Matt gives the most attention to his greens. He likes to build them with lots of undulation and asserts that many current golf course developments, by gunning for Stimpmeter readings over ten, sometimes prevent architects from designing greens with real character. Plus, he points out, "fast greens are more disease-prone, and they are less suitable for 80 percent of golfers, anyway." This touches on his chief design priorities: cost, playability and strategy. Above all, Matt Dye wants people to be able to afford a round of golf, enjoy it, play quickly and come back. Is this a kinder, gentler Dye?The one rooting for us, the average duffer?Yes and no. He doesn't want patrons of his courses to pay a lot of money to lose a lot of balls, but he still likes to get in their heads. Several tee shots on the Ledges appear to offer U.S. Open–tight landing areas, with bunkers and water more visible than fairway. Hidden mounds might obstruct the approach shots of hitters vying for shortcuts off the tee, and the thirteenth green is designed for a Scottish-style bump-and-run. But the fairways are actually plenty wide, the mounds are only a problem for those with foolish bravado and, as Matt says with a smile, "Every golfer should know how to knock a ball down and run it up to the green."
Perhaps the greatest similarity you could find between Matt and Pete Dye (one of the finest in-the-field architects of all time) is that both love the Caterpillar. From the time Perry Dye sent him to Japan to help shape Golden Lakes CC in the late eighties, Matt has had an affinity for heavy equipment. Get him started on the virtues of D4 and D8 bulldozers and one senses that playing the finished product is only half the fun for him. And he knows that the chance to work with a parcel of land where golf is the central consideration—to date, all of Matt's American courses are nestled in housing developments—will open up a new world of creative possibilities. But for now he's happy making it on his own, and he knows that in time the stages will only get bigger.
"With every year that goes by, fewer people ask me if Uncle Pete will be assisting me on the course," he says proudly. "They're hiring me."
COMPANY Matthew Dye Golf Designs; San Diego
The Carrington Club, Northland, New Zealand (resort, 2003; carringtonclub.com).
Dos Lagos Golf Course, Corona, California (public, 2006; doslagosgolf.com).
El Rio Country Club, Fort Mohave, Arizona (public, 2005; elriocountryclub.com).
The Ledges, St. George, Utah (semiprivate, 2006; ledges.com).
Hidden Valley CC, Sandy, Utah (private, twenty-seven-hole remodel scheduled to open in 2008; hiddenvalley.cc).