Alice Dye, Innovative Golf Course Designer, Is Dead at 91

Alice Dye, who teamed with her husband, Pete, to pioneer modern golf-course architecture and worked to promote the women’s game for more than half a century, died on Friday in Gulf Stream, Fla. She was 91.

Her death was announced by Dye Designs, the family’s company.

The Dyes designed dozens of venues, in the United States and abroad, many of them regularly ranked among the best in the world and frequently chosen to host professional tournaments.

That roster includes the stadium course at TPC Sawgrass, in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.; PGA West, near Palm Springs, Calif.; Whistling Straits, on Lake Michigan in Sheboygan, Wis.; the Ocean Course, on Kiawah Island in South Carolina; Harbour Town Golf Links, in Hilton Head, S.C.; and Crooked Stick, in Alice’s hometown, Indianapolis.

Their courses were generally known as Pete Dye designs, but Alice provided significant input, and her husband usually took her advice.

Their signature hole was the 17th at TPC Sawgrass, the home of the Players Championship. When Pete was unsure how to fill in sandy terrain he had hollowed out around the green for transfer to other spots on the course, Alice provided the solution.

“Originally, the water was just supposed to come into play on the right side, but we just kept digging,” the Golf Channel quoted Mr. Dye as saying. “And then one day Alice came out and said, ‘Why don’t you just go ahead and make it an island?’ So we did.”

That green, connected to the rest of the course by a slender land bridge, has tormented even the world’s greatest golfers and become one of the most recognized images in the sport.

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Alice and Pete Dye in 2015 alongside the 18th green at the Bridgewater Club, outside Indianapolis. The Dyes designed the course.CreditJoe Vitti/IndyStar

When they were building the Ocean Course on Kiawah Island in 1990, Ms. Dye persuaded her husband to raise the fairways to harmonize them with the environment.

“Pete, I can’t see the ocean on the back nine,” she said, as related by The New York Times. “I don’t just want to hear it; I want to see it.”

Mr. Dye raised the fairways by six feet so that the ocean came into view. But that created an added challenge by exposing the course to unpredictable, sometimes strong winds.

Both husband and wife were avid golfers, but Ms. Dye was the more accomplished of the two; she won some 50 amateur titles as well as two United States Golf Association senior championships and two Canadian senior championships. She played on the United States’ victorious Curtis Cup team in 1970.

In 1983, Ms. Dye was the first woman admitted to the American Society of Golf Course Architects. In 1997, she became the first woman to serve as the society’s president. She received the PGA of America’s First Lady of Golf Award in 2004.

Ms. Dye championed forward tees that make formidable courses more playable for most women as well as for male players outside the pro ranks.

“I worked very hard on trying to get the two-tee system for women,” she told the PGA of America. “I was successful in getting the yardage down between 5,000 and 5,200 yards.”

“We’re total opposites,” Ms. Dye said when she and Mr. Dye were interviewed by PBS in 2012. “He’s artistic and I’m the practical one.”

The Dyes’ signature hole was the 17th at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., the home of the Players Championship. That green, connected to the rest of the course by a slender land bridge, has tormented even the world’s greatest golfers and become one of the most recognized images in the sport.CreditChris Condon/PGA Tour, via Getty Images

On her death, Ron Whitten wrote in Golf Digest: “She was the more successful competitive golfer, with a supple swing. She was a better politician than Pete when it came to dealing with owners and regulators, more polished in presentations and communications. As a golf architect, she was the more knowledgeable of the two, teaching Pete how to read contour maps and handling most of his drawings.”

In his memoir, “Bury Me in a Pot Bunker” (1995, with Mark Shaw), Pete Dye wrote of his wife, “She may have taken a back seat to whatever publicity I’ve had over the last 30 years, but everyone in the golf industry knows how important her contributions have been, since she has such an intuition for what makes a golf course challenging but playable.”

Alice O’Neal was born in Indianapolis on Feb. 19, 1927, to Perry and Lucy (Holliday) O’Neal. Her father, a corporate lawyer, was an avid golfer.

Alice developed her smooth swing at a local country club junior class and began winning tournaments as a teenager.

She met Mr. Dye when they were students at Rollins College, in Winter Park, Fla., where she was captain of the women’s golf team and also played on the men’s squad along with Pete. Alice graduated in 1948, but Pete dropped out. They were married in 1950 and settled in Indianapolis.

The couple were selling insurance there in the mid-1950s when they decided to pursue golf-course design. They advanced their knowledge of the profession when they toured Britain in 1963 and visited numerous courses.

Alice Dye is survived by her husband; their sons, Perry and Paul Burke (known as P.B.) Dye; two grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren. Both sons are golf architects with Dye Designs.

Ms. Dye looked back on her career in a book of her own, “From Birdies to Bunkers: Discover How Golf Can Bring Love, Humor, and Success Into Your Life” (2004), also written with Mr. Shaw.

Into her 80s, she offered insights for women who play golf.

“Because they have to tee off last on so many holes, a lot of women get self-conscious and worry that everyone is analyzing or judging their golf swing,” she told The Times in 2012. “That’s not true. They might be looking at their shoes or their hat. Most men don’t know enough about the golf swing to analyze it.”

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