Whatever age-defying drug Pete Dye is taking, I want some. The 89-year-old is still designing outstanding golf courses, while continuing to evolve, innovate, and have fun.
His newest creation is called Full Cry at Keswick Hall, the elegant, small resort in central Virginia that sits in the shadow of Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello. Similarities abound between the Declaration of Independence author and one of golf’s most independent thinkers: Both were self-taught architects, tinkerers, and revolutionaries.
Both also love the beautiful countryside of the Old Dominion. Jefferson sited his magnificent home on a mountaintop so he could see for miles across the landscape. There’s plenty of lovely gazing over the gently rolling terrain Dye used to design a course that is exciting and exacting, calm and calamitous.
With a name like “Full Cry”—an expression used in fox hunting, a sport popular in Virginia since pre-Colonial times—expectations are for the architect at his most Dye-abolical. But he opted for subtlety. For example, there are plenty of bunkers, but few of the deep pits of despair Dye has been known for. (There is, however, a near-island green at the long par-three 7th hole, the raised putting surface encircled by sand.)
The master at knocking golfers off their games, Dye does so here with the twisting topography. The fairways are wide, but often set akilter so hitting them can be diffcult. The greens are small, mildly undulating, and open in front while falling off along the sides into tightly mown collection areas. Holes 13 and 14 are back-to-back short par fours frustratingly diffcult to tame, their lack of yardage more than compensated for by elevation changes, canted fairways, and tiny greens.
The key to Full Cry is control. Choose the right set of tees—six to select from—and have firm command of your yardages.
Keswick Hall, its main building a 100-yearold Italianate country estate with 48 stately rooms and suites, provides excellent service and all-encompassing comfort. Sitting out back, nursing a favorite drink, all looks pleasant and placid. But if the cocktail is helping salve the wounds inflicted by that seemingly serene golf course, tip your cap—or three-cornered hat—to one of American golf’s most creative founding fathers.