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14D AGO

PGA Championship course notes: What’s different from 2014 at Valhalla?

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    Written by Golfbet Staff @Golfbet

    A decade ago it was Rory McIlroy’s world and we were just living in it, as the Northern Irishman capped off an incredible summer by winning his third straight start (and second straight major championship) at Valhalla Golf Club.

    Now we return to Kentucky for another PGA Championship and McIlroy is coming off back-to-back PGA TOUR wins at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans (with Shane Lowry) and the Wells Fargo Championship. But in an almost unfathomable scenario to those who witnessed McIlroy’s 2014 season, he hasn’t won a major since.

    While the course on the outskirts of Louisville will certainly have some familiarity for McIlroy and others who are returning, and even the handful who also played it in the 1996 and 2000 PGAs, there has also been some significant changes since 2014 all bettors and gamers should be aware of.

    First, the place has been beefed up.

    The total length for the 2024 PGA Championship will be 7,609 yards – 151 yards longer than the 2014 yardage – and will play at par 71, just as it did in 2014 (hole No. 2 has been converted from a par 5 to par 4).

    The length comes via additional Championship tees in strategic areas.


    Key Stats for the PGA Championship using McIlroy's 2014 win at Valhalla


    The first hole will add 38 yards to become a 484-yard par 4. The par-4 12th will add 27 yards to become stretch 494 yards. Hole 14 will add 37 yards to move to a 254-yard par 3, while the 18th hole adds 28 yards to reach 570 yards.

    The 13th hole keeps its 2014 yardage but the Championship tee was lowered some 9 feet for better viewing.


    Photo Finish: This epic finishing hole bends gracefully to the right, with a large bunker to the left of the landing zone and a beautiful water feature on the right. Most players can get home in two, but will have to contend with a big bunker in front and a smaller pot bunker left. The vast, horseshoe-shaped green has distinct putting areas left, center, and right, so simply getting on the surface is no guarantee of a good score. (Source: PGA of America)

    Photo Finish: This epic finishing hole bends gracefully to the right, with a large bunker to the left of the landing zone and a beautiful water feature on the right. Most players can get home in two, but will have to contend with a big bunker in front and a smaller pot bunker left. The vast, horseshoe-shaped green has distinct putting areas left, center, and right, so simply getting on the surface is no guarantee of a good score. (Source: PGA of America)

    Straight Up: The tee shot must find the uphill, left-angling fairway, which means avoiding the two large bunkers, one on each side of the landing area. Then the approach must find the green, which is completely surrounded by trouble—two bunkers to the left and tightly mown turf everywhere else. (Source: PGA of America)

    Straight Up: The tee shot must find the uphill, left-angling fairway, which means avoiding the two large bunkers, one on each side of the landing area. Then the approach must find the green, which is completely surrounded by trouble—two bunkers to the left and tightly mown turf everywhere else. (Source: PGA of America)

    Homestretch: Brush Run Creek lines the right side of this slight dogleg-right, as well. But the real difficulty is the formidable green complex, which features two bunkers in front and a severe drop-off to a closely manicured chipping area to the right. The natural amphitheater is a prime spot for spectator viewing. (Source: PGA of America)

    Homestretch: Brush Run Creek lines the right side of this slight dogleg-right, as well. But the real difficulty is the formidable green complex, which features two bunkers in front and a severe drop-off to a closely manicured chipping area to the right. The natural amphitheater is a prime spot for spectator viewing. (Source: PGA of America)

    Julep: Unfortunately, that’s not mint julep in Brush Run Creek, which runs down the entire right side of the hole. The landing area is framed by deep bluegrass rough to the left and a large bunker to the right. The creek and a small bunker edge the right side of the large green, with a bigger bunker on the left. (Source: PGA of America)

    Julep: Unfortunately, that’s not mint julep in Brush Run Creek, which runs down the entire right side of the hole. The landing area is framed by deep bluegrass rough to the left and a large bunker to the right. The creek and a small bunker edge the right side of the large green, with a bigger bunker on the left. (Source: PGA of America)

    On The Rocks: The longest par 3 on the course, and also one of the best views of the surrounding countryside. The serene setting gets more serious around the two-tiered green, which is sandwiched between two bunkers in front and two behind. Playing from either of the two rear bunkers can be especially painful as the green slopes from back to front. (Source: PGA of America)

    On The Rocks: The longest par 3 on the course, and also one of the best views of the surrounding countryside. The serene setting gets more serious around the two-tiered green, which is sandwiched between two bunkers in front and two behind. Playing from either of the two rear bunkers can be especially painful as the green slopes from back to front. (Source: PGA of America)

    The Limestone Hole: Don’t let the distance deceive you: Yes, it’s the shortest two-shot hole on the course, but those two shots have to be good. A cluster of six bunkers sits just to the left of the fairway landing zone, while the green is a true island, surrounded by water and built up nearly 20 feet on large limestone boulders. (Source: PGA of America)

