Valhalla - Kentucky - USA

Valhalla Golf Club,
15503 Shelbyville Road,
Louisville,
Kentucky (KY) 40245,
USA


  • +1 502 245 1239

  • Golf Club Website

  • 3 miles W of Louisville

  • Reciprocal guest policy – caddy mandatory

  • Michael Montague

  • Jack Nicklaus

  • Keith Reese


Valhalla Golf Club played host to the 2008 Ryder Cup matches between the USA and Europe. Team Captains were Paul Azinger (US) and Nick Faldo (Europe). Team USA ended their run of three successive defeats by recording in Kentucky their biggest Ryder Cup victory since 1981. Jim Furyk clinched the deciding point, defeating Miguel Angel Jiménez to take the US total to an unassailable 14 ½ points. In the singles, Kentuckians Kenny Perry and J B Holmes held off Henrik Stenson and Soren Hansen, while Boo Weekley comfortably dispatched Oliver Wilson. USA 16 ½ - Europe 11 ½. The Ryder Cup was played at The K Club in 2006 and at Celtic Manor in 2010.

People from miles away heard Jack Nicklaus rubbing his hands together when he was approached to design Valhalla back in the 1980s. This 500-acre parcel of Kentucky land was an architect’s dream, with varied terrain, water and plenty of space. So much space that 40 possible course routings were considered before construction eventually began.

Valhalla finally opened for play in 1986 to a rapturous standing ovation but Valhalla is an old Viking word, which roughly translated means “Hall of the slain”, a mythical heaven for Norse warriors slain gloriously in battle. Hold on a minute, we know this is a tough course but surely it’s not that tough? Well, we do know that it took a Tiger to tame Valhalla in the 2000 US PGA Championship, which was the second time the club had played host to the US PGA (previously in 1996 won by Mark Brooks). The US PGA Championship returned to Valhalla in 2014, which Rory McIlroy won in the evening twilight to secure his fourth Major title.

We’re great fans of the US reciprocal guest policy which is similar to the system that is prevalent in Europe. We’re delighted that Valhalla embraces this policy, allowing members of other golf clubs to play the course providing they are introduced beforehand.

The front nine at Valhalla is fashioned in a links-style with fairways that pitch and roll through a fairly flat, low-lying and open valley. Jack needed to do a bit of earth moving to create the outward half, not only to make a visually attractive sequence of holes, but also to protect the fairways from possible storm damage. The back nine, on theTeam USA celebrates on the clubhouse balcony following their Ryder Cup victory (Photo: E.M. Pio-roda, PGA.com) other hand, is a much more traditional tree-lined layout.

A number of minor tweaks were made by Nicklaus ahead of the two majors mentioned earlier and Big Jack was selected again to modify the course prior to the eagerly awaited 2008 Ryder Cup which put Valhalla Golf Club under the world’s spotlight once more. Team USA emphatically won the 37th Ryder Cup with an impressive 16½-11½ victory over Europe, heralding their first win since 1999 at The Country Club in Brookline.

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Reviews for Valhalla

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Description: Jack did a bit of earth moving on the front nine at Valhalla which is fashioned in a links-style with fairways that pitch and roll through a fairly flat, low-lying and open valley. Rating: 4.5 out of 6 Reviews: 6

Wonderful course, but over rated. I was fortunate to play with our pro, Chad. The highlight was on the par where Sergio kept dumping balls in the H2O at the Ryder Cup, Chad reached in two. Alas, he did not make eagle but impressive nonetheless. In my opinion the back is much tougher than the front. Using your imagination walking up 18 must be impressive, overwhelming, humbling...pick your adjective at a major tournament with a large crowd.

4 / 6
Valhalla
July 11, 2018


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Valhalla is an outstanding place. The clubhouse is magnificent. Probably the most beautiful I've ever come across. As for the course itself, it's a real treat. Lots of different ways to approach how you navigate holes here, and Jack makes you examine all your options with every shot. I'd definitely agree with previous reviews that the back is stronger than the front, but the outward half is certainly nothing to knock. Numbers 2 and 7, the front's Par 5's, are fantastic risk-reward holes. Both can be reached in 2, but water and sand around each green make it a tall order to make an eagle. Laying up on each of those holes, as I did, secured easy pars with makable birdie putts that didn't require much stress, as going for the greens would have. The 4th is a good short Par 4, and the 6th is a beast of a hole. My friend, an assistant pro at Valhalla, says it's the hardest hole in Kentucky. It's believable, and it hasn't always been like that, as Nicklaus moved the green 100 yards back from its original location next to a creek, to an area surrounded by trees. Yet, even with the difficulty of #6, #12 makes its own argument for being a beast. Missing the fairway here almost guarantees the best score you can make is a 5. Even if you do hit the fairway, par is a tall order. After (likely) getting your rear end kicked in there, you move onto #13, the signature hole with the island green. It's a fairway wood or long iron off the tee, and a wedge into the green. Assuming you don't psych yourself out because of the water, it's not a hard hole to make birdie on. #15 is another great Par 4, with the meandering creek along the right side providing a strong challenge, with a very quaint, relaxing view. After more challenges on the 16th and 17th, you get one last chance to bite back on the short Par 5 18th. Avoid the water, put the ball on the correct side of the green, and birdie is a very realistic option so that you can end your round in happy fashion. This is a very fair course, as a whole. Keep it in the short grass and on most holes, you'll have a green light to attack the flag. Once you're in the rough, you are forced to play defensively and limit the damage. Nothing but good things to say about Valhalla though. I would love to come back here, and in part to the exciting tournaments it's hosted in the past, is worthy of many more big tournaments going forward.

