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The Green Dream Team: Tim Liddy and Mike O’Connor on Pete Dye and His Legacy

Tim Liddy with Pete Dye


Anticipation is building for the second phase of restoration on the iconic PGA WEST® Pete Dye Stadium Course starting in May. We recently sat down with the project’s golf course architect Tim Liddy, ASGCA Fellow, and experienced project manager Mike O’Connor. Liddy spearheaded the initial phase of the Stadium Course’s restoration in 2022 and led last summer’s rejuvenation of the Pete Dye Mountain and Dunes Courses with O’Connor. Though Liddy and O’Connor had individually collaborated with Pete Dye over the years, it wasn’t until last year’s restoration project they joined forces. With a combined experience of over 60 years working alongside the legendary Pete Dye on championship golf courses throughout the U.S. and abroad, both men bring an intuitive knowledge of Dye’s vision to the restoration.

A trailblazer in golf design

Renowned for his innovative design approaches, Pete Dye revolutionized golf course architecture by implementing creative strategies that distinguished him from his contemporaries.

Golf Course architect Tim Liddy, ASGCA Fellow

“He brought the Scottish influence from his trip to Scotland and incorporated it into his design philosophies,” said Liddy. “This is illustrated in his early work, especially The Golf Club in New Albany, Ohio using what became many of his signature design elements—railroad ties, pot bunkers and new shot strategies based on his travels.


“I’ve learned so much from Pete, and I can’t stress it enough: He influenced every golf course architect working today,” Liddy added.

Mr. Dye, with the influence of his wife Alice, designed difficult golf courses while at the same time making them very playable for the average golfer. Plenty of width off the tee, open approaches into the green as well as his strategic use of playing angles were just a few of his contributions to golf course design. They looked intimidating and hard but always played easier than they looked.

Liddy and O’Connor also spoke about Dye’s passion for designing and his hands-on approach, spending extensive time on golf course sites to ensure all the elements were perfect.

Mike O'Connor with Pete Dye and team at Casa Del Campo in Dominican Republic

“He would get all the details right,” recalled Liddy. “Believe it or not, on a golf course of 160 acres a couple of inches on the horizon can make a big difference visually. One of the biggest lessons I learned from Pete is you must be onsite to orchestrate your concepts.” Although preliminary design work in the office is important, I learned from Mr. Dye you build a great golf course, not design it in the office.


O’Connor agreed, “One of the reasons I loved working with Pete is because he put so much time and effort into his work.”


He recalled the time when he first worked with Dye in 1985 on the Citrus Course in La Quinta and how Dye had his team on the construction site for a solid 15 hours refining every aspect before breaking ground.

O’Connor also shared an anecdote about the time he worked on Dye’s Whistling Straits Golf Course for the Kohler Company, logging 93 hours one week on his timecard. Kohler employees thought he was padding his hours, but Executive Chairman Herbert Kohler never questioned him.

Mike O'Connor with Pete Dye building Whistling Straits in Kohler

“When I told Pete about it, he grabbed me by both shoulders and said, ‘Don’t worry about it; they don’t get it,’ because most people never even came close to putting in the hours that he did. He [Dye] was a craftsman, he loved it, and it wasn’t work to him,” O’Connor said.

Dye’s ace in the hole

Both noted that Dye’s wife Alice played an integral role in ensuring that courses didn’t exceed playability for intermediate golfers.


“He had a secret weapon and that was his wife Alice Dye,” said Liddy. “Pete was famous for going to— or over— the edge in terms of playability and Alice would rein him back in. She would tell him, ‘You know you can still make this difficult for the good player, but you’ve got to make it playable for the average golfer.’”


“She was very knowledgeable; as smart as any woman that’s ever been in the game of golf and she had a keen eye for detail,” added O’Connor.

Upholding the Legacy

Their collaboration on the Mountain and Dunes Courses last year stirred deeper emotions than either had anticipated. “Of course, Mike’s an emotional guy,” Liddy quips, prompting laughter from O’Connor.  Their mutual admiration for Dye forged a strong bond between them, leading to a highly productive working relationship.


“For both Mike and me, preserving Pete Dye’s work is very personal and when we will be working on the Stadium Course, his voice will be ringing in our ears,” Liddy said. “It’s a great opportunity for both of us.”


“It’s really an honor and a privilege to go rebuild Pete’s greens with Tim.” O’Connor said. “We both understand the way that he thought, and I can’t wait to get there.”

Stadium Course #6: photo credit JP Henebry





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