    The Limestone Hole: Don’t let the distance deceive you: Yes, it’s the shortest two-shot hole on the course, but those two shots have to be good. A cluster of six bunkers sits just to the left of the fairway landing zone, while the green is a true island, surrounded by water and built up nearly 20 feet on large limestone boulders. (Source: PGA of America)

    Holler: It’s a middle- to long-iron shot into a shallow green that features a slight false front, with a large bunker in front and a smaller one behind. The green angles right to left, but shots going too far left will bound down the steep hillside. (Source: PGA of America)

    Holler: It’s a middle- to long-iron shot into a shallow green that features a slight false front, with a large bunker in front and a smaller one behind. The green angles right to left, but shots going too far left will bound down the steep hillside. (Source: PGA of America)

    Sting Like A Bee: This hole has an island fairway which is especially difficult because it doglegs to the right and then leaves an approach shot of 170-190 yards to an elevated green. One of the deepest bunkers on the course sits to the right of the angled putting surface, while the bluegrass rough to the left is gnarly and painful. (Source: PGA of America)

    Sting Like A Bee: This hole has an island fairway which is especially difficult because it doglegs to the right and then leaves an approach shot of 170-190 yards to an elevated green. One of the deepest bunkers on the course sits to the right of the angled putting surface, while the bluegrass rough to the left is gnarly and painful. (Source: PGA of America)

    Big Red: Named after Secretariat, the big, long-distance thoroughbred, this hole is a double-dogleg with a fairway bunker on the right side of the driving zone and deep rough and trees to the left. The undulating, two-tiered green is nearly perpendicular to the fairway and protected by a large, deep bunker in front. (Source: PGA of America)

    Big Red: Named after Secretariat, the big, long-distance thoroughbred, this hole is a double-dogleg with a fairway bunker on the right side of the driving zone and deep rough and trees to the left. The undulating, two-tiered green is nearly perpendicular to the fairway and protected by a large, deep bunker in front. (Source: PGA of America)

    Twin Spires: The tee shot at this uphill par 4 is challenged by three fairway bunkers along the right side and two more left. The uphill approach makes judging the yardage difficult, exaggerated by the presence of one of the largest and deepest bunkers on the course just right of the green.The green itself is one of the most undulating on the entire golf course. (Source: PGA of America)

    Twin Spires: The tee shot at this uphill par 4 is challenged by three fairway bunkers along the right side and two more left. The uphill approach makes judging the yardage difficult, exaggerated by the presence of one of the largest and deepest bunkers on the course just right of the green.The green itself is one of the most undulating on the entire golf course. (Source: PGA of America)

    Float Like A Butterfly: It’s only a short- to middle-iron in, but the green complex is as dangerous as a Muhammad Ali combination. The front is protected by a deep bunker and a severe, closely manicured collection area. There is another bunker left, and another low-mow collection area beyond the green. The large, angled green affords numerous testing hole locations. (Source: PGA of America)

    Float Like A Butterfly: It’s only a short- to middle-iron in, but the green complex is as dangerous as a Muhammad Ali combination. The front is protected by a deep bunker and a severe, closely manicured collection area. There is another bunker left, and another low-mow collection area beyond the green. The large, angled green affords numerous testing hole locations. (Source: PGA of America)

    Genuine Risk: The split fairway sets up a classic risk vs. reward dilemma. Driving to the left shortens the hole by more than 50 yards, but the landing area is only 26 yards wide, surrounded by bluegrass rough, and guarded by water right; the approach from this island fairway is 210-230 yards, all over water. Driving to the right is longer but safer. With water along the front and left side of the green, it’s a brave player who attacks from any angle. (Source: PGA of America)

    Genuine Risk: The split fairway sets up a classic risk vs. reward dilemma. Driving to the left shortens the hole by more than 50 yards, but the landing area is only 26 yards wide, surrounded by bluegrass rough, and guarded by water right; the approach from this island fairway is 210-230 yards, all over water. Driving to the right is longer but safer. With water along the front and left side of the green, it’s a brave player who attacks from any angle. (Source: PGA of America)

    Long Shot: The name “Long Shot” refers not to distance but one’s chance of making a par on this difficult hole. It demands an accurate tee shot, and for some players will be something less than a driver as the aim is to get as close to Floyd’s Fork as one dares. Even after a good drive, players will still be looking at over 200 yards to a challenging green complex: A deep bunker guards the left side, a closely mown collection area lurks on the right. (Source: PGA of America)

    Long Shot: The name “Long Shot” refers not to distance but one’s chance of making a par on this difficult hole. It demands an accurate tee shot, and for some players will be something less than a driver as the aim is to get as close to Floyd’s Fork as one dares. Even after a good drive, players will still be looking at over 200 yards to a challenging green complex: A deep bunker guards the left side, a closely mown collection area lurks on the right. (Source: PGA of America)

