Cypress Point. Erin Hills. Friar’s Head. Pebble Beach. Monterey Peninsula. Arcadia Bluffs. Sebonack. Shinnecock Hills. It reads like a who’s who of top golf courses around the country.
Kendall Dye is one of the few female professional golfers in the country that also doubles as a Golf Digest course rater, and she’s played them all.
Alex Brown, the athletic trainer for Oklahoma basketball and golf where Dye went to college, got on Augusta National in the spring to complete his goal of playing all “Top 100” courses in the country. In 2009, it was Brown that encouraged Dye to become a course rater.
Brown is the “captain” for raters in Oklahoma.
“When I finished at OU, AB (Alex Brown), who is recognized as a superstar rater was basically like ‘you are doing this’ because I was going to be traveling to all these different cities,” explained Dye. “He also told me that by studying golf architecture, it will make me a better golfer.”
Dye explained that Golf Digest doesn’t normally like professionals as raters because they don’t see courses the same as a 30-handicaper. So, she’s certainly fortunate.
“It’s this little hobby and passion of mine to go play the best golf courses in the country,” said Dye, who played Erin Hills on Monday before coming to Milwaukee. “During the Symetra (Tour) season, I seek out different courses and I’ve just met some really cool people.”
We’ve all seen the Top 100 rankings in all the publication, but what does a “rater” actually do when he or she is playing?
“There is a ten point scale, and there are probably 12 to 15 characteristics that I look for,” explained Dye. “For example, memorability meaning can you remember what hole six looks like. Conditioning is another so on the day you rate it, how firm or fast are the fairways and greens and how receptive are they?”
Dye also focuses on shot value when she plays a course and uses three measures - length, accuracy and finesse. Another category is “resistance to scoring or par” so Dye will go back to the back tees and decides “how hard it would be for a scratch male golfer to par the hole.”
Ambiance and playability are two other categories. Oh, and a personal level, she rates the golf course logo and the club cocktail (“you have got to have a good cocktail, they call them the ‘Southsides’ in the Hamptons”).
Dye said she does not get compensated for being a rater and that she is expected to pay a greens fee, but that she certainly doesn’t complain when the fee gets waived.
After playing a “top 100” course, Dye always buys a logo golf ball and a Tervis tumbler from each course with her sights set on a dream bar in her home one day.
Dye estimates that after playing 15-20 new top 100 courses during her LPGA travels in 2015, she has played nearly 40 top 100 courses.
“I’m just a golf nerd, a junkie,” said Dye. “I still have the goal of finishing the top 100 that I can play as a female, and I have Pine Valley and Augusta on my list.”
She doesn’t brag about the gig but ask her to name drop and she can. The day she met “Grandpa Pete Dye” at Crooked Stick, she also saw Peyton Manning playing. Recently, she was playing the same track as Vinny Testaverde.
Her next destination course is Sand Hills Golf Club in Nebraska. She hopes to check that one off the list en route from Sioux Falls (Sioux Falls GreatLIFE Challenge to Garden City (Garden City Charity Classic). Other 2016 goals include Seminole (Florida), Alotian (Arkansas) and Streamsong Blue (Flordia).
Let it be clear that this is her hobby, not her career. Dye graduated from the Symetra Tour to the LPGA in 2014 and is currently 25th on the Volvik Race for the Card money list trying to get back to the big Tour.
“It has been the gift of life, I really owe Alex Brown,” said Dye. “It has made me a better golfer and hopefully, I get to return to the LPGA for a long career and continue to play and rate great courses."
|Golf Digest Top 100 Courses Played||Second Top 100 Courses||2016 Goals|
|3. Cypress Point Club||103. East Lake||Sand Hills|
|4. Shinnecock Hills||104. Forest Highlands Canyon||Seminole|
|5. Merion East||111. Pasatiempo GC||Alotian|
|7. Pebble Beach||116. Grandfather Golf and CC||Streamsong Blue|
|8. National Golf Links of America||121. Galloway National GC|
|9. Winged Foot West||123. Lost Dunes GC|
|10. Fishers Island||124. Concession GC|
|16. Oak Hill East||129. Eugene CC|
|19. The Country Club||131. Madison Club|
|20. Kiawah Ocean Course||132. Caves Valley GC|
|22. Whistling Straits||136. California GC of SF|
|23. Friars Head||149. Sanctuary|
|25. Prairie Dunes||157. Colonial CC|
|26. LA North||158. Atlanta CC|
|28. Pinehurst No. 2||174. Forest Creek GC|
|29. Southern Hills||176. Whisper Rock Lower|
|34. Peachtree GC||177. Torrey Pines South|
|35. San Francisco GC||179. Desert Highlands|
|38. Sebonack||188. Pine Tree|
|42. Erin Hills||194. Monterrey Peninsula Dunes|
|48. Spyglass Hill||196. Tullymore|
|51. Oak Tree National|
|56. Kinloch GC|
|61. Dallas National Golf Club|
|64. Yeamans Hall|
|65. Arcadia Bluffs|
|67. Monterey Peninsula CC Shore Course|
|69. Inverness Club|
|70. Estancia Club|
|72. Plainfield CC||
|73. Somerset Hills CC|
|75. Boston Golf Club|
|79. Old Sandwich GC|
|85. Flint Hills National GC|
|88. Calusa Pines|
|93. Crooked Stick|
|98. Maidstone Club|
|100. Streamsong Red|