hired to build the second nine.”

Contact Travel Writer Michael Patrick Shiels at His radio program may be heard weekdays at or in Lansing on WJIM am 1240 from 9-noon. His newest book “I Call Him Mr. President” with George HW Bush is at

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