Suzy Whaley makes history as first woman to captain United States men in PGA Cup, Americans victorious in England

Suzy Whaley made history Sunday.

Suzy Whaley made history Sunday.

Whaley, a PGA Honorary President from Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, captained the United States to victory in the 30th PGA Cup at Foxhills Resort and Club in Surrey, England, against Great Britain and Ireland. It is the Americans’ first overseas victory since 2009 and their second Llandudno International Trophy win. In the overall series, which dates to 1973, it’s the 19th win for the U.S.

Yet for Whaley, she’s the first woman to not only captain the men’s PGA Cup team but win it, too. She was also captain of the victorious United States Women’s PGA Cup team in its inaugural event in 2019.

“I have been able to do a lot of amazing things in my career, and this ranks right at the very top,” said Whaley.

30th PGA Cup
Captain and PGA of America Honorary President, Suzy Whaley during single matches for the 30th PGA Cup at Foxhills Golf Club on September 18, 2022 in Ottershaw, England. (Photo by Matthew Harris/PGA of America)

The PGA Cup originated in 1973 at Pinehurst Country Club in North Carolina as an outgrowth of the PGA Professional Championship. Structured after the format of the Ryder Cup, with match-play competition between the U.S. and Europe, the PGA Cup features the top PGA Club Professionals from both sides of the Atlantic.

The U.S. led 9.5-6.5 entering singles on Sunday, and American Michael Block started the day with an incredible comeback. Block, the PGA Head Professional at Arroyo Trabuco Golf Club, in Mission Viejo, California, birdied five of his six final holes, including two lengthy birdie putts on Nos. 15 and 17, to win the match 1 up.

“It really set the tone for everybody else,” said Whaley, who followed Block across the back nine. “He fought so hard, and he earned us that first point. That first point is so crucial for the rest of the team. I have never seen anyone fight so hard for a point.”

PGA Life Member and Austin native Omar Uresti, a two-time PGA Professional Champion, earned the clinching point for the United States, 4 & 3 over Great Britain & Ireland’s Simon Lilly, to help secure a 15.5-10.5 road win.

“It started to get a little dicey,” admitted Whaley. “But in the end, we got it done.”

The United States holds a 19-7-4 advantage in a series. The U.S. won in 2019 at Omni Barton Creek Resort & Spa in Austin, on a miraculous final day rally.

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Why did the PGA of America move to a Dallas exurb? You can guess some of the reasons (and there are more than 150 million)

“We were totally happy in Florida. We did an RFP, sort of assuming we’d get paid to stay, right?”

FRISCO, Texas — If the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex is a city bulging on steroids, the exurb of Frisco is an overly enthusiastic spotter egging on the beast, screaming loudly for one final rep.

In late August, city council members and officials from the city enjoyed a day most other municipality planners would dream of: the unveiling of a cutting-edge, multi-million dollar home of a national sports organization, one that will bring a dozen or more major events to town over the next decade. Celebrities stirred about the 100,000-square-feet facility, which includes practice bays, indoor putting greens, conference rooms, and a massive foyer/conference area.

Among those on hand at the event were Dallas Cowboys greats Tony Dorsett, Ed “Too Tall” Jones, Drew Pearson, Billy Joe DuPree and the team’s owner, Jerry Jones, as well as LPGA Hall of Famer Kathy Whitworth and former WNBA superstar Nancy Lieberman.

But for Frisco City Councilman Bill Woodard, while the ceremony was celebratory, it’s something he and fellow city officials have become comfortable with. Frisco — a once-sleepy prairie town that had a little more than 6,000 residents in 1990 but is now closing in on a quarter of a million — has used sports as a vehicle to distance itself from the numerous other small municipalities in the region, using unique public-private partnerships and massive incentives to lure teams. Or in this case, the PGA of America.

Although it seems to be working, it’s still a work in progress. Originally a train stop near a watering hole, Frisco’s humble beginnings have not kept its planners from thinking big. And when pro golfers are milling about town when the PGA Championship comes calling in 2027, they’ll have to fade into the background behind numerous other high-profile athletes.

The city is the home of the 12,000-seat Ford Center at the Star, a complex where the beloved Cowboys practice, and area high school football teams are often given access. The National Hockey League’s Dallas Stars practice at the Comerica Center, a 7,000-seat venue that is also the home of the G-League affiliate of the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks.

There’s more. The 20,500-seat Toyota Stadium that houses FC Dallas, a member of Major League Soccer, has hosted of the Frisco Bowl since 2017, and the Division I FCS football championship game for a dozen years.

