Broward News

Golf Course Developers Unworried About Honduras Coup

Pete Dye has modestly dismissed his own career as "digging up other people's property," but in truth, he elevated the act of golf course design from a mere landscaping job into an art form.  When Dye was inducted into the Golf Hall of Fame in November, Greg Norman introduced him, calling him a "genius." Dye and his family -- who have lived part-time in Delray Beach and Palm Beach for decades -- have made a fortune traveling to exotic locales and moving dirt around. They've designed courses in Japan, Germany, Thailand, Mexico, and Canada.  They made the Dominican Republic a high-class destination when they built a course in Casa DeCampo in the 1960s.

One of the family's current projects is the Black Pearl at Pristine Bay on Roatan -- a Honduran island known for world-class diving and a thriving expat community. Today the Juice spoke with Pete's son Perry Dye, who is heading the project, to learn whether the family is affected by the military coup that ousted President Mel Zelaya last week. This is what he had to say:

"Well, you're always worried about the staff that are there -- that's the immediate concern. But, having worked all around the world, the political crisis is not happening on the golf course at Roatan. When countries go into funks like this, things slow down -- fuel comes in slowly, parts for bulldozers come in slowly. It's sometimes aggravating, but working on an island in a foreign country, you learn to expect it.

"My guys think this thing will be over within a week. It's not really a coup. [Zelaya] wanted to be elected again; he couldn't be; Congress said no, we're gonna move you out. The military's not in charge; people are not down there shooting each other. Now, in the Dominican Republic, when we lost the president in '67, we were just starting to work down there. We've seen some coups!

"The best part of the story is that this creates economic opportunity. People will sell [real estate] lots for less money. Investors are looking for these opportunities. These guys just threw the president out in his pajamas? They'll take a little less for a lot now.

"[As Americans] it's like, 'Oh my God, people are rioting in the streets!' But they're doing that every Saturday night. I hate to be so crass about it all, but it's just the way their culture works. My job is build golf courses -- to get others to invest in the country so they quit acting like crazy people. Of course, it's not crazy to them, just to us."

Dye added that his biggest problem was environmentalists worried about the possibility of pesticides ruining the island's world-famous coral reef.  "We're there to protect the bugs and the bunnies," he said, noting that they've worked with scientists at the University of Georgia to cultivate a salt- and drought-tolerant turf called paspalum. He added that the resort employs "two Americans and probably 300 Hondurans." 

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Deirdra Funcheon