PGA Championship Key Fantasy Stats

PGA Championship

May 16th – 19th, 2024

Valhalla Golf Club

Louisville, Ky.

Par: 71 / Yardage: 7,609

Purse: $18.5 million 

with $3,330,000 to the winner

Defending Champion:
Brooks Koepka

by Sal Johnson

Founder, Chief Data Officer, GOLFstats

E-mail me at:

This is based on the key stats for Valhalla Golf Club, using data from the 1996, 2000, and 2014 PGA Championships held at Valhalla and data from all players in the field with stats through 2024. We take their rank for each stat and then add the four categories. In addition to these events, the Senior PGA Championship has been held on the course twice, with Hale Irwin winning in 2004 and Tom Watson winning in 2011, which helps solidify Valhalla’s credentials.
We have all heard about new courses that many claim are magical wonders, but the actual test of a course is when the tournament is held, especially when a major championship is played on it. In 1996, the PGA of America took a chance on the course outside Louisville, Kentucky. Now, politics has a lot to do with hosting four PGA Championships and a Ryder Cup in 28 years. First, the PGA of America invested in the course when it was built in 1986 and then took over ownership. In 2022, the PGA sold the course to a group of Louisville investors, so we will see if the course will ever host another PGA Championship or Ryder Cup. Still, many say the course is excellent for a major championship and has been supported by the community. With the possibility of inclement weather hitting the Louisville area in mid-May, I wonder if that will play a role in future PGA Championships.
One of Valhalla’s advantages is its size; it sits on 485 acres 20 miles outside of Louisville. That gives it plenty of room around the holes to give spectators excellent views and hide the necessary cart paths behind hills or in the trees.

Valhalla sits on land that forms two very different nines. The front is a flat meadow with a river running through several holes. Although not considered a link design, several holes have that look. The back nine is completely different, played on the side of a hill with the fairways guarded by tall hardwood trees.
Many think the course is chosen as the site of a PGA Championship because of how challenging the course is, the excellent shot value, the tradition, and the promise that the venue will produce a first-class tournament with a worthy champion. In most cases, this is true, and Valhalla has delivered some of that. But let’s face it, the real reason Valhalla was chosen to host four PGA Championships in 28 years and the 2008 Ryder Cup is money and politics.
Politics, because the PGA of America largely owns the course. The money is twofold; a course fee is a minor deal on a course owned by the PGA of America, and two golf-starved Kentuckians will sell the place out.
Now, here is an interesting statistic. Jack Nicklaus is a very popular golf course architect, with a dozen courses hosting PGA Tour events since 2000. But in major championships, only two Nicklaus courses have been venues, here at Valhalla and Shoal Creek.
As a course, Valhalla is pretty good, with 18 very different types of holes. There isn’t a weak hole among them, with a couple proving unique. The toughest hole in ’96 and 2000 was the 12th, a dogleg right that plays 467 yards with most of the trouble coming off the tee. Miss the fairway, and you have no shot at the green, as evidenced in the previous two years when more bogeys and double bogeys were made on this hole than any other. In 2014, the 12th hole was the 4th hardest hole, and the 2nd hole was the hardest of the week, with a 4.362 clip. The hole was the hardest because it was changed from a par 5 in ’96 and 2000 to a 500-yard par 4.
Another tough hole was the par-5 seventh. On a day when most par-5s are pushovers, the seventh proved otherwise. Although it was played under par, it averaged 4.94 in 1996, 4.73 in 2000, and 4.76 in 2014, making it one of the toughest par-5s on tour.
In 2012, Jack Nicklaus was brought in to make some changes to the course for the 2014 PGA Championship. All 18 greens were redesigned, all bunkers were altered and cleaned up, and significant changes were made to holes 2, 3, 7, 9, 14, and 15. One of the most critical changes was changing the second hole from a par 5 to a par 4. Even with the reduction in par, 291 yards have been added since 2000.
For 2024, Valhalla has undergone another renovation as 151 yards have been added to the course, bringing it to 7,609 yards and a par of 71. The increase seems drastic, with the course increasing yardage by 2%. But in the decade since Rory McIlroy won the PGA Championship, the average drive on the PGA Tour has gone up a little less than 3%, so in the long run, it’s a wash; the course will play about the same as in years past. In recent years, the Nicklaus design team has made some changes for this year’s PGA Championship. Four holes have been altered; the par 4 first hole added 50 yards while the par 4 12th hole added 20 yards. The par 3, 14th hole, which was 217 yards in 2014, was stretched to 254 yards this year. Finally, the one hole that has never been altered over the years will see changes this year. In past years, it played to 542 yards and was considered a gambling hole with water not only in front of the green, making it hard to get home in two, but water guarding the right side of the fairway in the place to lay up. For this year’s PGA Championship, 28 yards were added to make it 570 yards. The water is still down the fairway’s right side but no longer in front of the green. However, with the added length, it’s still within reach for most of the field, but only if a drive is hit down the fairway.
The course has received high praise from the players in the three PGAs and the Ryder Cup, and I can see that happening again this year.
In 1996, the course averaged 72.636 (half a shot over par, then par 72), making it the 15th hardest course on the PGA Tour. In 2000, the course played to a 72.971 average (just over par, again a par 72), making it the 9th hardest course on tour that year. In 2014, the course played to a par 71, and the scoring average was 71.540, the 14th hardest course on the PGA Tour that year. The course had a lot of rain during the tournament, which was one of the reasons it played more manageable than in previous years.
Unfortunately, that will be the faith of this year’s PGA Championship, as showers will hit every day of play and the Tuesday and Wednesday before. So, we will see a lot of low scoring this year.