And the movement to sports really began back in 2003 when the Texas Rangers moved their Double-A affiliate into what is now called Riders Field, an interesting and much-lauded park that sits at the intersection of the Dallas North Tollway and the Sam Rayburn Tollway.

While we’re on it, let’s talk tolls and travel. Yes, Frisco is technically a bedroom community of Dallas, but the only way to get from the north part of town — where the two new PGA Frisco championship courses are housed — to, say, Reunion Tower in the heart of downtown Dallas is by taking the tollway. This is no small feat. Without traffic, it’s at least a half-hour commute and during rush hour, this can easily turn into an hour. Also, the cost? A cool $12.12 to make the round-trip.

But despite the distance from downtown, Frisco officials hardly seem worried. In fact, Woodard — who has been on the city’s council for six years after spending six years on the planning and zoning commission — was pleased but not surprised this day was finally here as he mingled with other city representatives off to the side at the opening ceremonies.

PGA of America Frisco opening 2022
The PGA of America Frisco had its official opening Aug. 22, 2022, in Frisco, Texas. (Photo: Tim Schmitt/Golfweek)

“We’ve always believed we can act like a big city. And we can do a lot of things that other cities can’t,” he said. “And it’s that mentality that’s allowed us to go after these big projects that most people would say, ‘Well, there’s no way, a city that size can do that project.’ We find a way, and we’ve always had a very positive proactive attitude in doing that.”

How much will Frisco, others kick in?

Of course, that attitude includes giving large tax breaks to sports organizations. In fact, when city officials approved the incentives package for the PGA of America back in 2018, it was expected to top $160 million.

According to the Dallas Morning News, the breakdown looks like this:

  • For the initial development of the public portion of the project,
    the city of Frisco was on the hook for $13.3 million; the Frisco Community Development Corp., $13.3 million; Frisco Independent School District, $5.8 million; and the Frisco Economic Development Corp., $2.5 million.
  • Now that things are in motion, the city will also provide performance incentives, which could reach as high as $74 million.
  • And the state of Texas will allow PGA Frisco to run without hotel or sales taxes for a decade, along with some mixed beverage taxes. That is expected to save the project somewhere in the neighborhood of $62 million over the first 10 years.

Frisco’s Economic Development Corp. is also on the hook for about $1 million a year to help with the relocation from Florida, job creation and other incentives.

Those massive numbers, especially for a city that only has about 225,000 residents, were enough to woo the PGA of America, which had a number of major suitors.

In fact, Seth Waugh, the CEO of the PGA of America, said the group didn’t think it would leave its home in Palm Beach Gardens.

“We were totally happy in Florida,” he said. “We’d been there for 60 years, you know, all good. We did an RFP [request for proposal], sort of assuming we’d get paid to stay, right? That’s how it works, right? You get the state and the county to step up. They kind of did it. But we went to, you know, all the other places in the country that you would go to, so Charlotte and Atlanta and Phoenix and, you know, everywhere you can imagine. Frisco jumped out. They just jumped out.”

But why?

“Financially, they were attractive,” he said. “It’s obviously a business-friendly place. But this isn’t just a building. This is a destination where we can really get a return on our investment here in a way that we can’t elsewhere.

“And then, as you start adding it up — you’ve got a workforce that’s as good as anywhere, educated and willing. And then, the centrality was a big deal because you know we actually built something that our members are going to come see. There’s no reason to come to our old headquarters building right now. They’ve got a reason to come.”

PGA of America Frisco opening 2022
The PGA of America Frisco had its official opening Aug. 22, 2022, in Frisco, Texas. (Photo: Tim Schmitt/Golfweek)

Omni, school district played major roles

Omni was quick to jump on the plan, and is putting the finishing touches on a project that includes 501 guest rooms and seven four-bedroom golf villas. The hotel will feature a dozen restaurants/food shops, three pools — including an adults-only rooftop infinity pool — 127,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor meeting and event space, and a destination spa.

A 10-hole short course called The Swing and a 75,000 square foot putting course called the Dance Floor will also add to the flavor of the property.

And the school district’s involvement is key as well. Since Frisco ISD put up nearly $6 million for the project it’s getting a few key pieces in return — including use of the swing bays and simulators. Also, the new Panther Creek High School, the district’s 12th high school, recently opened its doors across the street.

Waugh joked during the opening ceremonies that Panther Creek will be one of the state’s best golf schools immediately.

