When I was in graduate architecture school in the early 90’s at the University of Florida, I was required to write a thesis. For my subject I chose the environmental impact resulting from the construction of the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island in South Carolina, a Pete Dye masterpiece that had recently hosted the 1991 Ryder Cup matches. I tracked down Pete’s office phone number from the American Society of Golf Course Architects and gave it a call. Little did I know that Pete actually doesn’t have an office and that the number was his home phone, and of course he answers the phone. A little bit shocked, I kept it together and began discussing my intentions for my thesis and if it was possible that he could help me a little bit, or lead me to someone that could. Of course he says yes and gives me some phone numbers to call at the golf course and tells me he’s open to any help he can give me in the next two years when I will be writing a thesis. I was shocked at how well the conversation was going and how easy it was to talk to him, so I decided to end the conversation by telling him that I had a summer internship I was required to perform coming up and that I would be more than happy to assist his company in anyway I could to satisfy the requirements. He told me he was reconstructing the golf course at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and gave me directions on where to meet him there that summer. I was thrilled with the results of my phone call.
Within a few weeks I packed up my car in Florida and drove to Indianapolis. I quickly learned the many quirks that make Pete the eccentric, unique individual that he is. When I arrived at the construction site the construction manager said had never heard of me and called Pete to confirm my story. Of course Pete did not remember our conversation but told the construction manager to put me on anyway, probably figuring that I wouldn’t last a few days. Somehow I survived the summer, even though I never touched a drawing pen. I’m sure the construction manager figured some college student wasn’t about to work construction the whole summer, but my motivation to become a golf course architect far outweighed the unexpected nature of work I would be doing to fulfill my summer internship. After a couple weeks I even got a paycheck, which is unheard of in the summer internships which usually means you work for free . I was making $6.50 an hour and within a short amount of time I had become Pete’s personal whipping boy on the project.