When the Michigan women’s golf team stepped onto Purdue’s Kampen golf course in West Lafayette this past weekend, they were stepping onto a course unlike any other in the Big Ten. Kampen is different for one reason — legendary golf architect Pete Dye.

“This course is the top-of-the- line,” Birck Boilermaker Golf Complex superintendent Jim Scott said. “We take a lot of pride in it because it bears his name.”

One of the few collegiate courses designed by Dye, Kampen is a links course that challenges golfers with bent grass fairways, bent greens and a lot of bluegrass rough.

“There’s not a bad hole out there,” Purdue associate golf coach Greg Robertson said. “Every hole challenges you. You’ve got long holes, short holes — you’re hitting different clubs off the tee and different shots in the greens. It’s just a great golf course.”

The difficulty of the course in combination with blustery conditions made the Wolverines finish last weekend more impressive. The team rallied from a nine-stroke deficit, shooting 292 in the last round, to earn co-champion honors with Texas Christian at the Lady Boilermaker Invitational.

“We really played well, particularly towards the end,” Michigan coach Kathy Teichert said. “Everything came together for us.”

Freshman Isabelle Grendreu shot a career-best, 2-under 70 to lead the Wolverines.

Kampen has hosted numerous other tournaments, including the women’s NCAA Championship, and will be the site for the men’s NCAA Championship in 2008.

To get his ideas for links courses like Kampen, Dye took his inspiration from a month-long trip touring the classic courses of Scotland in 1963. Since then, he has designed dozens of courses, including many PGA tournament sites. Most recently, his Whistling Straits course in Kohler, Wisc., hosted the 2004 PGA Championship.

Like many of his courses, Kampen is a result of Dye’s creative genius. According to his wife, Alice Dye, Pete’s “hands-on” approach to design and construction is what sets him apart from his contemporaries and is what has made him successful for 40 years.

“He works very hard on how the holes set up, and he doesn’t do it on paper,” Alice Dye said. “I think the reason his courses are so special is that he’s there. He went to Purdue for at least 60 days. He was there on-site, and he worked. If it didn’t look right, he fixed it right then and there.”

Purdue Associate Athletic Director Nancy Cross credits Dye with a vision for molding the existing landscape into a beautiful course.

“He’s an incredible visionary,” Cross said. “When I would go out with him, we would be standing on the same little bit of land, and he would say, ‘Now, can you just imagine that a golfer would do x, y, z, and then it’s going to dogleg to the right…’ and of course I’m looking at nothing but dirt and some hump of trees over on one side. It was just amazing to me what he could see in his own mind.”

Dye wasn’t the only one working on the course in the summer of 1997. About 40 students put in seven-day, 80 to 90-hour work weeks to complete the course for a spring 1998 opening.

“It was a win-win (situation),” Cross said. “He was energized by the students, and they were thrilled to try to impress and learn from Pete Dye.”

The course is still a model for modern, renewable design. Scientists at Purdue continue to use Kampen, situated next to wetlands, as a research lab for water filtering. As a result of the system, the course reuses water in its irrigation systems while protecting and cleaning nearby Celery Bog.

Seven years after Kampen’s opening and while he approaching 80 years old, Dye still checks in with Scott to see how the course is holding up and adapting. And the magnificence of the course is something both the Wolverines and Boilermakers can agree on.

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