“If they don’t win a state championship in like five years, either they’re not very athletic or we’re not very good teachers,” he joked.

So for now, this seems a match made in heaven — albeit a hot, muggy heaven. And while there are certainly those who have opposed the massive incentives offered up, Woodard said he and the city’s councilmembers believe those who live in Frisco are on board.

“I think overwhelmingly people are supportive of it. I mean, there’s always going to be detractors for one reason or another, but I think our residents have seen what we’ve built and what we are trying to do and the positive aspects of the job attraction and what that brings to the area,” Woodard said.

So is this finally it? Has Frisco landed its last big sports fish?

“I’m afraid to say it’s not possible to do something else because we kind of thought that with it with The Star and then the opportunity with the PGA came along and we’re like, ‘Oh we gotta make that happen,'” Woodard said.

“So I’ll just say that, you know, we’re looking for these great things, that’ll make the city that much stronger, and be a great place to live and work and to play.”

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Photos: Take a look inside the sparkling new PGA of America home in Texas

The move from Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, was certainly a bold one.

FRISCO, Texas — PGA of America CEO Seth Waugh stepped to a podium on Monday, looked back through massive windows at two sprawling golf courses behind him — one designed by architect Gil Hanse and the other by Beau Welling — then turned back toward the 500-or-so attentive guests invited to the opening of the organization’s breathtaking new home and smiled.

“Welcome to our field of dreams. Build it and they will come,” Waugh said in his typical wry style. “And in this case, it’s 500 of our closest friends in the future. It’ll be all 28,000 of our PGA professionals and millions of golfers that enjoy this, this land, and all the future players, You know, you realize that in most places that I’ve spent most of my life if we’d done this it might be a blurb in a sports page that we moved our home here.

“But we are in Frisco —  in Dallas — and it’s front page news. And it’s incredible what’s happened here. You know you’re on to something if (Dallas Cowboys owner) Jerry Jones is sitting in the back row. I certainly hope this doesn’t reflect on the time that I come to AT&T (Stadium) in the future where I might sit.”

The move from Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, was certainly a bold one. PGA Frisco — which was born from an incentives package the organization couldn’t ignore — sprawls over 600 acres of former ranch land and has grown into a $550 million mixed-use project. The facility, which is just over 100,000 square feet, includes practice bays, indoor putting greens, conference rooms, and a massive foyer/conference area where Monday’s presentation took place.

Among those on hand for the ceremony were a number of Dallas Cowboys legends — Tony Dorsett, Ed “Too Tall” Jones, Drew Pearson, Billy Joe DuPree and the aforementioned owner, Jerry Jones, as well as LPGA Hall of Famer Kathy Whitworth and former WNBA superstar Nancy Lieberman.

“I’ve been very lucky to work all over the country, but I really think that this project will be the epicenter of golf here, right here in Frisco, Texas,” said PGA of America president Jim Richerson. “That will do things to promote and bring people from different backgrounds into the game, that will do things to bring people from different backgrounds in the industry of golf that will utilize golf in a way to bring people together from the business world from the sports world, and from the golf world and a very unique way that’s never been done before.”

Here’s a look at the new facility, which will see 26 high-profile events over the next dozen years, including a pair of PGA Championships (2027 and 2034), the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship in both 2025 and 2031, two KitchenAid Senior PGA Championships (2023 and 2029), a pair of National Car Rental PGA Jr. League Championship (2023 and 2024), and three PGA Professional Championships in 2024, 2030 and 2033.

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Lexi Thompson hit with slow-play fine after gut-wrenching loss at KPMG Women’s PGA

A brutal Sunday at the KPMG Women’s PGA didn’t end for Lexi Thompson when the last putt dropped.

BETHESDA, Md. – A brutal Sunday at the KPMG Women’s PGA didn’t end for Lexi Thompson when the last putt dropped.

Coming off the last hole at Congressional Country Club, Thompson and Hye-Jin Choi were informed by LPGA officials that they’d been fined for slow play. Thompson’s father, Scott, confirmed to Golfweek that the fine was $2,000.

Thompson was playing in the final group alongside Choi and eventual winner In Gee Chun. The group was put on the clock with two holes remaining Sunday.

The last 30 minutes of coverage of Saturday’s round was bumped off of NBC to CNBC after the last group took 5 hours and 45 minutes to complete their round.

KPMGLeaderboard | Photos | Money

Two-time PGA Championship winner Justin Thomas weighed in on Twitter when he heard the final group had been put on the clock.

