The Pete Dye golf course is located in Bridgeport, West Virginia and is a private golf club which opened in 1994. Not surprisingly, the course was originally going to be called Coal Ridge as it is built within 500 acres of what was a former coal mine in the hill country of Harrison County but it ended up being named after its illustrious architect instead.
The site is owned by the LaRosa family and it is rumoured that their “over involvement” in the construction of the golf course was the main reason why it took so long to get the project from drawing board to opening day some 16 years later. Greens were moved, lakes relocated and fairways repositioned - then sometimes put back in their original position!
In fairness, there was a fair amount of debris to be removed from the site and coal was still being extracted from seams during the development but Dye made more than 150 site visits over the years and no doubt his golfing philosophy evolved during that time so design changes were bound to have been made all along the way, costing more time and money.
Water, in the shape of ponds, creeks or streams, comes into play at nearly half the holes at the Pete Dye course. Wide landing areas and multileveled, bent grass putting surfaces are much in evidence throughout the course which enjoys such a wonderful mountain backdrop.
Several holes stick in the memory. The 435- yard par four 2nd is played from an elevated tee over Simpsons Creek to a fairway that looks a very long way away. The 196-yard par three 7th plays downhill to a large green protected by no fewer than ten bunkers. There’s the par five 504-yard 8th with a sixty feet high rock face to the right of the green. And the 18th, a par four at 500 yards from the championship tee where the drive is played over a stream which then runs down the left side of the fairway to the hole.
Some consider novelty features like the walk-through mineshaft behind the 6th green to the 7th tee and old coal wagons to the left of the fairway at the 10th hole to be in keeping with this golfing equivalent of Disney’s “Big Thunder Mountain” – others might be less charitable and whisper “only in America”.
A great course with outstanding scenery. There are a few unique holes shaped through this mountainous terrain. While not a big fan of the forced carries on 2, 10,and 18, there is plenty to love about the course, especially the par 5 5th.