2024 PGA Championship Preview: Everything To Know About Valhalla Golf Club

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Written By John Haslbauer | Last Updated
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The second major of the 2024 season is already here, as we head to Louisville for the 2024 PGA Championship at Valhalla Golf Club. Compare PGA Championship odds at the best sports betting sites to increase your potential PGA TOUR golf betting payouts. Scottie Scheffler, Rory McIlroy, and Brooks Koepka are the favorites.

Valhalla – known in Norse mythology as Odin’s domain to preside over slain warriors – is the site of the 2024 PGA Championship. The strongest field in golf so far this year battles it out for supremacy.

Set to host a Major for the fourth time since 1996, Valhalla Golf Club has produced dramatic finishes every opportunity given. Last played here in 2014, we mark a decade milestone for one of the game’s best. Rory McIlroy won his last Major here at the 2014 PGA Championship. Between Rory’s quest for another Major, Brooks’ search for his sixth, and Jordan Spieth’s Career Slam on the line (plus many others), we’re set for legacy-defining moments this week.

Valhalla Golf Club is a long and challenging course that offers a few more “breathers” than the most recent stretch of diabolical PGA Championship venues. We should expect elite total driving, long-iron approach play, and consistent scrambling for bogey avoidance as key characteristics among contenders this week. Before we lock in our golf bets, let’s preview Valhalla Golf Club and find the best PGA Championship odds across sportsbooks.

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Qualifying for the PGA Championship

It’s a Major Championship week, which means everyone who’s anyone tees it up. The field of 156 qualified by meeting one of the following criteria to quality:

  • Former PGA champion
  • Last five Masters, US Open, and Open Championship winners
  • Last three PLAYERS Championship winners
  • Senior PGA champion
  • Low 15 scorers and ties in the last PGA Championship
  • Low 20 scorers in the previous PGA Professional Championship
  • Top 70 in PGA Championship points from 2023 AT&T Byron Nelson to 2024 Wells Fargo Championship
  • Players from the most recent US and European Ryder teams (if within OWGR top-100)
  • Any tournament winner co-sponsored or sanctioned by the PGA TOUR since the last PGA Championship
  • Special invitations offered by the PGA Championship committee

Plenty of discourse exists behind the grey areas within qualification criteria. I’m all for the concept of offering special invitations to players who pass the eye test as Major contenders but don’t meet the set criteria, considering how antiquated the OWGR system is at the moment. It seems the PGA of America agrees, as they extended special invitations to six LIV golfers who were not otherwise exempt: Talor Gooch, Patrick Reed, Dean Burmester, Adrian Meronk, Lucas Herbert, and David Puig.

THE FIELD AT A GLANCE

Scottie Scheffler headlines as the favorite this week. He took off after winning back-to-back at The Masters and RBC Heritage for the birth of his first child. Much will be speculated this week about how sharp he’s kept his game while at home. A three-week break is fairly standard for TOUR players, so it’s unlikely to curb Scheffler entirely.

Rory McIlroy quickly bridged the gap between World No. 1 and World No. 2 in recent weeks. He won the Zurich Classic and contends at the Wells Fargo Championship into Sunday. However, he’s still in search of his first Major win since 2014. After Scheffler and McIlroy, there’s a small gap before other prospective contenders. Xander Schauffele, Brooks Koepka, Jon Rahm, and Ludvig Åberg. PGA Championship odds price them between 16-1 and 25-1.

Should there be any withdrawals this week, Alex Smalley is the next alternate. He’s followed by SH Kim, CT Pan, Nate Lashley, and Sam Ryder.

The list of PGA Champions in the field this week includes Justin Thomas, Collin Morikawa, Brooks Koepka, Jimmy Walker, Jason Day, and Rory McIlroy.

VALHALLA CLUB COURSE SPECS

  • Yards: 7,609
  • Par: 71 (4x 3s / 11x 4s / 3x 5s)
  • Greens: Bent (Firm & Fast)
  • Average Green Size: 5,000 Sq. Ft. (Below-Average)
  • Fairways: Zeon Zoysiagrass
  • Rough: 4″ Tall fescue / Bluegrass mix
  • Architect: Jack Nicklaus
  • Comp Courses: Torrey Pines (South), Olympia Fields, Bethpage Black, Muirfield Village, Quail Hollow, Oak Hill
  • Scorecard:

INTRODUCTION TO Valhalla Golf Club

Like other classic Eastern Major Championship venues, Valhalla offers a stern all-around test of a player’s complete game from tee to green. As it is standard with Majors, we should expect a premium on scrambling and bogey avoidance. However, despite its overwhelming length, Valhalla Golf Club surrenders scoring opportunities than most recent stateside Major venues. It’s rare to see three scoreable par-5s at a Major. And with two additional sub-400-yard par-4s, Valhalla offers a few more “breather” holes than recent venues like Oak Hill, Southern Hills, or Kiawah Island.

