July 12, 2007

My Shot: Pete Dye

Overtip the ice-cream girl. Feel free to dress badly. And whatever you do, don't wrestle Babe Zaharias. A few tips from an American icon.

'If you want to get your teenager in shape, buy an old-fashioned push mower and have him mow lawns for a summer. When fall comes, he'll be able to move a mountain.'

'If you want to get your teenager in shape, buy an old-fashioned push mower and have him mow lawns for a summer. When fall comes, he'll be able to move a mountain.'

__ Age 76, golf course designer, Delray Beach, Fla.__

A good designer makes sure the cartpath runs along the right-hand side of the women's tee. Ladies don't like showing their behinds to the rest of the foursome when they bend over to tee their ball.

It's easy to look out over a golf course and say, "I'm gonna make my lawn look like that." Just remember, the superintendent has all week to make his grass green. You only have Saturday morning.

__Babe Zaharias__was not only a great golfer, she was a tremendous Indian wrestler. She challenged me to a match in 1946, just after I got out of the parachute infantry. As we joined hands and stood toe to toe, I thought, "This will be easy." Ten seconds later, I was flat on my back.

I don't know whether spikeless shoes help greens or not. I play in sneakers.

I don't like wearing things on my hands. It's a good thing Alice never gave me a wedding band, because I would have lost it by now. I keep my wristwatch in my pocket.

About 30 years ago, I went with a friend to an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting, just to give him support. The stories they told described me exactly. I quit drinking then and there, and so did Alice. We haven't had a drink since.

__People have the idea I'm in love with island greens.__Well, I've designed two in 50 years. Once you're stereotyped, it's almost impossible to lose it.

I get a kick out of overtipping people who usually don't get any tip at all, like the girl at the ice-cream counter. It leaves her happy and makes my ice cream taste better.

Going out to the movies doesn't make a lot of sense to me. They all wind up on television anyway. Heck, a friend of ours took us to dinner with Robert Redford, and I didn't know he was an actor until we got in the car to go home.

__No doubt about it, I'm a terrible dresser.__Most old people are. The reason is, we know you won't form a lasting opinion of us based on the clothes we wear.

__I don't own a car; I rent one year-round.__You're looking at me like I'm crazy, but it's cheaper, believe me. I travel 300 days a year, which means I'd have to rent a car most of the time anyway. So why invest $30,000 in one that sits in my driveway all year? I don't pay for parking at the airport. I can catch the first flight home to one of three airports — West Palm Beach, Miami or Fort Lauderdale — because I live close to all three and don't have to pick up that car I don't own. Plus, I earned enough points in the program to get Alice the use of one free for a year, so right now I have a two-for-one deal. I'm probably the only guy in America with car insurance who doesn't own a car. That policy was hard to get.

__I wish Tiger Woods__could be forced to hit his driver 14 times a round. The distance he gets with his 2-iron is impressive, but the risk of a bad shot is cut in half. There's so little suspense to it.

Golf has changed, and so have the golfers. In 1960 the PGA Tour brought an event to the Indianapolis Speedway. It was played the same week as the Indianapolis 500. The final round was played through an unholy mess of chicken bones, beer cans, programs and wrappers. The total purse was $50,000. As general chairman of the tournament, I remember sort of apologizing to Mike Souchak for the ruckus and bad playing conditions. His response was, "If you want to cut holes in the pavement, we'll play straight down Main Street for that kind of money."

I spent a night in jail when I was 12. I got caught driving my dad's Model A Ford. My uncle was the town's mayor, and he thought a night in the slammer would make an impression on me. Did it ever. That was the last crime I ever committed.

__I played in the U.S. Open__at Inverness in 1957. The greens were mowed at a quarter-inch, compared with less than an eighth of an inch today. But that didn't mean they weren't fast. You could drop a ball on the back of one of the greens and it would ride the grain all the way to the front of the green. On the other hand, if you were putting uphill into the grain, you had to hammer the ball to hit it 10 feet. Sidehill putts were very dicey. Grain was a wonderful component of green reading and judging how hard to hit the ball. I wish they would raise the mower heights a bit, so grain could be a factor again. At the very least, it would cut maintenance budgets in half so more people could afford to play.

I've worked on some pretty big projects, but never once have I used a contract. And I've gotten paid every time. All it takes is an ability to judge character.

__Women tend to take golf more seriously than men.__They play faster, dress better, follow the rules more closely. There are exceptions to every rule, but for the most part I'm right.

If I've told the people at the rental-car counter once, I've told them a thousand times: I do not want the fuel option.