5 / 6
Valhalla
June 28, 2017


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One call from my pro and we had a tee time at Valhalla, the site of the 1996 PGA Championship. It took us about three hours to fly to Louisville, Kentucky, where we got a courtesy car from the airport and drove to the course. The PGA of America has bought a substantial interest in Valhalla, so it has several major championships to its credit, including the 2000 and 2004 PGA Championships and the 2008 Ryder Cup. Designed by Jack Nicklaus, Valhalla has a beautiful variety of holes and some very challenging greens – too challenging, according to my friend Jeff. Larry Berle.
3 / 6
Valhalla
November 20, 2014


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Keith Baxter
November 20, 2014
The above review is an edited extract from A Golfer’s Dream, which has been reproduced with the author’s kind permission. A Golfer’s Dream, by Larry Berle, tells the story of how a regular guy conquered America’s Top 100 Golf Courses (following Golf Digest’s 2001/2002 list). Larry has exclusively rated for us every course in the hundred, using our golf ball rating system. However, Larry did not rate the 100 courses against every golf course he has played, but instead he rated them in relation to each other within the hundred. Consequently, in some cases, his rating may seem rather low. A Golfer’s Dream is available in Kindle format and also on Kindle Unlimited via Amazon... click the link for more. 
The back nine at Valhalla from the back tees is as tough of a course as I've played. Number 12 has to be one of the hardest if not the hardest in Kentucky. The long par 3 14th hole which is elevated and protected on all sides with bunkers and has major undulation in the middle of the green is disaster waiting to happen. Players don't get a break on 16 or 17 and it is only when you arrive at 18 does it seem like you've had a good shot at birdie. The front is ok, but the back is terrific.
5 / 6
Valhalla
July 14, 2009


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I'm not sure why Valhalla is rated so low among American courses. I have played the course many times, both before and after the renovations made for the Ryder Cup, and I think it's one of the best of America's modern courses. There are no weak holes (the renovation corrected some mistakes, particularly the par three eighth), and each nine offers a contrast to the other. The best holes, I think, are on the back nine. Number twelve is as good a par four as one can find, a genuine challenge. The fairway is quite wide, but one must drive it a long way to have reasonable chance to hit the green in regulaton. Number 15 is a much underrated par four. Here again, the second shot to a long and noarrow green, bordered by a water hazard on the right and bunkers on the left, is the difficult one. Some complain about the quirky eighteenth, a relatively short par five with the half moon (commode seat?) green. I find it offers even the mid-handicapper a chance at glory, and the pin placement changes the approach considerably from round to round. Valhalla has hosted two exciting PGA Championships and the 2008 Ryder Cup and has done so proudly. It's a great venue and deserves to be ranked among the country's top courses.
6 / 6
Valhalla
February 17, 2009


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I have a friend who’s a member at Valhalla and I played here in May 2008 after a gap of some four years since I last played here and the changes made by Nicklaus ahead of the Ryder Cup are quite significant. I found the course much tougher. Six shots tougher according to my friend, depending on how devilish the course manager is feeling with pin placements. Four greens have been reshaped, half a dozen new bunkers added and they’ve even changed the grass type on every green. Much has been done also to make Valhalla a more spectator friendly course and this does nothing to improve the layout in my opinion but it’s a requirement of the merry-go-round. I remain unconvinced that the remodelled Valhalla is better than the old one but it’s still a tough track and will be enjoyed by all Nicklaus design fans. Frankly I’m not one of them.
4 / 6
Valhalla
September 02, 2008


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Keith Baxter
September 04, 2008
Thanks for posting an interesting review of Valhalla. Here's what Jack Nicklaus had to say about the course ahead of the Ryder Cup:"We (Nicklaus & the PGA of America) are working together to undertake several significant changes to the course to prepare it for the Ryder Cup and as a championship venue from both modern player and spectator perspectives - the changes to the golf course we have already discussed will enhance both of those experiences. We are also going to make some changes to make the golf course more enjoyable from a member perspective, the people that will be playing there every day. In the end, we want the Tour players, fans and members to walk away and say, 'Wow, that is a great golf course and a great experience' - worthy as a major championship venue and as one of the premier golf clubs in the country. For me personally, Valhalla is going to be a big part of my legacy to the game and to players for generations after I am gone. I take great pride in Valhalla and want it to be the best it can be."
mm
December 03, 2008
i played valhalla in june 08 and i thought the changes were super. the course was in top notch shape and extremly hard from the back tees. the rough was to bad when i played it but my caddy told me they usually have it thick and some waste high heather. thankfully not we i played it. Valhalla has some of the best caddies in the country. most are good players with lot of experience on the 20 year old coursed. we had a foursome that walked and all 4 caddies had been at club at least 8 years. and remember if u play with a member and he says he is going to take care of caddies, u should still tip him. couple of my buddy's didn't know. this is called in caddy terms a handshake.