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The changes to Valhalla since its last Major

The changes to Valhalla since its last Major

Added length and different grass on the fairways at Valhalla Golf Club awaits players competing in the 106th US PGA Championship this week.


While the changes to Valhalla since it was last staged the USA PGA in 2014 are far from dramatic, they will be noticeable and significant when the course hosts this championship for the fourth time in its history.

Prior to Rory McIlroy's memorable fourth Major triumph in 2014, the Jack Nicklaus designed course had it's greens rebuilt in 2011, but the focus ahead of this year's Major was primarly centred on its fairways.

The result? The course, which has a par 71, will play at 7609 yards and will have a big importance placed on accuracy.

“Hitting the fairways is way more a premium here than it is at a lot of places,” said Keith Reese, PGA general manager at Valhalla since 2013, in the official programme.

“It’ll be interesting to see if the players have to adjust their aiming points off some of the tees this year, just because we are getting more roll than we typically would.”

The most notable change, which happened in 2021, has been the switch from bentgrass fairways to Zeon Zoysia grass.

Faster and firmer fairways are the result of the 30 acres of fairway and teeing grounds the club have replaced with the fine-bladed turfgrass, which will place a premium on precision for those competing this week.

The change was made predominantly due to the climate of Louisville and the maintainance upkeep that the bentgrass required. Replacing it with a grass that requires less chemicals, water and labour means that the Zeon Zoysia is much easier to maintain for Valhalla grounds.

Also in 2021, and in another nod to placing a greater importance on accuracy off the tee, the club also removed the strips of bluegrass rough between the fairways and fairway bunkers, meaning even slightly misplaced shots can find trouble.


The other big change is the additional length, which is concentrated around four holes: the par four first, par four 12th, par three 14th and the par five 18th.

Having played at 7,458 yards in 2014, Valhalla will now play at a maximum of 7,609 yards. Immediately apparent, the first will play roughly 40 yards longer - from 446 in 2014 to 484 yards, while the 12th has an additional 27 yards and will play at 494, and the 14th hole can be played at 254 yards thanks to a new tee.

The final hole, the par five 18th, has been lengthened to 570 yards, with the theme of accuracy being important for players wanting to reach in two.

"You just hit a driver really far and really straight and hit your irons well," said Justin Thomas, who summed up what is necessary to play well at Valhall this week.

"That seems to be the theme here."