Hole 1 | Par 4 - Cut the Corner
Hole No. 1 is a deceptive par 4 with a slight dog leg to the left. From the tee, the hole appears mostly tame; however the approach to the green will be dramatically different with the addition of two greenside bunkers, one front right and one back left. The new front-right bunker has filled the area that was once the low portion of green in the front right and the bluegrass low to the right of the green. This bunker is a visually intimidating sight for approach shots to the front-left and back-right hole locations. The left bunker is positioned to gobble up errant shots to the back portion of the green.
Hole 2 | Par 5 - The Ridge
The second is a slight dog leg to the left. This hole challenges the players from the tee with a finger of Floyds Fork, a waterway that meanders through the front nine, bordering the left side of the fairway and a bunker squeezing the fairway to the right. In 2006, Jack Nicklaus made a few enhancements to the green complex, allowing the conversion to a par 4 for Championship golf. The slopes in the green have been softened to be more receptive to longer approach shots, but the green has also been reduced in total size. The two existing bunkers to the left have been reworked and deepened. A new bunker has been added in the area that previously was a closely mown collection area right of the green. Just as before, Floyds Fork is there to catch shots missing the green to the left.
Hole 3 | Par 3 - Floyds Fork
No. 3 is a challenging par 3 with Floyds Fork winding between the tee and the green then sweeping around to the right of the green. The third has remained relatively unchanged through the 2006 renovation with the exception of softening some of the existing slopes in the green and adding a small portion of green to the back left that will allow for more hole locations on or near the back left of the green. The green is guarded by a large bunker to the left and a bunker to the right. The real danger on hole No. 3 is misreading the wind and having the shot pushed to the right and careening off the slope right of the green into Floyds Fork.
Hole 4 | Par 4 - Short 'n Sweet
The fourth has the addition of a new tee, which is 20 yards further back and to the players' right. The tee shot at No. 4 was difficult before with a deep bunker protecting left of the fairway with another fairway bunker lying in wait on the right. The aggressive play is to take the tee shot over the left bunker; however, the new tee has taken the carry yardage of left bunker from 240 yards to 260 yards and given a slightly different angle off of the tee. Although a relatively short par 4 by today's standards, this hole will still be a test for all players. Distance control is the key for approaches to this green. Shots going long of the green will surely reach a watery grave in Floyds Fork.
Hole 5 | Par 4 - Fade Away
The fifth has a slightly new look with Mr. Nicklaus adding a new fairway bunker on the player's right-hand side, which now complements the three bunkers that line the left of the landing area off the tee. A tee shot of 290 yards will be needed to carry the new right-hand bunker. Once the ball is in the fairway, the fifth is not yet over as the green has a bunker positioned to grab errant shots to the right or short and a closely mown collection area left of the green. This green allows for a back-right hole location, which is one of the most difficult on the course.
Hole 6 | Par 4 - The Bear
The sixth is one of the more dramatic enhancements of the 2006 renovation project. The sixth was a 420-yard par 4 with the second shot over Floyds Fork. Players will not notice much difference from the tee but the second shot will be a real eye opener. The green has been moved back 80 yards, leaving players with an approach shot of 180 to 200 yards after a well-positioned tee shot. The green has been totally redesigned with plenty of trouble. A deep bunker will guard the left side of the green and a closely mown collection area will grab shots to the right. This will be a difficult par for players of all skill levels. (Photo: Getty Images)
Hole 7 | Par 5 - Players Pick
Hole No. 7, with its split fairway, offers a definite risk vs. reward approach. The shorter route to the left fairway shortens the hole by more than 50 yards. However, the landing area is only 24 yards wide and the entire left fairway is surrounded by bluegrass rough and a water hazard. The approach from this island fairway will be a carry of 210 to 230 yards, all over water. The fairway to the right is the longer but safer route, although this route too has been made more challenging by narrowing the fairway by 15 to 20 yards. The fairway bunkers on the right side of the fairway have been enlarged and moved closer the fairway. The water hazard has been expanded to the very edge of the green to surely drown any approach shot missing to the left.
Hole 8 | Par 3 - Thor's Hammer
The eighth hole also has a totally new green complex and tee area. The tee has been redesigned to allow for the Championship tee on hole Nos. 5 and 8 to be shared, adding 25 yards to the eighth. The green complex is extremely challenging, protected by a deep bunker guarding the front of the green with a slippery collection area behind it. Another bunker and Floyds Fork to the left and a green featuring multiple shelves allow for the most challenging of hole placements.
