Indiana tourism leaders have recruited legendary golf course architect Pete Dye to help promote a new effort that will showcase some of his best designs and draw more visitors to the state.
Dye joined Gov. Mitch Daniels and other officials Thursday morning at Brickyard Crossing in Indianapolis to launch the Pete Dye Golf Trail, a collection of seven public courses he selected for the campaign.
Besides Brickyard Crossing, other courses on the trail are The Fort Golf Resort and Maple Creek Golf & Country Club in Indianapolis; Plum Creek Golf Club in Carmel; Mystic Hills Golf Club in Culver; Kampen Course in Lafayette; and The Pete Dye Course at French Lick.
Tourism officials are marketing the trail as an opportunity to give both Hoosiers and visitors an opportunity to play Dye-designed courses at a reduced rate. Players who complete the trail within a calendar year will be rewarded with a commemorative gift.
Jeff Williams, Brickyard Crossing’s director of golf, said he's honored that Dye chose the course to be part of the trail.
“Indiana has the best collection of Pete Dye courses in the country, and he happens to live here,” Williams said. “We are so proud to be a part of the deal.”
Dye, 85, has designed about 90 courses, including more than 20 in Indiana, the most of any state. He said he's proud of all his creations, but one in particular on the trail—his course at French Lick—draws his highest praise. It opened in 2007.
“That was the ultimate golf course I ever built,” Dye told IBJ. “It’s on the highest point in southern Indiana. It’s unbelievable. You can see for miles down there.”
The Indianapolis Convention & Visitors Association has begun promoting the trail with a 30-second television advertisement airing on the Golf Channel in the Chicago and Louisville markets.
“He is revered worldwide as the father of golf course architecture,” the segment says. “This is your invitation to travel his home state in Indiana and play a collection of courses that could only come from the mind of Pete Dye.”
The ICVA, in partnership with the Indiana Office of Tourism Development and convention bureaus near the courses, plans to seek state funding to place signage along the interstates.
Signs in Alabama promoting its Robert Trent Jones Trail caught the eye last year of Daniels, who suggested the ICVA help launch a similar attraction in Indiana.
The Alabama trail, which features 26 courses from designer Jones, consistently has ranked as one of the state’s top tourist destinations since opening in 1992.
ICVA spokesman Chris Gahl recalled a conversation with the governor in which he asked if the association could create a similar trail to honor Dye. ICVA spent the past year with officials from the courses Dye selected to coordinate the project.
“If you look at Michigan and Florida and what they’ve done with golf tourism, Indiana had an opportunity because Pete and Alice Dye are residents,” Gahl said.
Dye, who moved to Indianapolis from Ohio in 1950 after marrying Alice, has been an ambassador for the game for more than 50 years.
He worked on a golf course as a youngster and became greens keeper at the Fort Bragg base course in North Carolina while serving in the Army following World War II.
No slouch with the clubs either, Dye won the Indiana State Amateur Championship in 1958 and finished second twice.
But it’s his designs that catapulted him into golfing fame. He built his first course, the Eldorado in Greenwood (now called Dye’s Walk Country Club), in 1960.
The then-president of the University of Michigan, Harlan Hatcher, played the course on a trip to Indiana, Dye recalled. Impressed with the layout, Hatcher commissioned Dye to design a course for the university.
“I’ve been building ever since,” Dye said. “Isn’t that something?”
More information on the trail is available here.