2008 Ryder Cup: Valhalla Is Ready

2008 Ryder Cup: Valhalla Is Ready 1IF THE AMERICANS DON’T WIN the 2008 Ryder Cup, it won’t be because U.S. Captain Paul Azinger didn’t do everything within his power to give his side every possible advantage. That includes the setup of Valhalla Golf Club, the Ryder Cup venue in Louisville, Kentucky.

I’m in the Louisville area this week − not because of the Ryder Cup, but, sadly, due to a death in my family. I will go home tomorrow and return in five days.

But I can tell you that the local media are already buzzing about the big golf event of the year. In fact, when I entered the state on its eastern border near Ashland, a large brown highway sign along I-64 declared, “Welcome to Kentucky, Home of the 2008 Ryder Cup.”

The big subject in yesterday’s Courier-Journal was the golf course and how Captain Azinger has guided the setup to give his young bombers an advantage over Nick Faldo’s European squad. That setup includes sensible rough, relatively generous landing areas 300 yards from the tee, and speedy greens.

“I’m tired of playing in 5-inch rough, personally. So I think a bomber is probably going to like the course,” Azinger was quoted as saying.

“Europe has done a great job of exploiting an advantage on us for a long time,” Zinger added. “I am looking for anything I can get. This is the first time that we have done this, and it might be just a perception thing. But If I can get a perceived advantage, then I am going to hunt it down.”

Mark Wilson is the golf course superintendent of Valhalla, a Jack Nicklaus-designed layout. As you might imagine, the course is in superb condition.

“The greens are great, not only from a speed standpoint, but they’re so clean,” Wilson said in a statement.

“When we had the opportunity to regrass we also had the opportunity to change years of soil makeup. Everything we changed was a good thing and made it better for us to grow grass.”

While the rough along the fairways is not as penal as past Ryder Cup setups, the grass around the greens is reportedly long and thick. And the greens are running at 12 feet on the stimpmeter. That’s quicker than two years ago at the K Club where the Europeans demolished the Americans 18½ to 9½.

−The Armchair Golfer

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Neil Sagebiel

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