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Bear's Track

Jack Nicklaus, Winner of a Record 18 Majors, Shows the Way as He Walks Through PGA Course He Designed

August 17, 2000

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — He had 18 major titles, so you would have to say that Jack Nicklaus is a major major expert, and that makes this week's PGA Championship one of the more noteworthy in his 39-year professional career.

Not only is the PGA Championship being staged at a course Nicklaus designed - Valhalla Golf Club - it also represents the year's final major and the conclusion of the 60-year-old legend's last trip playing all four majors in one year.

This will be the fourth PGA Championship to be staged at a Nicklaus Design course, a list that includes the 1996 event at Valhalla and the 1984 and 1990 championships at Shoal Creek in Birmingham, Ala.

By the end of the year, 60 Nicklaus Design courses will have hosted either a PGA Tour event, an international event, an unofficial pro event or a significant amateur championship.

But first, Valhalla.

According to Norse mythology, Valhalla was where Odin met the great warriors who had fallen in battle. In other words, big-time Viking heaven.

Here's what the course designer himself, a Mr. Jack William Nicklaus of North Palm Beach, Fla., has to say about his Valhalla:

The Front Nine

1. Par 4, 446 yards

"Even though this is a new tee and 20 yards have been added to keep the driver in your hand, this is a fairly straightforward opening tee, shot into this slight dogleg left. The front part of the green is a very difficult pin position, while the back side of the green is more generous. Balls hit to the middle or back of the green will afford most players a fairly simple start. This might be a little tougher starting hole than I usually design, and the green is a little more severe."

2. Par 5, 535 yards

"Again, a new tee, and about 20 yards were added to this hole, but it should remain a reachable par five. Left all the way down this hole is a no-no because of the creek/wetlands area. The bunkers will guide you on the hole, and the green has a lot of roll to it."

3. Par 3, 208 yards

"A pretty straightforward par three, bunkered left and right, This is a pretty demanding tee shot into a fairly narrow green. You don't Want to short-side yourself here."

4. Par 4, 350 yards

"An interesting par four and one of my favorites on the golf course. You can bite off as much as you want on the tee shot, hitting anything from driver to three-wood to one-iron to two-iron. It should be just a little pitch into a two level green, but you want to make sure you are on the proper level when putting. I like par four holes with options, and this hole has lots of them."

5. Par 4, 465 yards

"A long dogleg right that doesn't present a lot of problems off the tee because of a generous landing area. But it can be tough to reach the green from the rough. The green is one of the largest on the course and is bunkered right."

6. Par 4, 421 yards

"Not a particularly long hole but a strong one. It's also a position hole off the tee. Players should still have a short iron into a green that has a very deep bunker in the front and a hollow over the green."

7. Par 5, 597 yards

"One of my favorite holes on the course, this hole originally played through a quarry. There's a double fairway, and I'm happy that the PGA chose to 'use both for this championship. You can play this dogleg left up the right or the long way - which they did in the 1996 PGA. If you do, it's probably a three-shot hole. Or you can go left and through the quarry. It's a decision hole. The guys are going to enjoy the hole but might have a tough time with it."

8. Par 3, 166 yards

"A short, perched par three, You have to knock your tee shot on the green or you will have a very difficult recovery. If you miss the putting surface, you're going to have a hard time making three."

9. Par 4, 418 yards

"This dogleg right is bunkered right, and a fairway bunker has been added on the left. It's a strong, good-looking tee shot over Floyd's Fork. The second shot is to an elevated green and perhaps the most severe green on the golf course. It has a lot of pitch to it. But the severity of the green will help bring the ball to the hole with a right-side pin placement. You want to keep the ball under the hole here if at all possible.'

The Back Nine

10. Par 5, 551 yards

"A medium-length par five. Mounding has been added along the right side to turn the hole right to left a little bit. The second shot is semi-blind, and it will be difficult to carry the ball on the green. You can try to feed the ball into the green from the left side with a running fade. The green runs away from you. This hole can be bogeyed just as easily as it can be birdied."

11. Par 3, 168 yards

"This middle-length par three is bunkered front and right. The two-level green requires a precise iron shot to the proper level. It's very difficult to putt if you're on the wrong level."

12. Par 4, 467 yards

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