Jack Nicklaus is overseeing a renovation to Valhalla Golf Club that aims to modernize the major-championship venue’s greens, improve drainage and irrigation throughout, enhance the stature of the Top 100-ranked facility for its members, and begin preparations to host the 96th PGA Championship in August 2014.
The greens will be rebuilt to USGA specifications and a more heat-tolerant bent grass will be installed. The new state-of-the-art irrigation system will replace the existing 25-year-old infrastructure, in order to modernize course maintenance practices and tolerance to weather conditions. Other areas to be addressed are some fairway drainage and improvement of grasses in the rough. Renovations are expected to be completed by summer 2012.
The Golden Bear and oldest son, Jack II, who is the President of Nicklaus Design, visited Valhalla in September to begin work on the renovation and to inform and educate members of the progress. The Nicklaus tandem was working closely with a team from the PGA of America, lead by CEO Joe Steranka.
“The extremes of severe summertime weather these last two years have necessitated the enhancements to begin (in September) in time for the fall growing season,” Steranka said prior to the visit.
Nicklaus told members that better irrigation and greens repair will be the focus, Drainage was an issue during the U.S. Senior Open in May, and the floor and fringe around many of the greens viewed on Nicklaus’ visit were suffering from dead or dying grass.
Nicklaus added that it was time the course be brought up to present day conditions to meet the technology today’s players are utilizing. He emphasized that it will not be a full makeover of Valhalla, as the fairways and most of the bunkers would not be touched.