Valhalla Golf Club is a very demanding course. You have to hit it hard and long. Data is sketchy for 1996 and 2000, but in 2014, it ranked 14th hardest in driving distance out of 36 courses used that year (all 14 drives measured). So, with an average drive of 278.0 yards, players tend to use more drivers on this course and look to get it down the fairways and not lay up off the tee to avoid problems. The 2014 winner, Rory McIlroy, had an average drive of 329.4 yards and finished 1st. In 1996, winner Mark Brooks averaged 283.4 yards and finished T-21st, while in 2000, Tiger Woods averaged 305.0 yards and finished 1st.
In 2014, Valhalla saw 65.41% of fairways hit as it ranked 34th hardest in fairways hit. 2014 winner Rory McIlroy hit 41 of 56 fairways, which ranked T-10th. 1996 winner Mark Brooks hit 41 of 56 fairways, which ranked T-43rd. 2000 winner Tiger Woods hit 45 of 56 fairways, which ranked him T-12th.

One of the keys to playing well at Valhalla is hitting the greens. In 2014, the field hit 60.65 percent of the greens and ranked 13th out of 48 courses ranked that year. Winner McIlroy hit 50 of 72 greens and finished T-14th. In 1995, winner Brooks hit 50 of 72 greens and ranked T-30th, while Tiger Woods hit 60 of 72 greens and ranked 1st in 2000.

So here we go with our four key categories. Our first key stat is Strokes Gained Tee-to-Green because you have to do well in this stat to win. Unfortunately, this stat didn’t exist until 2003, so we only have hard data for 1996 and 2000.
*1996 – The field hit an average of 64.67% of the greens and ranked 22nd, while the field hit 71.82% of the fairways and ranked 40th. Winner Brooks hit 73.21% of the fairways, tied for 43rd, and 69.44% of the greens, and tied for 30th.
*2000 – The field hit an average of 6127% of the greens and ranked T-12th, while the field hit 70.81% of the fairways and ranked 40th. Winner Woods hit 80.36% of the fairways and finished T-12th and 83.33% of the greens, and finished 1st.
*2014 – The field hit 65.41% of the fairways at Valhalla, tying for 34th, and 60.65% of the greens, tying for 13th.
Winner McIlroy was T-14th in greens in regulation, hitting 50 of 72 greens, and T-10th, hitting 41 of 56 fairways. He finished T-32nd in Strokes Gained Tee to Green, losing 0.008 shots per round.

