The golfing great spent several hours at Valhalla on Wednesday, home of the 2008 Ryder Cup, trying to find a way to counter the modifications in equipment that have allowed today's pros to turn some of golf's most revered courses into glorified pitch and putts.
'Times have changed,' Nicklaus said. 'In the 20 years since we did the golf course, golf equipment has changed dramatically. The ability of the players has changed dramatically with the equipment. To challenge the players of today ... we need to add a little bit more spice to it.'
That means adding approximately 300 yards to the 7,200-yard layout in time for the 2008 competition between the U.S. and European teams. It also means dotting the course with more bunkers and trying to design a par 4 that players won't be able to hit a wedge into, as he described the par 4 No. 6 at Valhalla. It could play around 500 yards after the redesign.
When Valhalla opened in 1986, Nicklaus didn't imagine it would become outdated in two decades. But Nicklaus said the course -- which hosted the 1996 and 2000 PGA Championships and the 2004 Senior PGA Championship -- no longer has enough teeth to produce the kind of challenging golf a prestigious event like the Ryder Cup requires.
'It's a different era, it's a different game, I don't even relate to it,' he said. 'The golf that Tiger (Woods) has been playing lately has been phenomenal. I can't imagine beating all the players in the world hitting irons and leaving all the woods in the bag like he did at the British Open.'
Nicklaus said courses can only be stretched so far, adding that golf's two governing bodies -- the United States Golf Association and the Royal and Ancient -- seem to understand it's time to do something.
'I think they realize that the game has gotten out of hand and they know they're going to have to do some things,' he said. 'What those things are? They are the governing body and they're studying it. It took them a bit of time to get there and they're getting there. We'll just have to see. We may come back and shorten the course 500 yards next year.'
Nicklaus said an obvious change would be placing restrictions on the equipment.
'It's devil of a lot cheaper to change a golf ball or a spec on a golf club than it is to change every golf course that you play a golf tournament on, and a darn site cheaper,' he said. 'But it is what it is.'
Which is a game that Nicklaus doesn't recognize.
'I like the old game,' he said. 'I'm sure the guys today like the new game. Now the new game today is exciting, but we've got to take the golf courses and make it fit today's game.'
Nicklaus didn't see much of Woods' win at the PGA Championship at Medinah last week -- his 12th career major -- but joked that he doesn't think it'll take long for Woods to surpass his record of 18 major wins.
'He's going to blow by that in a week or two,' Nicklaus said with a laugh. 'I don't really think much about it. Obviously nobody wants their record to be broken but every time you pick up a newspaper, every time you pick up a magazine, 'It was 11, only seven to go.' 'It was 12, only six to go.' It keeps me in the newspapers, too. It keeps you guys writing about me, too. The type of golf he's playing, nobody is able to stop him right now.'
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