Nicklaus explains closure and renovations to Valhalla members - wave3.com-Louisville News, Weather & Sports

Nicklaus explains closure and renovations to Valhalla members

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Jack Nicklaus Jack Nicklaus
Joe Steranka Joe Steranka
Don Dreher Don Dreher
Scott Trager Scott Trager

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - The recent announcement of a major renovation and temporary closure at Valhalla Golf Club has been cause for concern for some members of the PGA of America-owned golf course. Thursday, club owners brought in course designer Jack Nicklaus to put any fears to rest.

The Golden Bear was onsite at Valhalla to answer member's swirling questions about the upcoming renovation.

"It's been 25 years and golf equipment has changed dramatically and players have changed how they play the game dramatically," Nicklaus told reporters.

To roll with the times, the famed Louisville course needs to address a major drainage issue and rebuild all 18 greens. Owners knew the only person to explain the investment was Nicklaus.

"Unfortunately, we're going to inconvenience the members for awhile," said Nicklaus, "but after 25 years that's not too bad and most every golf course at that point in time the irrigation gets tired and the greens start to get tired."

While Valhalla has played host to the 1996 and 2000 PGA Championships, two Senior PGA Championships and the 2008 Ryder Cup, the club must be on par to host another PGA Championship in 2014. But with big fees on the line in a down economy some members weren't happy that the closure would keep them off the greens until next summer.

"We can't forget that we are in the retail business," said Joe Steranka, CEO of PGA of America.

Steranka said the only way to sustain Valhalla as a top 100 facility is to invest in it. Owners are asking members for half dues and members were offered three other courses during the shutdown.

"The biggest thing at any private club is communication and being able to share with the members," said Steranka about bringing Nicklaus to town.

Nicklaus met with Valhalla members privately and went over the renovation hole by hole.

"I'm feeling very good about it," said Don Dreher, a Valhalla member. "I'm anxious to see the changes and get back to playing."

 "I think the members reacted the way they should, they asked him very pertinent questions and he had all the answers," said Scott Trager, another Valhalla member.

When asked if he believed the visit from Nicklaus helped calm some of the members concerns, Trager answered, "I do. It certainly satisfied the people that were here tonight."

All the members we talked with told us they were satisfied after talking to Nicklaus.

There are three local courses which have been offered to Valhalla members during the renovation - Lake Forest, Louisville Country Club and Harmony Landing.

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