Pete Dye Golf Club of WV--Bridgeport, West Virginia

Rankings per the last time I played it in August 2009...Golf Magazine has since altered their opinion:
-Ranked 4th best modern course is US (Golfweek)
-Ranked 57th best US course and best course in WV (Golf Digest)

This is the first course I’ve played the actually made my “Controversial Course” list.  It made the list due to the fact it
is currently ranked by Golfweek as the 4th best modern course in the entire country.  While it is ranked the 57th
best US course by Golf Digest and it is not ranked at all by Golf Magazine.  As I’ve stated in previous sections of this
website…when a course experiences rankings this divergent, I must step in to be the arbiter.  It is a dirty job, but
someone’s got to do it!!!  Jeff Koski, the Director of Golf, made this journey possible for me and I am very grateful!

This course is located in the mountainous region of West Virginia, about an hour and a half south of Pittsburgh, PA.  
The area is known for its long and prosperous coal mining history and the course pays homage to this fact.  This
homage begins at the front entrance of the club…

PDGC enterance.jpg

The breathtaking beauty of the course begins immediately as you approach the practice area and the fact that it is a
golf course for true golfers is immediately apparent.  You see, in addition to a top-notch driving range there is a
world class short game area with multiple greens with specific purposes.  Of course, these quality practice areas are
surrounded with amazing views of the mountains and rivers in the area.

The course was designed by the famous (perhaps infamous to some) Pete Dye.  But you probably guessed that
already when you read the name of the club.  Nevertheless, Mr. Dye’s reputation as a genius, in the context of golf
course design, is only bolstered with his work at this course.

The wonderful journey of this golfing adventure begins at the 1st hole and doesn’t slow down until you put your ball
in the cup on the 18th.  This golfing adventure will require you to be accurate and precise off the tee, smart and
intelligent on your approach shots, and courageous on your chips and putts.  Like the Ocean Course at Kiawah,
your entire game will get a workout and each hole presents a new and intriguing challenge.  I think illustrating and
discussing holes 2, 10, and 17 will highlight exactly the point I am trying to make.

Hole #2 requires you to analyze the risk/reward situation that lies in front of you.  You must hit your tee shot over a
river and work the ball right to left.  As you approach the green the fairway gets narrower and narrower.  The green
is protected by a steep sloping hill on the right and water on the left.  The thing that I really like about this hole (and
many of Dye’s holes) is the risk/reward options that avail themselves to every golfer.  As you can see from the
picture below, you can attempt to bite off as much as you think you can chew.

PDGC #2 tee.jpg

You can ramp up your game and challenge the hole for birdie by hitting the ball far down the left side of the fairway.  
However, you will have to carry the ball 250 yards and at this entry point the fairway is only about 20 yards wide.  If
you hook or pull the ball, you are wet and looking at double.  If you slice it or hit it too long, you will be set up with a
downhill lie in deep rough, chipping back towards the green with the river behind that green.  This strategy can yield
a big reward, but you take on a lot of risk.

You can also elect to hit a 190 yard tee shot into a fairway that is 50 yards wide and be left with a 170 yard shot into
that tricky green.  And there is another option that requires only a 140 yard shot to carry the river.  The fairway will
be about 100 yards wide at that point, but your approach shot will be around 220 yards.  You can pick the shot that
best suits your game.  

These types of risk/reward options make the course very challenging from a strategy standpoint and an execution
standpoint.  But it also makes the course very playable, as you are not required to attempt any shot that you don’t
have in your bag.  Frankly, I absolutely love this design philosophy.

Hole #10 is very similar to the hole #2, except instead of working your right to left aerial game it works your left to
right aerial game.  Like I said, this course will work every aspect of your game.  

PDGC #10 rough approach.jpg

Holes 2 and 10 highlight the strategy that comes into play off the tee, while hole 17 highlights the putting decisions
that will present themselves on the course.  Throughout your round, you will see a variety of different challenges on
and around the green.  Sometimes you will approach a sunken green, sometimes a green that appears to be on a
plateau, other times the green appears flat and other times shell-backed and/or sloping.  However at least one time
on the course, you will think you’ve seen all of these challenges on one green...that green is the 17th!  Please
check out the picture below.

PDGC #17 green IV.jpg

Honestly, I don’t think this picture does this brute justice.  While playing it I thought I saw three different and distinct
shell-backed areas.  From one side of the green, the green appears to be sunken.  From another it appears to be
rising.  It is wild, it is challenging, but more than anything it is FUN!!!

Perhaps the most important thing to know about this course is that it is for serious golfers only.  If you are a low
handicapper looking to challenge yourself or someone who is seeking to become a good golfer, you will love this
course.  If you prefer laidback stereotypical resort courses, where you can kick back, drink a beer, and enjoy the
scenery, it is my opinion that this course will prove too frustrating for you.  

When I played this course, I was playing as a single.  However, I should have requested a caddy as there were a few
times when I was faced with blind shots and I didn’t know how to play them.  For example, my tee shot on five took off
into a trap that was on a sunken part of the fairway and I wasn’t sure where to hit my next shot.  Hole #12 is a drive-
able par 4, but the green is hidden from the tee box and, once again, I didn’t know what to do.  And the approach to
18 can put you behind a knoll that hides the green.  However, on this one you are faced with another classic Dye
risk/reward.  I could have tried to pull off a 195 yard shot that starts over the water and fades onto the green.  Or I
could have hit over this knoll and let the ball roll down the hill that leads to the green…but I couldn’t see what was
over that hill.  So, I chickened out and laid up.   

In my opinion, this course is a must play for any serious golfer.  Its beauty is off the charts, while the challenge of the
course is immense.  In spite of this challenge, the course is very playable if you play the correct tees and you
employ the correct strategies for each and every shot.  

Therefore, to settle the dispute regarding this course’s controversial rating…Golfweek and Dr. Bradley Klein got this
one right!!!  It is one of the best courses I have ever played and it deserves to be regarded in the upper echelon of
golf courses.