    The Sun Shines Bright: The fairway on this dogleg-right is bracketed by a large fairway bunker on the right side and three bunkers on the left. The large, triangular green is also guarded on both sides, by a large bunker right and a closely mown collection area left. The back-right hole location is one of the most challenging on the course. (Source: PGA of America)

    The Sun Shines Bright: The fairway on this dogleg-right is bracketed by a large fairway bunker on the right side and three bunkers on the left. The large, triangular green is also guarded on both sides, by a large bunker right and a closely mown collection area left. The back-right hole location is one of the most challenging on the course. (Source: PGA of America)

    Mine That Bird: The aggressive line on this short-ish par 4 is down the left side, carrying the large bunker at the inside of the dogleg-left’s elbow. When the tee is moved forward most players can drive the green, but this brings Floyd’s Fork into play to the left side of the green and the putting surface features significant movement and contours. Golfers who choose to lay back and approach with a wedge will need precise distance control to get near the hole wherever it’s positioned. (Source: PGA of America)

    Mine That Bird: The aggressive line on this short-ish par 4 is down the left side, carrying the large bunker at the inside of the dogleg-left’s elbow. When the tee is moved forward most players can drive the green, but this brings Floyd’s Fork into play to the left side of the green and the putting surface features significant movement and contours. Golfers who choose to lay back and approach with a wedge will need precise distance control to get near the hole wherever it’s positioned. (Source: PGA of America)

    Honest Abe: Named after Kentucky’s only president (Lincoln was born in Larue County, about 70 miles south of Valhalla; his family moved to Illinois when he was 7), this challenging par 3 demands an “honest” attempt. Floyd’s Fork sweeps around to the right of the green, which also is guarded by a large bunker to the right and smaller bunkers to the left and behind. But the real danger is misreading the wind, which can push a shot to the right side, which slopes down toward the hazards. (Source: PGA of America)

    Honest Abe: Named after Kentucky’s only president (Lincoln was born in Larue County, about 70 miles south of Valhalla; his family moved to Illinois when he was 7), this challenging par 3 demands an “honest” attempt. Floyd’s Fork sweeps around to the right of the green, which also is guarded by a large bunker to the right and smaller bunkers to the left and behind. But the real danger is misreading the wind, which can push a shot to the right side, which slopes down toward the hazards. (Source: PGA of America)

    The Post: The challenge on this dogleg-left is not only off the tee, but also on the approach. The large front-right bunker is both visually intimidating and a real threat when the hole is cut front-left or back-right. The left bunker will catch errant shots aimed at the back of the green. (Source: PGA of America)

    The Post: The challenge on this dogleg-left is not only off the tee, but also on the approach. The large front-right bunker is both visually intimidating and a real threat when the hole is cut front-left or back-right. The left bunker will catch errant shots aimed at the back of the green. (Source: PGA of America)

    Winning Colors: Another slight dogleg left, this long par 4 is lined with beautiful Kentucky hardwoods. Tee shots need to stay clear of a finger of Floyd’s Fork, a waterway that runs along the left side of the fairway and green, and continues to meander through the front nine. Also protecting the angled green are three bunkers, two front-left and one back-right. (Source: PGA of America)

    Winning Colors: Another slight dogleg left, this long par 4 is lined with beautiful Kentucky hardwoods. Tee shots need to stay clear of a finger of Floyd’s Fork, a waterway that runs along the left side of the fairway and green, and continues to meander through the front nine. Also protecting the angled green are three bunkers, two front-left and one back-right. (Source: PGA of America)


    Next, the grass will feel (and play) differently from 2014.

    An extensive fairway renovation took place in 2021, changing fairway turf and tee tops from bent grass to Zeon Zoysia. A total of 30 acres of Zeon Zoysia was installed in a three-month time frame.

    Zeon Zoysia is a warm season grass with a narrower blade than traditional Zoysia grass, which closely mimics the look of bent grass and tolerates much shorter mowing
    heights than traditional Zoysia. There were multiple reasons for the shift in grass according to the PGA of America, notably because bent grass is difficult to manage in what is known as the transition zone: the area between mild conditions where the cool-season grasses thrive and hot/humid conditions where warmer-season grasses grow. Zeon Zoysia fairways also allow for more firm and fast playing conditions all season long, although that firmness may be mitigated this week by a forecast that features significant chances for rain over the next few days.

    Conclusion: Bring your long game.

    But what can we garner from these changes? You’d better bring your long game to be able to handle the conditions at Valhalla – and to be able to create as many birdie opportunities as possible.

    Action is growing around McIlroy, who is now down to +800 at BetMGM Sportsbook to rekindle his success from 2014, but everyone in the field is still looking up at Scottie Scheffler. The reigning Masters champ is listed as a +450 favorite to open tournament week as he looks for his second major of the year and fifth win in his last six starts overall.

    For resources to overcome a gambling problem, call or text 1-800-GAMBLER today.

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