Valhalla provides a championship stage for our members to experience golf at its finest.
Valhalla, the great hall described in Norse mythology where the souls of Vikings feasted and celebrated with the gods, is now the namesake of a modern paradise for championship golf. Valhalla Golf Club is the culmination of Dwight Gahm's dream to build a world-class course capable of hosting a major golf championship. It is also the culmination of a history-making partnership bringing championship golf to Louisville on a recurring schedule and resulted in The PGA of America's first owned championship site.
For Dwight Gahm (pronounced "Game"), a prominent Louisville business leader and golf enthusiast, that dream - the creation of a traditional "golf-only" facility with an outstanding championship course that would host a world-class championship event - began in 1981.
Mr. Gahm and his three sons - Walt, Gordy and Phil - commissioned Jack Nicklaus to build a private golf facility on 486 acres of rolling Kentucky terrain that would provide its members with the highest level of service. With Nicklaus’ vision, it would be the caliber of facility that could host a major championship comfortably and provide the members with an incredible golf haven. Nicklaus, described the site in 1983 as a "golf designer's dream because there is a variety of terrain, vegetation and water to work with. Everything necessary for an excellent golf course is here: room for wide, tree lined fairways and spectacular golf holes." In the spring of 1984, after considering 40 potential course routings, construction began and the final product opened for play in June of 1986.
Valhalla Golf Club, located approximately 20 miles east of Louisville, opened its doors in 1986. Named one of the top three new private golf courses in the U.S. in 1987, the first year it was eligible, Valhalla Golf Club remains the No. 1-ranked course in Kentucky.
After Valhalla Golf Club opened, Mr. Gahm and his sons weren't content to merely enjoy the personal golf paradise they had created. Their next challenge was to become the host site of a PGA Championship. The PGA of America subsequently conducted research on Louisville as a potential host city for The PGA of America Championship and made several site visits to the club.
In 1992, Valhalla Golf Club was announced as the site for the 1996 PGA Championship. Valhalla Golf Club had all the ingredients necessary for a successful PGA Championship - a world-class golf course to challenge the best players in the world, a supportive community, and a top-ranked convention destination with excellent transportation, housing and entertainment services, and a central location reaching several major metropolitan cities within a 150-mile radius.
Later that year PGA of America Chief Executive Officer Jim Awtrey paid another visit to Valhalla Golf Club and walked the course with Mr. Gahm. Mr. Gahm shared his long-held desire to see Valhalla Golf Club grow and establish its own outstanding tradition of excellence in major championship golf. Awtrey told Mr. Gahm of The PGA's dream of owning and operating a limited number of high-quality golf facilities that could host golf's major championships. It was a time when shared visions became one.
In November 1993, an agreement was negotiated whereby The PGA of America agreed to a portion of Valhalla Golf Club. After the successful conclusion of the 1996 PGA Championship, The PGA of America assumed a majority ownership in the club and announced it would return to Valhalla Golf Club in 2000 to play the 82nd PGA Championship. At the conclusion of the 2000 PGA Championship, The PGA exercised the right to purchase the remaining interest in Valhalla. Today, Valhalla Golf Club is the flagship property for the PGA of America being their only private golf club in the PGA portfolio.
Valhalla Golf Club also made its mark on championship golf in 1996. Spectators found some of golf's most spectacular viewing areas in Valhalla Golf Club's natural amphitheaters. The scenic par-5, 542-yard 18th handled 20,000 spectators. The area surrounding the green on the par-4, 422-yard 17th accommodated a gallery of more than 8,000. Since then, the course has become known for its climactic finishes among championship events and its amphitheater views. It will be only a matter of time before the next major brings a spectacular finish.