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Is The Stadium Course The Toughest In The World?

Pete Dye Stadium Course Alcatraz

Did You Know The Stadium Course was removed from the PGA TOUR in 1987 for being too hard?

When Ernie Vossler and Joe Walser told Pete Dye they wanted to create "the hardest damn golf course in the world," Pete made it his business to deliver. He called it the "Stadium" after his ingenious plan to sculpt spectator seating into the natural terrain. Dye carved a course with more square footage of water than fairway, more sand than putting surface, and, as Dye calls it, "the deepest greenside bunker this side of Mars."

So when the PGA TOUR event, The Bob Hope Classic, came to town in 1987 the commission decided to test this theory on the very best in the game. What happened next would leave The Stadium Course out of the PGA TOUR rotation for the next 29 years.

Ben Crenshaw described the scene in the New York Times 1987 article the best. "We were very, very silent," he said. "It's usually more festive. But we all knew what lay ahead." Of the 32 touring pros who played that first day, only eight broke par.

Bob Hope Classic Agreement
1987 Bob Hope Classic Agreement with PGA WEST

As the days rolled on, the tour players' silence turned into loud complaints. Ray Floyd called the course "spiteful" and "belligerent." Tom Watson complained that he was "sick and tired of courses that require you to execute shots that no sane golfer should be expected to play." Los Angeles Times columnist Jim Murray wrote that "you need a camel, a canoe, a priest and a tourniquet to get through it."

On the final day, Pete Dye visited announcers Vin Scully and Lee Trevino to offer his thoughts on the outrage. "I'm glad to hear the golf professional think there's at least a challenge out there. They'll learn to play this golf course. They're great players."

Tribune PGA WEST Controversy Article

Corey Pavin would go on to win The Classic in a late-round battle with Bernhard Langer, but even his 25-foot birdie putt and a 5-under-par 67 win wouldn't stop what happened next. Merely days after the event, over 100 golfers signed a petition to remove the course from rotation.

Corey Pavin Wins 1987 Bob Hope Classic

Thanks to advancements in technology and agronomy, attitudes have mellowed over the last 30 years. Lee Trevino's hole-in-one on the Alcratraz would result in one of golf's most historic moments. Today, the Stadium is the host course for the annual American Express Golf Tournament. With five sets of tees, the course continues to attract players of all skill levels looking to take on one of Pete Dye's most challenging, adrenaline-rushing creations. Do you have what it takes to take on "the hardest damn golf course in the world?" Book your tee time now.

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