Local Guys Bought the Valhalla Club, and Now They’re Hosting a Major

A group of Kentucky businessmen are trying to give the P.G.A. Championship a Louisville feel, complete with nods to Churchill Downs.

The quality of a major championship venue is defined by its champions, and Valhalla Golf Club, the site of this week’s P.G.A. Championship in Louisville, Ky., has a list of past winners that stands out at every level.

Tiger Woods won the 2000 P.G.A. Championship at Valhalla, and Rory McIlory won it there in 2014. Hale Irwin won the 2004 Senior P.G.A. Championship at Valhalla, and Tom Watson won it there in 2011. At the 2008 Ryder Cup, the United States squad, led by Paul Azinger, beat the European Team.

Even on the junior side, the course has hosted elite players. Akshay Bhatia, who at 22 has two PGA Tour victories, won the 2018 Boys Junior P.G.A. Championship there. Anna Davis, now 18, won the 2021 Girls Junior P.G.A. Championship at Valhalla and went on the next year to win the Augusta National Women’s Amateur.

What its new owners, a group of Kentucky businessmen who bought Valhalla in 2022, said it didn’t have was a club presence to go with its illustrious championship history. So when the P.G.A. of America, which runs the championship, decided to sell Valhalla, the new owners moved in to change that.

“We couldn’t let it go to an out-of-town golf management firm,” said David Novak, the co-founder and former chief executive of Yum Brands, which owns Kentucky Fried Chicken, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut. “We felt they’d be more interested in making money than building Valhalla’s reputation.”

Rory McIlory won the 2014 P.G.A. Championship at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Ky.Brett Hansbauer/Sports Illustrated, via Getty Images

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Source: Golf -


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