Gahm's dream with Valhalla was to create a traditional "golf-only" facility
with a world-class championship course began in 1981, when he and his three sons commissioned Nicklaus to build the course on 486 acres of rolling Kentucky terrain. The course opened in 1986, and was named one of the top three new private golf courses in the United States in 1987, the first year it was eligible. It remains the No. 1-ranked course in Kentucky and one of "America's 100 Greatest Courses," according to Golf Digest.
With the facility open, the family set out on its next quest – to bring major championship golf to Louisville. In 1992, the PGA of America awarded the 1996 PGA Championship to Valhalla, and in 1993 Gahm and the PGA of America reached an innovative agreement in which the PGA would purchase 25 percent of the club.
After the success of the 1996 PGA Championship, the PGA assumed 50 percent ownership in the club and announced that Valhalla would host the 2000 PGA Championship. After that event, the PGA bought the remaining interest in Valhalla.
"If you ever ask him, he'll just say, 'Oh, it's dumb luck. We just got lucky,'" Valhalla's PGA General Manager Keith Reese told The Louisville Courier-Journal
. "That was his response to everything about that, and that's part of the humble nature. But it is amazing. When they started building the club here, they were thinking big. They wanted to build a championship venue, and there are few people in this world who get to see that dream come true."
Gahm and his family have long owned and operated Kompact Kitchen, a cabinet-making business based in southern Indiana. A native of Portsmouth, Ohio, he moved to Louisville in 1934 and in 1941 graduated from the University of Indiana, where he played football for the Hoosiers.
According to Gahm's wishes, there will be no funeral or visitation. His ashes will be displayed at the family business.