I’m Jeff Klaiber, golf course architect and your Gritty Golf Guide. I played my first Pete Dye golf course at Oak Tree, in Edmond, Oklahoma when I was 19 years old. Growing up playing a pedestrian muni, I was shocked at the level of challenge a golf course could provide, and was intrigued at the incredible shapes of the course features, especially the bunkers. Since then, I have always enjoyed the challenge of seeing how well my game stacks up against the most difficult golf courses, much more than playing against other players.
I began my golf course design career by enrolling in the graduate architecture program at the University of Florida. I was schooled in the elements of large scale design, the nuances of spatial relationships, and how to convey my visions on paper through master plan production. Unbelievably, I soon landed a summer internship with Pete Dye, the crown prince of unique and challenging golf course design, as well as my hero. I signed on to move to Indianapolis for the summer and work on the Brickyard Crossing Golf Course project at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Anticipating a summer job of producing construction drawings, I was shocked to learn I would be driving a tractor and digging holes with a shovel. Although I had never been on a tractor before, I was thrilled to be employed by Mr. Dye and was willing to do anything.
After a couple weeks of Pete referring to me as “college boy” and performing less than glamorous tasks such as digging drainage trenches in green sub grades, I was promoted to what I like to call his “personal assistant,” or head grunt. I received sun up to sundown, seven days a week, firsthand tutelage at the foot of the master, the gift of a lifetime. This led to a permanent job after grad school. Pete showed me how to explore and construct my own design ideas as more of a “dirt sculptor” and provided me the freedom to constantly refine them. As he used to tell me, “You can’t hurt dirt. If you don’t like it, tear it down and build it again.”
With Gritty Golf Guide, my goal has been to share my passions for golf course architecture and challenging my golf skills against the most difficult golf courses in the world. As sort of a “Golf Sherpa,” I will provide insight, direction, and plenty of laughs as I lead your group on the golf outing of a lifetime, without regard for anyone’s handicap or level of experience. Check your ego at the door, just bring your love for the game.