Driving distance will be advantageous here. Previous winners Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods demonstrated that. Valhalla Golf Club is the longest par-71 on the schedule, with 150 yards added since it last hosted a PGA Championship.

Is Valhalla purely a bomber’s paradise? Not quite. But those who repeatedly carry drives 300+ yards and opt for mid-irons on its four 200+ yard par-3s are starting on second base here. Despite the gaudy scorecard yardage, Valhalla’s identity is more suited to host the PGA Championship than the U.S. Open. It hasn’t stretched beyond its limits to challenge the field through sheer length alone.

Overall, the tried and true profile of above-average driving distance, long-iron proximity, scrambling from thicker rough, recent form, and an elevated baseline of performance in recent Majors remain crucial for 2024 PGA Championship odds contenders. In contrast to last year Oak Hill, control off-the-tee should be more rewarding. Firm and fast fairways help bridge the distance gap and, true to Jack Nicklaus’ design tendencies, there are wider pockets of fairway for conservative tee shots compared to Oak Hill, which encouraged a more driver-centric game plan.

History at Valhalla Golf Club

Designed by Jack Nicklaus in 1986, Valhalla Golf Club saw one of the most rapid ascents ever to hosting Major championship golf. It first hosted the 1996 PGA Championship, where Mark Brooks defeated hometown hero Kenny Perry in a playoff. Valhalla was tapped to host the PGA Championship three times between 1996-2014, the most of any venue over that span.

In 2000, Tiger Woods made his mark, winning a 3-hole playoff. Chasing down his birdie putt on the first hole of the playoff remains one of the signature highlights of Woods’ illustrious career.

In 2014, Rory McIlroy followed in Woods’ footsteps. He asserted dominance as the best up-and-coming player in the world, winning his third straight event, including two majors. He battled daylight on a dark and stormy Sunday evening, beating Phil Mickelson by one stroke in almost complete darkness.

Rory’s dominant 2014 draws plenty of comparisons to what Scottie Scheffler is currently doing. It’s hard to believe he is still searching for his first Major victory since that 2014 PGA Championship, but he enters this week in as good of form as ever.

Valhalla Golf Club has hosted three PGA Championships, two Senior PGA Championships, and the 2008 Ryder Cup, an impressive resume for a course just 38 years old.

It’s no coincidence it became such a popular choice for the PGA Championship, as the PGA of America has invested a 50% ownership stake in the club up until 2022. Since then, the PGA of America set its sights on Frisco as its new flagship club, set to host the PGA Championship in 2027. With the it no longer invested in Valhalla, it may be a while before we see a Major hosted in Louisville again. At the earliest, we won’t return until at least 2034.

A New Look in 2024

Keep in mind a few key adjustments for the 2024 PGA Championship relative to what we saw from Valhalla in 2014.

This will be the first time the venue hosts this event in May. The PGA Championship has historically been positioned as the fourth and final major of the season in August. Players weren’t thrilled playing this tournament in the humidity that comes with summer in Louisville – the same way modern players loathe beginning the FedEx Cup Playoffs in Memphis in August. Players should be thrilled to see Valhalla in a new light, with the early forecast calling for weather in the high 70s all week.

Switching from August to May on the schedule has also forced some slight agronomy adjustments. Previously Bentgrass throughout, the fairways and tee boxes were converted to Zeon Zoysiagrass in 2021. This change was intended to maintain the same playability of the course and allow for firm and fast conditions in the earlier months of the year.

“With the switch of the fairways to zoysiagrass, it will be slower growing in May than in August. That’s the one variable we’ve not had at Valhalla. From the two years we’ve had zoysia there, we know it plays faster and firmer than the bentgrass fairways ever did, so hopefully there will be more run on the ball. That’s both good and bad. The course plays a little shorter, but balls are more likely to run into bunkers, for example. Spectators on-site will certainly be more comfortable walking around in 70, 80 degrees.”

