Bobby Weed has been around golf practically his entire life, from working as a kid at his family’s driving range, the now-defunct Weed Hill in Irmo, to a career in golf course architecture in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., a few miles from PGA Tour headquarters.
For most of that time, about 40 years, Weed has been a student, protégé and now colleague of Pete Dye, one of golf design’s greats and creator of Kiawah Island’s Ocean Course and Hilton Head’s Harbour Town Golf Links, South Carolina’s two best-known courses, as well as Hilton Head’s Long Cove Club, also ranked among the nation’s finest.
Recently, Weed finished what he called “the most comprehensive, sympathetic restoration of an original Pete Dye course without Pete doing all the work himself,” at The Medalist in Hobe Sound, Fla. “I took Pete there, rode him around and got his blessing – which means a lot to me,” he said.
Thursday, Weed teams up with Golf Channel’s “Travel Insider” Matt Ginella to host the Dye-focused, 7:30 a.m. episode of GC’s “Architecture Week.” The weeklong series, which began Monday and concludes Sunday, airs during the network’s “Morning Drive” program.
The series, Ginella said, was done to educate golf fans in architecture’s role in the game. “We want viewers to absorb more of the game than chasing a (score),” he said. “When you say who designed a course … that opens up another set of questions, and answers.”
Dye, with wife/partner Alice and architect sons Perry and P.B., has designed more than 200 courses worldwide. Other S.C. courses by Dye include Columbia’s Windermere Club and Myrtle Beach’s Barefoot Resort Dye Course. P.B. Dye built Columbia’s The Spur at Northwoods.
As important as his own work, Weed said, is Dye’s “family tree” of architects – Weed, Gil Hanse and Tom Doak, among others – who perpetuate the 89-year-old’s hands-on philosophy. “All the people he’s influenced and helped get into golf course architecture – that’s equal to his golf courses, I think,” Weed said. “Both will live on for generations to come.”
Weed says a hallmark of Dye’s work is that – contrary to his reputation of building brutal tests for the PGA Tour, earning him the nickname “Marquis de Sod” – he’s also produced courses playable and enjoyable for less-skilled, weekend players.
“He thinks about that probably more passionately than anyone I’ve ever seen,” Weed said. “From Pete’s standpoint, he wants to challenge the best players, but also make it fun and interesting.”
For example, Ginella calls Dye’s Colleton River in Bluffton “one of my favorites, so playable, so much fun, but with a dramatic finish.
Dye also embraces his role as a golf course “builder,” rather than “designer.” It’s about a man whose “design work” mostly takes place on a bulldozer, not at a computer.
“The answer for Pete is in the dirt,” Ginella said. “At the end of his work day, he takes off a pair of muddy boots, leaves them at the front door and goes to bed.”
Similarly, Weed lived at Hobe Sound during that project, “sunup to sundown, 24/7. That comes from how I learned working for Pete,” he said. “Show me a golf course built from a set of plans, and I’ll show you a bad golf course.”
Golf Channel’s Dye episode offers insight into this fascinating, if quirky, genius, whose muddy footprints are all over golf design – and could be for a few more years.
“Pete’s got six projects underway and another six on the horizon,” Ginella said. “I asked him, ‘Can you imagine building courses until you’re 100 years old?’ And he said, ‘Six new (projects), at 2-3 years each – that gets me almost there.”
That’ll take time – if you will, by design. “Pete always told us, don’t be afraid to re-do or reshape (a golf hole),” Weed said. “Don’t walk away until you’re completely satisfied.
“It’s like he says: ‘A golf course is never finished.’” Neither is Pete Dye.
Upcoming “Architecture Week” shows will focus on Doak’s Forest Dunes project in Michigan and 2006 U.S. Open champion and budding architect Geoff Ogilvy (Friday); Robert Trent Jones Jr. and Rees Jones, sons (and feuding designers) of famed architect Robert Trent Jones (Saturday); and 2015 U.S. Open site Chambers Bay (Sunday).
For a look at the complete “Architecture Week” lineup, visit www.golfchannel.com.