Pete Dye is back in ‘Greater Europe’ for the first time in 20 years. When he completed the Domaine Imperial course on Lake Geneva in 1987, Dye found the administrative problems so intractable that he swore never to cross the Atlantic on business again.
Yet last month Pete, with his co-designer and wife, Alice, together with associate designer, Tim Liddy, spent six days overseeing the construction of an entirely new 18 holes at the historic location of Caesarea, one of the country’s most visited destinations with its Herodian city and port built on the ancient ruins of a Phoenician city.
Caesarea lies half way between Tel Aviv and Haifa. The land was donated by Baron Edmond Benjamin de Rothschild and the profits generated by the housing are utilised for charitable and research objectives.
The course is being built on sand. Dye rejoiced in this ideal medium for the construction of the finest test of golf. “This is the first time I‘ve ever worked on pure sand”, he said. “Kiawah was a mixture of silt, earth and clay”, stated the world’s leading golf course architect who is very selective in his choice of contracts.
“Why did he accept this particular contract”, he was asked. “Because here I have the feeling that instead of building for a client, I‘m building for a country!”
The course is the only 18 hole layout in Israel which has a population of 7 million.
The new course will have paspalum grass which is far more welcoming to links style low running shots than the hostile kikuyu of the 1961 course which Dye’s layout replaces. It will also be far more water-efficient than the earlier course.
The new Caesarea Golf Course is due to open in Spring 2009.
Colin Hegarty of Golf Research Group and Richard Wax of Golf Surveys Ltd are consultants to the developers.