The Dye’s Valley course at TPC Sawgrass is yet another club that gets much less attention than it deserves on account of having a World Top 100 golf course (and PGA host) right next door.
Many PGA pros believed Pete Dye needed to be cooled down after the initial run of The Players Championship, and Jerry Pate did the honor by tossing the architect in a lake following his win at the 1982 event. The golfer was given a second opportunity to temper Dye when he was named player consultant for the Dye’s Valley course just five years later (it was also a major coming out moment for then Dye associate Bobby Weed).
Still, Pate won that initial tournament, so clearly he didn’t mind Dye’s methodology too much, and the resulting 18 is not a total walk in the park (although everything is a relative walk in the park post-Stadium). Water hazards are still a significant part of play, lining many holes, if not requiring the same number of forced carries as the Stadium Course.
Still, at around 6,850 yards, it allows less-skilled golfers a chance to experience The Players’ mindset. There’s still plenty enough challenge to make one consider dunking Dye in a pond post-round.
A nice course. The par threes are particularly fun (although repetitive). Obviously it is the small brother on the property, but it's a fun course nonetheless.
This review is mostly for comedic purposes because it comes with a major caveat. I’ve played the Valley course only once: the very first “real” eighteen-hole round of my life at the age of nine.
At the time, I’d played a number of nine-hole rounds on full size courses around St. Louis and had quite a few ride-alongs with my father where I’d play a hole or two here or there (including the day before at the Stadium where I managed to hit the 17th green on the second try from the front tees) – but never anything like this. I remember the course as lush and intimidating and the railroad ties as unforgiving as I bounced a couple of balls off of them. I still have the scorecard, however, which shows that despite subsequent renovations the routing appears to be (mostly) the same – the nines are switched, and the old 8th hole (now 17th) was converted to a par five. Evidently I shot 119 from the front tees, which I’m sure included a few gimmes along the way! Thanks to Alice Dye though, the front tees were playable for a child, which couldn’t be said about a lot of courses in the late ‘80s/early ‘90s.
Since I clearly didn’t have a serious knowledge of golf course architecture as a young child, my rating will fall to the consensus on this site. Still, the fact remains that the Valley – and Pete Dye's courses in general – played a huge role in developing this young man’s passion for the game.
After the 2 rounds at the Hall of Fame courses we followed with 4 rounds at TPC Sawgrass, 2 at the Valley Course and 2 at the Stadium. It was great to play them twice in alternate days for all the group, as they were able to get familiar with the holes, the greens speed, fairways and how demanding the views from the tee boxes are and 4 days of great climate conditions to play golf.
This Dye Valley Course has the same problem of some other courses having an extremely famous neighbour like New/Jubilee at St Andrews, Spyglass at Pebble, Pinehurst #4, Real Sotogrande and some other where the aura and fame of the big one shades on the other course which can be even as good as the main one.
The Valley Course is great from 1 to 18, with a fanatastic finishing stretch, great par 3s, a couple of very good reachable par 4s and the feeling that if you wish to score you have to hit it staright of the tee, be accurate with approach shots, miss on the correct side and putt really well. There is not one single weak hole, not one hole where the birdie is done without having to hit real good shots and of course many nice views.
Talking of greatness, this Pete Dye jewel has a couple of holes that are even better than many of the Stadium ones:
- 6th is probably the best par 4 on the 36 holes property, with water all over the right side and two very demanding shots.
- 11th is a hell of a par 3, 240 yds with water on the right and no space on the left from the back tee.
- 16 and 17 are 2 great and different par 5s, the first one a 3 shooter for almost all of us, the second reachable but to a very small green with water on the left and danger on the right side.
Having it played twice, starting on 1 and 10 once each, made me a complete picture of the course and I have to say it is an absolute must. Many may have seen it in the Web.Com Tour Finals where Emiliano Grillo won once in 2015, if you have the chance to play The Stadium do not miss the Valley, it is almost as good and for sure much more fun.
It’s always great to come to a venue where there are two very different courses and that’s certainly the case at Sawgrass.
Pete Dye is known for making courses tricky and uneasy on the eye from the tee, which is what you get here. The quality of the design keeps you on your toes and constantly asks questions about how to play each hole, no matter where you position yourself. A superb layout creates a need for a variety of shot making and utilises water hazards on both sides of the fairway through the front 9.
The final stretch is incredibly intimidating and obviously set out to challenge the better player, with water running all down the left on all of the final 3 holes.
As the second course at Sawgrass, Pete Dye could have been excused for making this an average resort course, but it’s far from average. The quality of the conditioning and the consideration that has gone into creating a unique journey through the 18 holes makes this a must play course.