‘A Kentucky feel.’ See changes coming to Valhalla before PGA Championship in Louisville.

Those who remember the last time major championship golf was contested in Kentucky will get a brand-new experience next year when the PGA Championship returns to Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville for a fourth time.

The Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course, which opened in 1986, is undergoing significant changes ahead of next May’s event.

Chief among these changes is a complete redesign of the facility’s hosting areas like the clubhouse, as well as physical changes to the course itself, highlighted by a new water feature on the 13th hole and a new championship tee box on the 18th hole.

A new, 30,000-square-foot agronomy center is also being constructed near the 15th hole.

These redesigns, along with other changes to the property, were discussed Tuesday afternoon when Valhalla hosted a media invitational ahead of next year’s event.

General Chairman Jimmy Kirchdorfer — an executive with ISCO Industries who, along with a group of three other Louisville investors, purchased Valhalla last summer — and Championship Director Ryan Ogle (who is overseeing the tournament for the PGA of America) spoke about the changes to Valhalla and expectations for next year’s tournament as part of the media invitational.

“We’re putting a lot into this to try and create a Kentucky feel,” Kirchdorfer said. “We want all of our guests who come here to know what state they’re in: When they drive through the gate and see the white fence and white clubhouse and limestone (outcroppings) and so forth. ... It’s nice having a deadline like the PGA (Championship).”

A before-and-after image shows the changes made to the 13th hole at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, which will host the 2024 PGA Championship. This will be the fourth time that Valhalla hosts a PGA Championship. Valhalla Golf Club
A before-and-after image shows the changes made to the 13th hole at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, which will host the 2024 PGA Championship. This will be the fourth time that Valhalla hosts a PGA Championship. Valhalla Golf Club

Kirchdorfer, a longtime Valhalla board member who first joined the club in 2004, said part of the vision for the changes is to make Valhalla one of the premier golf clubs in the country.

“We feel like this can be a very unique golf experience. One thing we talk about is a firm, fast and fun golf course,” Kirchdorfer said, noting that firm fairways allow for the ball to roll out more on drives. “We think guests will travel from all around the country and all around the world to come play this golf course.”

Ogle said the course has been lengthened compared to 2014, when it played at 7,458 yards for the PGA Championship.

“The PGA Championship, we’re not trying to protect a certain number,” Ogle said when asked if there was a target score in mind for what the tournament winner will shoot. “We’re not trying to get to a certain number.”

What does Kirchdorfer think will be different about the 2024 PGA Championship compared to 2014, the last time Valhalla hosted the event?

“The pros that came in 2014 ... we want them to come in and say, ‘Wow, look what happened to this place. Look how this place changed,’” Kirchdorfer said. “I think that the PGA will see that this community is golf-starved. This community loves major championship golf.”

Another significant change compared to 2014 is the timing of the PGA Championship.

Previously the final major championship on the golf calendar, in 2019 the PGA Championship moved from being held in August to being scheduled for May as the second major of the year.

The 2024 PGA Championship will be held from May 13-19 in 2024 at Valhalla, with championship rounds taking place from May 16-19.

A before-and-after image shows the changes that will be made to the clubhouse at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville ahead of the 2024 PGA Championship. Valhalla is a Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course that opened in 1986. Valhalla Golf Club
A before-and-after image shows the changes that will be made to the clubhouse at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville ahead of the 2024 PGA Championship. Valhalla is a Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course that opened in 1986. Valhalla Golf Club

Ticket information for 2024 PGA Championship at Valhalla

Something stressed Tuesday was the ticket registration process for fans looking to attend next May’s event.

Tickets are being sold through a “free, no-obligation registration process” called PGA Ticket Registry, which began in 2012.

Fans should visit pgachampionship.com/register to register for tickets.

Tickets to the 2024 PGA Championship will not go on sale until this summer, but the PGA Ticket Registry process allows you to sign up for a place in line — first come, first served — for the opportunity to buy tickets.

“If you want to be here on Saturday, on Sunday, Friday, (if) you want to see the best players compete for a major championship, your best option is registering,” Ogle said.

Ogle added that there would be a daily limit on the number of spectators on the course grounds, but didn’t provide a specific number. He also didn’t specify how parking would be set up.

“We’ve got to create a space that can accommodate our spectators, make sure the shuttle experience here is (as) efficient as possible, working with the city leadership on where those opportunities are and how we can improve that experience,” Ogle said, adding that parking-specific information would be made available in early 2024.

Ogle also said tickets for the 2024 PGA Championship will be “food inclusive,” which means every ticket will cover food and non-alcoholic beverages.

Volunteer registration for the 2024 PGA Championship opened Monday. People interested should visit pgachampionship.com/2024/volunteer for more information.

Rory McIlroy, left, and Jon Rahm, should both be on hand for next year’s PGA Championship in Louisville. McIlroy won the last edition of the PGA Championship that was played at Valhalla Golf Club, while Rahm represents a new generation of players who weren’t in the field for that 2014 event. Robert F. Bukaty/AP
Rory McIlroy, left, and Jon Rahm, should both be on hand for next year’s PGA Championship in Louisville. McIlroy won the last edition of the PGA Championship that was played at Valhalla Golf Club, while Rahm represents a new generation of players who weren’t in the field for that 2014 event. Robert F. Bukaty/AP

PGA Championship returns to Valhalla for fourth time

Next year will mark the fourth edition of the PGA Championship contested at Valhalla.

The course has previously hosted three major championships, all of which were PGA Championships, in 2014 (won by Rory McIlroy), 2000 (won by Tiger Woods) and 1996 (won by Mark Brooks).

In total, the 2024 PGA Championship will be the seventh PGA of America spectator event hosted by Valhalla: The course was also the venue for the 2008 Ryder Cup (won by the United States) as well as the 2004 and 2011 Senior PGA Championships.

All three previous editions of the PGA Championship at Valhalla were won by double-digit under-par scores: Brooks reached -11 before winning in a playoff over Elizabethtown-native Kenny Perry, Woods reached -18 before winning in a playoff over Bob May, and McIlroy hit -16 to win by one stroke over Phil Mickelson.

By the time next year’s PGA Championship comes around, those lingering and loitering around the leaderboard will represent a new generation of golfers compared to those who contested the 2014 event.

Of the current top-20 golfers in the Official World Golf Rankings, only two (McIlroy and Jordan Spieth) were in the field in 2014.

This means golfers like Jon Rahm, Scottie Scheffler, Tony Finau and Tom Kim will be set to test themselves at Valhalla for the first time in a major championship setting.

Two-time PGA Championship winner and Louisville native Justin Thomas (current No. 14) will be a crowd favorite at next year’s tournament.

Thomas went to St. Xavier High School in Louisville and played college golf at Alabama. He won the 2017 and 2022 editions of the PGA Championship.

PGA Tour maintains Kentucky presence for at least one more year

With the 2024 PGA Championship to be contested at Valhalla, the PGA Tour is guaranteed to maintain its presence in the commonwealth for at least one more year.

After the PGA Championship was played at Valhalla in 2014, Kentucky went a few years without a presence on the tour schedule before the arrival of the Barbasol Championship in 2018, which represented the first non-major PGA Tour event in Kentucky since 1959.

The Barbasol, played at Keene Trace Golf Club in Nicholasville in 2018, 2019, 2021 and 2022, will take place again this July. The 2020 edition didn’t occur due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

But the future of the PGA Tour in Kentucky is uncertain. The Barbasol Championship’s five-year sponsorship deal with the American shaving brand is set to end after this year’s event.

This year’s Barbasol Championship will be contested from July 13-16.

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