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Golf Australia Express : August 2014
I T’S been 14 years since Valhalla Golf Club played host to the PGA Championship. That year saw a fresh-faced Tiger Woods pencil in a second consecutive PGA Championship title, having knocked off compatriot Bob May in a three-hole playoff after an enthralling Sunday duel. The players smashed the Jack Nicklaus course that day with Woods and May posting an 18-under par total for the event. But no one really cared about that. After all, scores are relative when it comes down to it, right? Fast forward to today and the private Louisville track is noticeably different to the one that confronted Tiger and Co. back in 2000. A Golden Bear upgrade will do that. Having received criticism about the Valhalla greens, the course's designer, Nicklaus, in conjunction with course superintendent Roger Meier led the charge in revamping the tame track to major status in time for its major date. And if the game’s majors record holder is happy with the result, who are we to argue with him? “The changes at Valhalla were initiated because the construction of the greens failed over time, which is not uncommon after 25 years,” Nicklaus said. “The gravel layer and the mix in the greens seemed to not work anymore.” The result? All 18 greens have been either tweaked or completely redone, and as far as facelifts go, this alteration was more than just a nip and tuck. The extensive changes to the greens complement the lengthening of the course by roughly 300 yards, a process that was completed before the 2008 Ryder Cup. What stands before us now is a 7458- yard, par 71 layout more pleasing on the eye than the last time the event was held here. For players like Phil Mickelson, Jim Furyk, Hunter Mahan and Kenny Perry — who's playing his final PGA Championship this week — returning to Valhalla brings back fond memories of the USA's '08 Ryder Cup win over Europe. Only thing is this time around they'll have to play all 18 holes. And Jack's been tinkering. OTG the course Hole Changes Players Will Love 5