Kerry Haigh, PGA of America Managing Director

In addition to the seasonal changes, a few smaller modifications have been made to Valhalla since we last saw the course in 2014, in an effort to withstand the technological advancements in the modern game. With five new tee boxes added on holes No. 1, 12, 13, 14, and 18, Valhalla will play 151 yards longer than in 2014. All in all, we should view these course corrections as an adjustment for inflation, and should not expect the added distance to make the course play dramatically more difficult than how we last saw it.

Beyond the agronomy updates and new tee boxes, not much else has materially changed with Valhalla over the last decade, although some cosmetic changes (renovated clubhouse, renovated surrounding limestone fixtures, and a new horse farm on property) will add to the overall viewing experience.

How It Breaks Down

A par-71 at 7,609 yards, Valhalla Golf Club is the longest par-71 we’ll see all year. It’s sure to reward players with elite driving distance. As mentioned, a switch to firmer Zeon Zoysiagrass fairways makes for a firmer overall course, which should help players with less carry distance bridge the gap with a longer rollout.

The tradeoff with firmer fairways is a greater likelihood to run out into the strategically placed fairway bunkers. While there are select holes where bombers can carry past these fairway bunkers, the new tee boxes have done a great job of forcing decisions on whether to take less than driver for a longer second shot approach on many holes where near misses bring the fairway hazards into play.

In addition to the 62 bunkers on the property, water is in play on seven holes at Valhalla Golf Club to combat any thoughts of purely bomb-and-gouging every hole. It will be key to monitor pin locations each day, as several holes will require conservative approaches if tucked near the water or tight runoffs.

A bit uncommon for a Major venue, there are five par-4s measuring under 460 yards at Valhalla, which will not always require driver off-the-tee. Two holes measure under 370 yards, however neither are driveable and require tricky layups into tight landing areas. All three par-5s should be reachable for players with above-average driving distance who find the fairway with their drives.

The signature holes at Valhalla Golf Club include the island green at the 351-yard par-4 13th hole and the 570-yard par-5 finishing hole, known affectionately for its “toilet bowl” shaped green. Of the first five PGA Championship or Senior PGA Championships hosted at Valhalla, all have been decided by 1-stroke or in a playoff, leading to many climactic finishes on the 18th hole.

EVENT HISTORY AND COURSE COMPS

With no results to action on at Valhalla since 2014, few notable takeaways can be drawn from Course History. With that said, we’ll see some carry-over in the field this week, as Rory McIlroy, Phil Mickelson, and Rickie Fowler were the top-three finishers in 2014 and have each returned in the field in 2024. 2000 champion Tiger Woods is also back in the field this week, with lesser expectations to contend.

Looking over the last five PGA Championship venues (Oak Hill, Southern Hills, Kiawah Island, TPC Harding Park, Bethpage Black), the top 10 players in terms of SG: TOT are: Will Zalatoris, Scottie Scheffler, Bryson DeChambeau, Brooks Koepka, Justin Rose, Patrick Reed, Xander Schauffele, Collin Morikawa, Viktor Hovland, and Tommy Fleetwood.

This group predominantly features elite ball-strikers with plus-driving distance and great short game. Morikawa, winner at TPC Harding Park in 2020, is perhaps the only outlier in this group. His 2020 win came mid-COVID in considerably easier scoring conditions than the average PGA Championship.

For even more Valhalla Golf Club course specs, hole-by-hole breakdown with yardages, and past PGA Championship winners with their pre-tournament odds, visit our PGA Championship odds page.

Course Comps

It’s always difficult to find a perfect course comp for rotating major championship venues. What makes Majors so exciting is that we only see players tested with these extreme conditions and pressure four times per year. It’s not easy to simulate what’s expected of players at a weekly PGA TOUR stop.

What we do know is Valhalla’s defining characteristics are length and firm and fast conditions with very penal surrounding bunkers. That’s a very specific portrayal, and yet we’ve seen several other courses – either Majors or otherwise – embody a similar layout.

Top Course Comps

I typically looks straight to recent Major venues when handicapping the PGA Championship, but Valhalla Golf Club draws better comps to some of the tougher PGA TOUR venues in regular rotation. Muirfield Village, another Jack Nicklaus famed and challenging design, is a bit more generous off-the-tee, but overall features a very comparable layout to Valhalla.

