The Dye Course at White Oak's par-3 17th.
The par-5 12th.
White Oak's par-4 fifth.
From architecture editor Derek Duncan:
The Dye Course at White Oak, our 2022 Best New Private Course winner, is one of the most exclusive golf courses to be built in recent memory. It’s located on the border of Florida and Georgia outside Jacksonville, in almost complete natural isolation. It has no members, no on-site clubhouse (or any other structures on or near the course), and hardly anyone has played it except for personal invitees of owner Mark Walter and several dozen Golf Digest panelists, who visited between October 2021 and September 2022.
Walter engaged the late Pete Dye to design the course in 2013, but by the time construction began in 2017, Dye’s health had deteriorated, and he was no longer able to be active in building it. The job of finishing White Oak fell to longtime confidant and veteran course builder Allan MacCurrach, who interpreted Dye’s wishes based on extensive discussions from previous years and his own wealth of experience working with Dye on over 20 projects.
Intensely private and almost entirely off the radar until now, this exclusive video tour captured by photographer Brian Oar offers the first public looks at The Dye Course at White Oak.
Elements of White Oak resemble well-known Pete Dye courses. The composition of the holes, bordered by sand areas and native lowland grasses and vegetation, are reminiscent of parts of The Ocean Course at Kiawah Island or Whistling Straits, without the water views.
Were the par-4 first shrouded in pines it would feel at home at Harbour Town. MacCurrach and Dye spoke regularly about making the design of White Oak more reflective of Dye's early work at courses like Harbour Town, TPC Sawgrass and the Honors Course.
Though the White Oak site, located in a remote part of northwest Florida, didn't give Dye much topography to work with, the neutrality of the land became an ideal platform upon which to create a variety of bunker shapes, horizon lines, color contrast and visual texture.
The Dye Course at White Oak recalls Dye's early work in a number of ways, including smaller-sized greens that possess a degree of contour and slope not found in his later designs when the movements were tailored to faster green speeds. Knowing that the course would receive minimal play also allowed Dye and MacCurrach to design greens with just three or four hole locations rather than the typical five or six or more.
Dye's routing of White Oak is unique: The first nine plays like an inverted "W" around interior pockets of wetlands, and the second nine loops entirely around the outside, enclosing it. The short par-4 13th sits on the western flank and is the only hole where centerline bunkers must be challenged.
The 485-yard 16th runs parallel to the St. Marys River separating Florida and Georgia, then does an about face into the par-3 17th that features an elevated platform green angled over deep trench bunkers and some of the most pronounced putting contours on the course.
For most "drivable" par 4s, the critical shot is the decision on the drive—to tempt a hazard by either going for the green or not. At the 316-yard sixth, Dye offers plenty of fairway. The real obstacle is the green that slopes off a central crest and falls away in different directions both fore and aft. Getting up and in from the wrong side of either contour is a major feat.
Second 100 Greatest: Making its inaugural appearance on our rankings in its first year of eligibility.
2023-'24 ranking: 142nd.
Best in State: Ranked since 2023.
Current ranking: 7th.
Best New: 2022 Best New Private winner.
RELATED: Pete Dye's last design, White Oak, is one of the most exclusive and unique golf experiences in the world
Ratings from our panel of 1,900 course-ranking panelists
100 GREATEST/BEST IN STATE SCORES
“One of the wildest experiences in golf. Its pretty unimaginable that one man can have a course of this quality and to know that myself and a fellow panelist were the only persons to play it in a single month. The course is immaculate and, as tough as it is to say, one of Dye's better designs. While it can play up to 7,400 yards, it is still scoreable and a joy to walk. It is truly a wild experience to see a dozen people meticulously maintaining a course and knowing that you are likely the only person to play it on any given...month. I look forward to what they want to do with the course in the future."Read More
“Extremely thoughtful routing that explores the scrublands of north east Florida. The property is largely flat with limited natural features, but those that do exist, such as the creek, are used masterfully (par 4 16th) and the man-made features, including sand cap terrain and exposed sand and the lake are right at home. The short par 3 8th hole that plays to an angled island green is especially interesting. The par 3 17th with a massive reverse redan green provides both heroic options and bail out areas for higher handicap players. Dye uses cross angles off of the tee on multiple occasions to tempt the player to cut the corner for a preferred approach to the green, but even though this technique is used in multiple places each feels unique as the holes mix length, direction / preferred shot shape, and hazard if the preferred angle is missed. Conditioning is exceptional."Read More