Scrambling is our second key stat, mainly because of the history of many missed greens. At Valhalla, the course is adamant about getting it up and down, and historically, we can see that players can get it up and down on missed greens.
*1996 – Only 47.54% of missed greens got up and down, making Valhalla the hardest course to get up and down on. Winner Brooks had a tough time getting it up and down as he only got it up and down on 10 of the 22 greens he missed, which ranked T-63rd.
*2000 – Only 50.46% of the greens he missed got up and down, making Valhalla the 6th hardest course to get up and down on. Winner Woods did a little better at getting it up and down as he only got it up and down on 8 of the 12 greens he missed, which ranked T-4th.
*2000 – Only 55.72% of the greens he missed got up and down, making Valhalla the 16th hardest course to get up and down on. Winner McIlroy got it up and down on 16 of the 22 missed greens, which ranks T-9th.

Another essential skill for success is putting. So for our third category, we chose making putts inside 10 feet.
The only year this statistic was measured was 2014, when the field at Valhalla made 87.48 putts inside 10 feet. It ranked 21st. For winner McIlroy, he got it up and down on 61 of 69 putts in that range, ranking 40th.
Looking at putting for Brooks, he led the putting average statistic in 1996, while Tiger Woods was 29th in putting average in 2000.

Our final category is one in which players must find a way to make birdies and eagles score well, Par Breakers since making eagles and birdies is significant.

So here is a look at the Par Breakers for the PGA Championship winners at Valhalla:
*1996 – 1,589 birdies (47th hardest of the 53 courses) and 44 eagles (48th) as 19.64% of the holes were played under par, making it the 35th hardest of the 53 courses that year.
Winner Mark Brooks made 23 birdies (best) and had one eagle, playing 33.33% of his holes under par and ranking 1st in Par Breakers.
*2000 – 1,500 birdies (40th hardest out of 57 courses) and 16 eagles (23rd) as 18.58% of holes played were under par, making it the 21st hardest of 57 courses that year.
Winner Tiger Woods made 25 birdies (best) and no eagles, as 34.72% of the holes were under par, ranking him 1st in Par Breakers.
*2014 – Made 1,462 birdies (32nd hardest of the 48 courses that year) and 40 eagles (T-38th) as 18.42% of the holes were under par, making it the 20th hardest of the 48 courses that year.
Winner Rory McIlroy made 21 birdies (T-4) and two eagles, and 31.94% of the holes played were under par, ranking him first in Par Breakers.
So the winner will have to make a lot of birdies and eagles.

So, if you look at all these stats, who has played the best at Valhalla?
34 of the players in the field this year played in 2014. Here are the best results:

Winner – Rory McIlroy
2nd – Phil Mickelson
T-3rd – Rickie Fowler
T-7th – Jimmy Walker
T-15th – Adam Scott
T-15th – Jason Day
T-15th – Brooks Koepka
T-24th – Justin Rose

Only four players in the field this year participated in 2000:
Winner – Tiger Woods
T-9th – Phil Mickelson
T-58th – Padraig Harrington
Cut – John Daly

Only two played in 1996, Phil Mickelson was T-8th and John Daly missed the cut.

*Strokes Gained Tee-to-Green: This stat is a great barometer of how players are playing from tee to green, taking a combination of driving distance, driving accuracy, greens hit and proximity to the hole.

*Scrambling: Which course is hard to get up and down on holes where players miss the greens? Since all the areas around the greens are mowed short and players are left with really hard shots to get it close, scrambling is important. You are not going to be perfect, so you need to make sure you can make pars from some tough spots.

*Putt inside 10 feet: This is very simple: count every putt inside 10 feet to see who makes the most.

*Par Breakers: A combination of eagles and birdies made during the week to see who has the most.

The 95 of the 156 players in this year’s field with stats from 2024. There are no stats for the 20 club pros in the field, foreign players, and LIV players.

Click any column title in the table header to sort columns.

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