Thompson squandered a two-stroke lead with three holes to play at Congressional, extending a victory drought that dates back to 2019. She finished one shot back of Chun in a share of second with Minjee Lee.

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Heartbreak for Lexi Thompson as In Gee Chun claims KPMG Women’s PGA Championship

Lexi Thompson closes with a 73 but In Gee Chun survives after going 75-75 over the weekend.

BETHESDA, Md. – In the shadow of the nation’s capital, the LPGA’s most tortured American star suffered heartbreak once more at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship. Eight years after Lexi Thompson won her first major, she fell just short of her second.

The golf world held its collective breath for a woman who has experienced more heartbreak inside the ropes than anyone in recent memory. Thompson hadn’t won in 50 starts on the LPGA, and her penchant for short missed putts – the kind of jab that looks like a kid next to a hot stove – haunted her down the stretch.

In Gee Chun opened with a course-record 64 at the KPMG Women’s PGA to storm out to a five-shot lead after the first round. By early Saturday, she was seven clear of the field.

But that near perfect play began to unravel late Saturday and Chun slept on – only – a three-stroke lead in pursuit of her third different major title. Chun became an LPGA member after winning the 2015 U.S. Women’s Open and then recorded the lowest 72-hole score in major championship history at the 2016 Amundi Evian Championship.

KPMGLeaderboard | Photos

Shades of a runaway victory similar to Rory McIlroy’s at the 2011 U.S. Open covered Congressional until Sunday. Suddenly there was an anything-can-happen vibe with major champions Thompson, Hannah Green and Sei Young Kim within striking distance along with super rookies Hye-Jin Choi and Atthaya Thitikul.

Thompson struck fast, birdieing the first hole to cut the lead to two strokes and it wasn’t long before the American was in command as Chun came unraveled with a front-nine 40.

Thompson led by two with nine holes to play.

2022 KPMG Women's PGA Championship
Lexi Thompson plays her shot from the fifth tee during the final round of the 2022 KPMG Women’s PGA Championship at Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Maryland. (Photo: Scott Taetsch-USA TODAY Sports)

But the ghosts of short misses that have haunted her in pressure-packed moments came to visit on the back nine. A two-foot par putt on the 14th hole that never had a chance was the most egregious.

With Minjee Lee breathing down her back and the lead cut to one, Thompson poured in a statement birdie putt from just off the green on the 15th to push her lead to two with three to play.

A tournament that looked like the ending had been written at the halfway point suddenly had an endless supply of dramatic turns.

After a short miss for par on the 17th, Lee stuffed her approach on the 18th to post the clubhouse lead at 4 under.

Then Thompson made a mess of the par-5 16th, dropping four strokes with a series of miscues around the green to make bogey and fall into a tie with Chun at 5 under.

On the 18th, Thompson gave herself a birdie chance to tie Chun at 5 under, stuffing her approach to about 10 feet but Thompson didn’t hit a firm putt, leaving it short and right. She posted a final-round 73 to finish at 4 under.

Moments later, Chun had a four-footer for par for the championship and she made it to win her third different women’s major.

Chun shot 75-75 on the weekend yet pulled out the victory to break her 0-for-75 winless streak worldwide.

Thompson tied Lee for solo second, one shot back.

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Justin Thomas critical of officials putting final group on clock at KPMG Women’s PGA Championship

“Seems like a good read the room situation,” Thomas tweeted.

Justin Thomas was watching some major championship golf Sunday and didn’t like what he saw.

During the final round of the 2022 KPMG Women’s PGA Championship at Congressional Country Club outside of Washington, D.C., the final group of Lexi Thompson, In Gee Chun and Hye-Jin Choi were put on the clock with just two holes remaining.

Slow play has been a topic of discussion over the weekend at the women’s PGA, especially after the last group Saturday played in 5 hours and 45 minutes, causing the last half hour of coverage to be bumped off of NBC.

The two-time PGA champion admitted there’s a problem with slow play on Twitter, but also wanted officials to read the room, especially that late into a final round of a major.

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In Gee Chun continues to crush the field at Congressional, leads by six at KPMG Women’s PGA

In Gee Chun is at 11 under and holds a six-shot lead over Lydia Ko and Jennifer Kupcho.

BETHESDA, Md. – In Gee Chun described her first round at historic Congressional as a near “perfect game.” She knew her opening 8-under 64, a course record on the renovated Blue Course, would be a tough act follow.

When asked if her second-round 69 at the KPMG Women’s PGA felt disappointing in comparison, Chun smiled broadly and said, “No, I think it’s still a great score.”