From a pure yardage and green size spec standpoint, Torrey Pines (South) is nearly identical to Valhalla Golf Club on the scorecard, though Valhalla will require more strategy and precision off-the-tee. Quail Hollow, host of last week’s Wells Fargo Championship, is a timely barometer to show how the PGA TOUR’s best will stack up on a long, firm, fast, and challenging tournament course. Rory McIlroy and Rickie Fowler’s success across both venues suggests a strong correlation between the two.

Olympia Fields, host of the BMW Championship in 2020 and 2023, is another recent example of a challenging classical championship venue with similar emphasis on total driving and bogey avoidance.

On a secondary basis, Bethpage Black, Oak Hill, and Southern Hills stand out as the most recent Major Championship venues which offer the most similar characteristics to Valhalla Golf Club.

Combine performance across this list and the top-10 players in Comp Course History here are: Xander Schauffele, Rory McIlroy, Will Zalatoris, Justin Rose, Viktor Hovland, Patrick Reed, Scottie Scheffler, Tommy Fleetwood, Adam Scott, and Matt Fitzpatrick.

KEY STATS TO CONSIDER

  • SG: T2G (Recent Form)
  • SG: OTT / Driving Distance
  • SG: APP / Prox 200+
  • SG: ARG / Scrambling / Sand Saves Gained
  • Par-4: 450-500
  • Par-5 Scoring
  • Bogey Avoidance
  • Major History (L5 Years)
  • SG: TOT (Difficult Scoring Conditions) / Comp Course History
  • SG: Putting (Bent)

It’s always a great irony trying to pull a model together for a Major. These are the weeks we want to dig in the most for, and yet common sense often still prevails. A very short list of players are actually capable of leaning on their all around tee-to-green skillsets to separate from the pack on this difficult of a layout.

Players who lack a complete, all-around skillset will be exposed at Valhalla and, although conveniently cliché, you are going to need to have a complete game in terms of SG: OTT, SG: APP, and SG: ARG in order to compete at this venue.

Top Performers

The top players in those main three categories are as follows:

  • SG: OTT: Scottie Scheffler, Alejandro Tosti, Keith Mitchell, Rory McIlroy, Bryson DeChambeau, Min Woo Lee, Joaquin Niemann, Jordan Smith, Ludvig Åberg, and Xander Schauffele.
  • SG: APP: Scottie Scheffler, Tom Hoge, Keith Mitchell, Corey Conners, Jordan Smith, Jake Knapp, Tony Finau, Jon Rahm, Lucas Glover, and Will Zalatoris.
  • SG: ARG: Hideki Matsuyama, Patrick Reed, Scottie Scheffler, Justin Thomas, Mackenzie Hughes, Tommy Fleetwood, Ryo Hisatsune, Harris English, Taylor Moore, and Xander Schauffele.

In order of priority, I would have to rank SG: APP first and foremost, followed by SG: SG: OTT, the SG: ARG. Relative to other recent PGA Championship venues, there is an added advantage for consistently finding the fairway, and players who rank above-average in both driving accuracy and driving distance will be best positioned to generate scoring opportunities at Valhalla. Even still, it will take elite approach play for contenders to separate themselves this week.

Most Well-Rounded Players

In the spirit of well-roundedness, just seven players in this field rank above-average in each of the four major SG categories (OTT, APP, ARG, P): Scottie Scheffler, Xander Schauffele, Tyrrell Hatton, Alex Noren, Billy Horschel, Wyndham Clark, and Akshay Bhatia.

Weighting the priority stats, 10 players rank top-30 in SG: APP, top-40 in SG: OTT, and above-average in SG: ARG: Scottie Scheffler, Xander Schauffele, Si Woo Kim, Wyndham Clark, Doug Ghim, Akshay Bhatia, Aaron Rai, and Tony Finau. Of that list, Schauffele, Bhatia, and Clark also rate out as above average putters.

Complete Game For Difficult Conditions

A difficult Major venue is known to put pressure on every aspect of your game, which is why Major champions are celebrated in the height of golf lore. While there are only four Majors per year, plenty of events feature difficult scoring conditions that we can draw from when modeling for top course fits this week.

The top 10 players in terms of SG: TOT across all US-based Majors over the last five years are: Will Zalatoris, Scottie Scheffler, Rory McIlroy, Xander Schauffele, Collin Morikawa, Jon Rahm, Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson, Cameron Smith, and Viktor Hovland.