“Secluded in the middle of almost nowhere, FL. White Oak is the last design that Pete Dye ever crafted, and it’s an excellent test of golf. It is the best conditioned course I have ever set foot on, and this includes Augusta National. It is rarely played, and the Platinum Paspalum grass is a nice alternative to the mostly Bermuda grasses of the South. The routing makes nice use of the property right along the Saint Mary’s river. The feature that stood out to me were the reachable par 5’s that have extremely tiny greens, reminiscent of Harbour Town. The weakest hole is the island green 8th. It’s feels forced because of the reputation of Dye, and the need to somewhat duplicate that other famous one about 50 miles away. Overall this place is classic Dye with his risk/reward linear challenges. I’m excited to see this place revealed to the world one day. And make sure you tour the rest of the property. It includes some of the rarest animals on the planet that are all part of the White Oak Conservatory."Read More
“The Dye Course at White Oak claims to be Pete Dye's last golf course he designed, and if it truly is his last course, Pete Dye created a masterpiece. The routing especially when played from the back tees can make for a strategic day as most of the tee shots are aligned at a diagonal to the fairways requiring you to work the ball left to right and right to left off the tee as well as to choose your appropriate line. You can take aggressive lines to shorten holes, but as soon as you miss you're likely in a trap or waste area. The same goes for approach shots into greens. Many of them are to multi-level greens so positioning is of the essence if you want to score and they require you to be strategic and work the ball into the greens for just about all of the holes on the course. The playing surfaces from tee to fairway to green are some of the best I've come across especially in Florida. This ultra-exclusive club rarely gets played so they can top-dress and firm up fairways, approaches, and greens as they feel necessary. Also, due to the low number of rounds played, the conditioning is impeccable. It didn't seem like a blade of grass was out of place. Additionally, centipede rough is used throughout the course which is quite unusual. It's very thick and the ball can easily sit up or down creating tricky flier lies and buried lies that will test you."Read More
“it wouldn't be a Pete Dye golf course without an island green par 3 which can be found on Hole #8. Green complexes are very intriguing as they are all multi-level greens with three tiers allowing for many different pin positions ranging from easy to most difficult. One unique aspect of the golf course is each Par 3 has a "Hole In One" pin position where the slopes and contours on that particular area of the green will funnel golf balls towards the pin creating a greater chance for a ball to go in the hole."Read More
“The Dye Course at White Oak has the feel of a traditional Pete Dye design, but certainly has some unique characteristics. The look and style of the bunkering, specifically the fairway bunkers definitely gives the course the feel of a Dye, but some differences in style are the width of the fairways and several closely mown areas around the greens that would allow the ball to funnel onto the green if hit to those areas. There were also the very deceptive looks off the tee boxes that Dye was famous for. Several tee shots looked much more narrow than they were, and he points your eyes away from the actual target of the tee shot. Design variety scores highly due to the variety of shapes of holes, types and placements of hazards, and length and direction of holes. The green complexes also provided very good variety. There were a variety of styles of greens and they differed in width, direction, and slope. Aesthetics scored very highly as the land is very unique, especially for north Florida. Character scored highly as well as I believe it’s one of the most unique places I’ve been to. Conditioning also scored very, very high as it played firm and fast. Since there is such limited play, there is literally no wear on the course. Once it matures a little and there’s more grow in, I believe they’ll be able to continue to make it more firm and continue to improved condition."Read More
“Feels like Pete Dye went back to his roots in designing White Oak. The subtle genius of Dye with his double doglegs and subtle features really shine. I thought he allowed great movement of typically Florida land but didn’t cut and fill some of his sharp edges and large mounding in some previous design. The course really lays on the terrain well, which is typically flat."Read More
“It's rare to play a Pete Dye course that isn't well-designed from a strategy standpoint. That said, I found this design to be fairly straightforward and mainly an ""aerial"" golf course. Most of the holes were pretty one-dimensional and didn't present a ton of different options to the player. It's a pretty long golf course from the back tees and as a result, I felt like most holes played very similar to one another. There was one driveable par 4 on the front nine, and one sub-400 yard par 4 on the back, but otherwise most holes felt similar to one another throughout the round. The island green par 3 was a nice change-up, but it was also on the longer side -- with a hard right-to-left wind -- that I'm not sure it was a very fair hole for even a better player. Also, the terrain was fairly flat overall, which made for a repetitive feel on a hole-by-hole basis. It wasn't until the last three holes when we saw some slight elevation changes that made the holes more interesting. "Read More
“Reminded me of Dye's older style courses from the 80's, except with a more natural looking presentation. Includes all of the strategy expected from a Dye design, but perhaps with a little more width."Read More
“Wide fairways with some strong strategic bunkering and some short par 4 and reachable par 5 holes supports shot options. No development and beautiful natural setting. Billed as Pete Dye's last design but I would never have guessed it was unless I was told. Feels more like Fazio."Read More
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