Hole 9 | Par 4 - The Rise
Hole No. 9 is an uphill par 4 that remained mostly unchanged through the renovation. The tee shot is challenged by three fairway bunkers bordering the right side of the fairway and two more to the left. The uphill approach to this green makes judging the yardage very difficult, and the presence of one of the largest and deepest bunkers on the course looming just right of the green does not ease the pain of missed shots.
Hole 10 | Par 5 - Turns
The 10th is a double-dog leg par 5 with a fairway bunker on the right side of the driving zone and deep rough to the left. The green is protected by a large, deep bunker guarding the front of this undulating, two-tiered green. Distance control on the approach is a must as shots missing long will make par extremely difficult and shots coming up short will find the front bunker. The 2006 renovation has added a new championship tee that adds 35 yards in length.
Hole 11 | Par 3 - On the Edge
Another of the major projects undertaken during the 2006 renovation was hole No. 11, where the green complex was completely rebuilt. The new green has been moved back some 30 yards and to the left of the previous green position, and it now features a slight false front with two bunkers bordering the front and left of the green and two more trapping shots that go long. Accuracy will be a must because shots that carry too far to the left will bound down the hillside, making par a very difficult task.
Hole 12 | Par 4 - Odin's Revenge
Hole No. 12 has proven to play extremely difficult in each and every major event. This par 4 has a difficult driving area that leaves player with a 160-to-180-yard approach to an elevated green. The green is punishing to errant shots with one of the deepest bunkers on the course to the right and gnarly bluegrass rough to the left. This solid par 4 will remain unchanged with the exception of subtle recontouring of the green.
Hole 13 | Par 4 - The Island
The 13th is the shortest of the par 4's, measuring 350 yards from the Championship tee. This hole has seen its fair share of excitement in each of the majors at Valhalla. The driving zone of the hole is surrounded by five small bunkers to the left and one large bunker to the right. The green, one the most spectacular on the course, is built up nearly 20 feet on large boulders and is nearly completely surrounded by water. Accuracy with controlled spin is a must for this hole, which will remain unchanged with the exception of slight recontouring of the green.
Hole 14 | Par 3 - Two Tears
Hole No. 14 is the longest of the par 3's at 215 yards and features a two-tiered green with a large bunker guarding the front. The renovation project included re-contouring the rear portion of the green and the addition of two greenside bunkers -- one just behind the lower tier and one just behind the upper tier of the green. This par 3 demands proper club selection, because shots missing long will face the toughest of recovery shots.
Hole 15 | Par 4 - On the Rocks
The 15th is one of the most scenic holes at Valhalla with Brush Run Creek skirting the entire right side of the hole. The landing area off of the tee is framed by a small bunker to the left and a larger bunker to the right. However, the challenge of this hole is the approach. The green, like the fairway, is skirted by Brush Run Creek, leaving very little room for error to the right. This hole has little change from tee to green; however, the green complex includes the addition of a greenside bunker that fills what used to be a closely mown collection area left of the green. The green itself has been recontoured on both the left and right sides, allowing for more hole locations, some very near the water.
Hole 16 | Par 4 - Down the Stretch
No. 16, a slight dogleg to the right with Brush Run Creek guarding the right side and a tree covered slope with deep rough on the left, is the longest of the par 4's at 510 yards. Hole 16 has proven to be one of the most difficult on the course and, amazingly enough, has yet to be tested at its full length in a major championship. The approach to this green has been changed in dramatic fashion with a completely new green complex and the lowering of hole No. 17's tee area, which creates an amphitheater for unbelievable spectator viewing. Formerly without bunkers, this par 4 now features two greenside bunkers.
Hole 17 | Par 4 - No Mercy
Seventeen is an uphill par 4 that was one of the major projects during the course renovation. The tee area on this hole has been lowered 6 to 8 feet, creating a spectacular viewing area for the 16th green. The existing left fairway bunker has been complemented by the addition of a right fairway bunker, making the landing area an even more difficult target. The new teeing area has allowed for the addition of 50 yards in length, making this a very difficult par 4. The green on 17 has remained virtually the same with some recontouring of slopes.
Hole 18 | Par 5 - Gahm Over
The 18th has proven to be a great finishing hole time and again with playoff finishes in the 78th & 82nd PGA Championships as well as the down-to-the-wire finish in the 65th Senior PGA Championship. This par 5 has a large fairway bunker to the left of the landing zone and a spectacular water feature on the right. This hole has remained mostly unchanged with the exception of a new greenside bunker just off the left of the green. The existing bunker guarding the entire front portion of the green will remain a factor. The green itself has remained nearly the same with only some re-contouring of the slopes that run from the upper portion of the green down to the left and right lower levels.