Remembering Pete Dye, architect of Radford’s river course

Golf course architect Pete Dye renovated The River Course of Virginia Tech.

From the Sidelines

By Marty Gordon

Pete Dye, the architect of one of the New River Valley’s golf courses, passed away last week at the age of 94. He designed many of the best courses around the world.

Professional Golf Association President Suzy Whaley said Dye left an imprint on the world of golf that will be experienced for generations, painting wonderful pictures with the land that continue to inspire, entertain and challenge golfers.

That is true when you look at the river course in Radford.

Thanks to the contributions of some generous donors and to Dye, the Virginia Tech golf team practices in a state-of-the-art facility and plays on one of the best golf courses in the country.

In 2004, Dye began a renovation of The River Course of Virginia Tech, which had been acquired by the Virginia Tech Foundation in 2002. Dye spent nearly two years designing the course to fit his vision, and the university thanked him by formally renaming the golf course The Pete Dye River Course of Virginia Tech. Opening in August of 2005, the course was selected by Golf Digest as one of the Top 5 “Best Newly Remodeled Courses in America” for 2006.

Dedicated formally in June 2006, the beautiful course features five sets of tees along 2.5 miles of the scenic and historic New River. The yardage stretches from 5,142 yards for ladies to 7,665 for tournament play.

The course itself continues to draw rave reviews. In 2008-09, Golf Digest rated it as a 4.5 star facility and included the course among its “Best Places to Play.” This rating was the highest awarded in Virginia, Kentucky, West Virginia and Tennessee and was also shared with The Homestead’s Cascades Course, The Meadows Course at the Greenbrier, Kingsmill’s River Course and Pinehurst Resort Courses Nos. 4, 6, 7 & 8.

The course was named as one of the “100 Middle Atlantic Must-Play Courses for 2008” and was selected No. 18 on the list of Golfweek’s 2010 Best Campus Courses. The course moved up to No. 9 in Golfweek’s 2011 Best Campus Courses list.

Dye was known for enhancing the existing landscape and working within the natural beauty of the area. He used all of the natural attributes of the previous course, including the New River, with its adjoining rock formations and natural trees and vegetation.

“The PGA is saddened about the passing of this dear friend of the PGA Professional. Pete and his late wife, Alice, formed the greatest force in golf design history. The Dye family will forever be linked to many of the thrilling championships in PGA history and for something that they intended all along—that we embrace golf’s life values,” Whaley said.

Thanks, Pete, for giving us the River Course.


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