Is Valhalla Golf Club a good golf course? Not really, in my opinion. But this 1986 Jack Nicklaus design in Louisville, Kentucky, has yielded two classic PGA Championships in the past 25 years, and if it produces a third this week, I may need to do some soul-searching. In preparation for that eventuality, here are three course-related talking points that I expect to be relevant over the next few days:

Bomber’s paradise. Valhalla is your prototypical modern PGA Championship venue: long, somewhat repetitive, and reliant on rough as a hazard around narrow fairways and small greens. This type of design and setup strongly favors distance over accuracy off the tee. Yes, players will want to stay in the short grass as much as possible, but since everyone is going to miss fairways, the advantage will lie with those hitting wedges and short irons out of the rough as opposed to mid-irons.

80s fashion. Your mileage may vary, but to me, the shaping of the golf features at Valhalla seems as dated as an acid-washed denim skirt over leg warmers. Just look at how the different components of the course contrast with each other: whereas most of the fairways have long, smooth contours (except where there’s an abrupt hollow for a catch basin), the fairway surrounds are covered with busy, artificial-looking mounding. To my eye, these two styles of shaping clash with each other, and neither has a convincing relationship with the surrounding natural landscape.

And don’t get me started on the waterfalls.

A Kentucky horse race. The silver lining of holding a major championship at a wet, strategically one-dimensional golf course is that we’re all but assured of a hectic Sunday. Justin Thomas put it well in his press conference yesterday: “I think when you give all of us very similar places to play from, you have the opportunity for more bunched leaderboards.” Hey, I’ll take it.


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This piece originally appeared in the Fried Egg Golf newsletter. Subscribe for free and receive golf news and insight every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. For more coverage of the PGA Championship, visit our PGA hub here.