RIP Pete Dye, Whose First 18 Hole Course Was Michigan’s Radrick Farms
World Golf Hall of Fame Architect Pete Dye has passed away at age 94.
I will leave it to others to recount Dye’s groundbreaking and influential career. I will note, however, that here in Ann Arbor, we have Pete Dye’s first 18 hole design: The University of Michigan’s Radrick Farms golf course.
Michigan therefore is the place that launched Dye’s career.
Land and funds for the Radrick Farms course were donated in 1957 by UM alumnus Frederick C. Matthaei. The property was named in honor of his sons, Konrad and Frederick.
In the early 1960s, Michigan women’s golf coach Barbara Rotvig — a friend of Matthaei — was slated to design the course. Rotvig tragically died of cancer, however, and the University assigned landscape architect graduate student Bill Newcomb the job of routing 36 holes. As part of his project, Newcomb was tasked with making a list of possible architects for the project. Among others, Newcomb suggested Robert Trent Jones, Dick Wilson and Pete Dye.
Newcomb — who knew Dye through their stellar amateur careers — suggested that University of Michigan President Harlan Hatcher play Dye’s nine-hole Indiana course. Hatcher was impressed and with Newcomb’s recommendation, Dye was hired for the job.
The design was completed in 1965, but the course was not actually finished until 1967.
Newcomb went on to a three year apprenticeship with Dye and then became a successful golf architect in his own right. Among his designs are the the Alpine and Monument courses at Boyne Mountain; The Donald Ross at Boyne Highlands; Travis Pointe and Polo Fields in Ann Arbor; the Golf Club at Thornapple Pointe in Grand Rapids; The Medalist in Marshall; and Calderone in Grass Lake. He also served as the University of Michigan’s Golf Coach.
Dye — and his wife Alice — now are legendary.
Another Michigan connection is that Pete Dye played in the inaugural Motor City Open — the first PGA TOUR even in the Detroit area. You can read about the first Motor City Open at the link.
Ann Arbor — a city of just 100,000 — has quite the collection of courses: A Pete Dye, an Alistair Mackenzie, a Donald Ross, a Tom Bendelow, a couple of Arthur Hills, and a Bill Newcomb.
We are golf blessed.
Goodbye Pete Dye — and thank you for giving us all so many hours of enjoyment.