Looking beyond Majors to all courses played in difficult scoring conditions over the last two seasons, the top 10 grinders are: Will Zalatoris, Scottie Scheffler, Bryson DeChambeau, Justin Rose, Patrick Reed, Xander Schauffele, Collin Morikawa, Viktor Hovland, Tommy Fleetwood, and Rory McIlroy.

To summarize, I’m looking for players who are proven in comp difficult conditions and past Majors, are well-rounded in SG: OTT, APP, and ARG, and excel in Par-4: 450-500 scoring and Proximity 200+. Just nine players in the field this week fit each of those criteria:

  • Scottie Scheffler
  • Xander Schauffele
  • Collin Morikawa
  • Tyrrell Hatton
  • Tony Finau
  • Dustin Johnson
  • Patrick Cantlay
  • Hideki Matsuyama
  • Joaquin Niemann

PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: Jon Rahm

The frontman of Legion XIII stumbled out the gates in his first return to full-field, 72-hole competition, finishing T45 at the 2024 Masters. If there was ever a permissible time for a top-3 player in the world to be a complete non-factor in a Major championship, a first title defense at Augusta National is one of them. Whether it be the added media responsibility, adjustments to a new Masters week routine that includes hosting the Champions Dinner or simply searching for the same emotional high that comes with claiming your first green jacket, it’s become expected for the defending Masters champion to falter the very next year.

If we resign to the notion that the deck was stacked against Rahm at The Masters, it creates an ideal buy-low opportunity for bettors who are willing to simply cast one bad week aside. It is easy to fly in under the radar when your viewers are forced to subscribe to the CW App or Caffeine TV, but Jon Rahm has not skipped a beat since joining LIV, finishing top-10 in all seven LIV events this season.

Recent form aside, Valhalla Golf Club embodies characteristics of all the courses Jon Rahm has slain to date, having dominated at Torrey Pines, Muirfield Village, and Olympia Fields over the last four years. At his best, Rahm separates from the field with his elite total driving and long iron proximity, two areas that Valhalla has proven to place a premium on.

With more recent hot spurts of form from other favorites like Scheffler, McIlroy, Koepka, and Schauffele, this sets up for an ideal “buy-low” spot on Rahm, who continues to sustain elite form leading into this week.

2024 PGA CHAMPIONSHIP Odds: DFS player pool

With all the course-fit profiles in mind, I’m leaning early toward the below player pool. Naturally, I’m looking their way in the 2024 PGA Championship odds, as well. I’ve broken the list down by tier for DraftKings, with DFS pricing and odds already released.

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Tier 1

Scottie Scheffler
Rory McIlroy
Brooks Koepka
Jon Rahm
Xander Schauffele

Tier 2

Patrick Cantlay
Collin Morikawa
Cameron Young
Bryson DeChmabeau
Wyndham Clark

Tier 3

Sahith Theegala
Tommy Fleetwood
Joaquin Niemann

Tier 4

Corey Conners
Sepp Straka
Stephan Jaeger
Sungjae Im

Tier 5

Rickie Fowler
Akshay Bhatia
Taylor Pendrith
Harris English

2024 PGA Championship Odds: Model Results & Breakdown

In my BTN model, I’m emphasizing Comp Course History, Recent Form in Majors, PGA Championship Event History, and SG: TOT (L16) Rounds, followed by a more balanced mix of SG: APP, SG: OTT, Par-4: 450-500, Prox: 200+, SG: P (L36, Bent), Bogey Avoidance, Sand Saves Gained, and Driving Distance.

Model Favorites

The No. 1 player in my model is unsurprisingly 2024 Masters champion, Scottie Scheffler Assuming he makes his tee time Thursday, he remains the man to beat. With four wins and a T2 over his last five starts, he’s playing golf at a superhuman level.

After Scheffler, the rest of my model’s top 10 this week features: Xander Schauffele, Rory McIlroy, Brooks Koepka, Cameron Smith, Bryson DeChambeau, Will Zalatoris, Matt Fitzpatrick, Jon Rahm, and Hideki Matsuyama.

I’m attempting to stay patient and wait out continued PGA Championship odds drift in Major week. To date, my only PGA Championship future bet is a 300-1 on Rickie Fowler. I am considering many of the top LIV players this week. That list includes Jon Rahm, Brooks Koepka, and Bryson DeChambeau. I’ll begin to lock in my betting card on Monday when the odds adjust.

Check back in later this week for more updates, and best of luck navigating 2024 PGA Championship odds!

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