Who could argue?

Chun’s 11-under 133 total gives her a six-shot lead over Lydia Ko (67) and Jennifer Kupcho (68). Through two rounds she ranks tied for first in greens in regulation (31/36), tied for 15th in fairways (26/28) and second in putts per green in regulation.

After making four birdies with her 7-wood in the first round, she made three consecutive with her 9-wood early Friday. Both clubs are new to her bag this week, replacing her 4-hybrid and 3-hybrid. She got the idea after a scouting trip to Congressional a month ago.

“I used the 7-wood when I was really young,” she said. “I think at the beginning to start golf. I don’t know what age I stopped to use it, but I think almost more than 10 years. The 9-wood, it’s the first time to use.”

2022 KPMG Women's PGA Championship
In Gee Chun plays her shot from the tenth tee during the second round of the 2022 KPMG Women’s PGA Championship at Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Maryland. (Photo: Scott Taetsch-USA TODAY Sports)

Chun earned LPGA status by winning the 2015 U.S. Women’s Open at Lancaster Country Club. The following year, she sank a 10-foot par putt on the last hole of the Amundi Evian Championship to finish at 21 under, setting a record for the lowest 72-hole score in men’s and women’s major championship history.

While the feat gave her more confidence, it also created higher expectations.

“That’s how I got a lot of pressure from my golf,” she said. “I just wanted to make perfect and another perfect. … I don’t want to get more stressed, or I don’t want to try to make a perfect game on the course. I just want to enjoy my golf game. That’s the key. I believe it’s the key.”

Ko, a two-time major winner who has yet to win the Women’s PGA, is in the midst of four consecutive starts. She has finished in the top five in each of her last three, including a fifth-place at the U.S. Women’s Open. Keeping her focus over the weekend will be key, she said.

“I know that sometimes when you are fatigued, you could lose focus and then hit some mistakes that you normally wouldn’t if you were a bit more sharp,” she said. “I think being rested is also really important for the weekend.”

Kupcho comes into this week fresh off a playoff victory at the Meijer LPGA Classic. In April, she held a six-stroke lead going into the final round of the Chevron Championship and held on to make her first victory on the LPGA a major.

“I think just in general, being back is a lot better,” said Kupcho, “whether it’s with a lot of people or not. I think being behind and trying to catch up is better.

“I mean, I had the lead at Chevron by a few strokes, so I know how it feels to be in her position. Being behind is at least my preferred way.”

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Emma Talley finishes opening round without putter after ‘freak’ accident at KPMG Women’s PGA Championship

Thursday was already tough, but Emma Talley’s day got tougher after she damaged her putter.

BETHESDA, Md. – Emma Talley often hits her left foot with her putter. Not hard enough to break a toe. Just enough to let out a little steam, coupled with a “Gosh, dang it.”

On Thursday at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, a day that was already tough by any standard on Congressional’s Blue Course, Talley’s got tougher when she struck her foot with the putter after a short missed putt on the sixth hole and damaged her club.

“It was a freak accident,” said Talley, who said the club had probably weakened over time. While Rule 4.1a(2) says that regardless of the nature of what caused the damage, the damaged club can be treated as conforming for the rest of the round, Talley instead pulled out her 58-degree wedge to replace her putter.

KPMG Women’s PGALeaderboard | Photos

The former U.S. Women’s Amateur and NCAA champion played her last four holes in 3 over, finishing at 6-over 78. The tears flowed during and after the round. Talley said she felt both frustrated and embarrassed.

“Obviously you want to shed light when you’re out here,” said Talley. “If they didn’t see what happened, they’d probably think I snapped it over my leg.”

That was far from the case.

In Gee Chun leads after a sensational 8-under 64. On Friday, the field will be cut to top 60 and ties.

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Photos: KPMG Women’s PGA Championship at Congressional Country Club

The club, which was established in 1924, is hosting its first women’s professional major.

The third major of the LPGA’s 2022 season is the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship at historic Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Maryland.

The club, which was established in 1924, has hosted several men’s majors but this will be the first women’s professional major there.

Originally designed by Deveneau Emmet, the course hosted the 1949 U.S. Junior Amateur, the 1959 U.S. Women’s Amateur, the 1964 U.S. Open, the 1976 PGA Championship, the 1995 U.S. Senior Open and the 2011 U.S. Open, which was won by Rory McIlroy.

Just ahead of the KPMG, the PGA of America, KPMG and the LPGA announced a big bump in the purse for the 2022 tournament, doubling it to $9 million.

