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.
Date: June 28, 2017