Take a look at some of the best photos of the week.

PGA of America sells major-championship site Valhalla Golf Club to Louisville investors

Several Valhalla members form investment group to buy Valhalla, past site of majors and a Ryder Cup as well as the 2024 PGA.

Valhalla Golf Club has been sold by the PGA of America to a group of Louisville investors who want to “continue to bring major championships” to Kentucky, according to new co-owner Jimmy Kirchdorfer.

“Valhalla, for a 36-year-old club, has amazing history,” said Kirchdorfer, an executive with ISCO Industries. “It’s already hosted a Ryder Cup and three major championships. We just saw it as important that this is returned to local ownership. That way, we can control. We know people are going to operate in the best interest of the community.”

Kirchdorfer is a Valhalla board member who joined the club in 2004 and has previously worked with the PGA on events that have been held at the course. Three other well-known local executives joined him in the purchase: former Yum! Brands CEO David Novak, Musselman Hotels President Chester Musselman and Junior Bridgeman, a former University of Louisville basketball player who built an entrepreneurial empire following a 12-year run in the NBA.

The PGA, which bought the course from founder Dwight Gahm in 2000, confirmed the sale in a Wednesday press release, and Valhalla members were informed in an email from Keith Reese, the club’s general manager. The sale is effective immediately, according to Kirchdorfer, who did not disclose the cost of the course.

Paul Azinger
USA captain Paul Azinger is sprayed with champagne after defeating the Europeans on Day 3 of the 37th Ryder Cup at the Valhalla Golf Club in 2008. (Frank Victores-USA TODAY Sports)

“Valhalla Golf Club has proven itself to be a wonderful test of championship golf, one that is as fair as it is challenging for the top golfers in the world,” PGA of America President Jim Richerson wrote in the release. “We look forward to partnering with the new ownership group on a highly anticipated 2024 PGA Championship and working with the new owners to continue to have it as one of our championship sites.”

Valhalla, which stands on nearly 500 acres in eastern Jefferson County, is “an icon in the community,” Kirchdorfer said. It had been the only private club owned and operated by the PGA, and it was ranked by Golfweek’s Best as the No. 1 private course in the state. It ties for No. 74 on Golfweek’s Best 2022 ranking of Modern Courses in the U.S.

The course was designed by golf legend Jack Nicklaus ahead of its opening in 1986 and has hosted three PGA Championship tournaments, including a famed victory by Tiger Woods in 2000. It was home to the Ryder Cup in 2008, bringing stars of the sport from around the world to Louisville, and is set to host the PGA Championship again in 2024.

The 2024 event, which tournament officials say could pump $100 million into the local economy, will not be affected by the sale.

Kirchdorfer, a longtime golf advocate, said he got to work forming a group to bid on Valhalla after members were informed in November that the PGA had been approached by a potential buyer and would entertain other offers. All four buyers are longtime members of the club.

Tiger Woods 2000 PGA
Tiger Woods celebrates making a birdie putt on the 18th hole to force a playoff at the 2000 PGA Championship at the Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Kentucky. (Donald Miralle/Allsport)

Valhalla’s status brings value to the community, he said, which the ownership group took into consideration. And while some club members expressed concerns over potential redevelopment when it hit the market last year, Kirchdorfer said the 18-hole course isn’t going anywhere.

Instead, the ownership group will work to highlight “Kentucky hospitality,” he said, and “build upon the great tradition and culture that’s already there.” So, concerned club members and others in the Louisville golf community have got that going for them, which is nice.

“Valhalla’s the crown jewel of Kentucky golf, and we wanted it locally owned like it was with the Gahm family,” Kirchdorfer said. “The Gahm family had an amazing vision and took a big risk when they took a farm and hired Jack Nicklaus to build a golf course with the hopes of bringing major championship golf to this community – and they succeeded, which a lot of people don’t.

“We just wanted to make sure that the next owners had the same mission of doing what’s best for Valhalla and the community of Louisville.”

The new owners have plenty of work to do in the next two years ahead of the 2024 PGA Championship, set for May 16-19 that year. The group plans to invest in the property to ensure it’s a “reflection of our community,” Kirchdorfer said.

An impressive turn at that 2024 tournament can send a message to the PGA – which works to promote the game with more than 28,000 members – that Louisville is a capable host for the sport’s biggest moments, according to Kirchdorfer, who previously served as vice chair of a Louisville PGA Championship.

“When we show how much this community will support the ’24 championship, we’re confident they’ll continue to bring more championships,” he said.

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