The Takeaway: The South course at The Gallery is one of the most player friendly courses I've come across ever let alone in the desert. The ultra generous fairways, ability to play a ground or aerial game, and excellent conditions make it a pleasure to play for all skill levels numerous times. While there are sexier courses in Arizona is terms of flashy features, the South course at Gallery is a great track with solid views and a wide range of appeal. Grade B+
Designer: John Fought in 2003
Cost: Private Private with some limited outside play
Phone Number: (520) 744-2555
Course Website: Official Website - Visit Gallery Golf Club (South)'s official website by clicking on the link provided.
Directions: Get here! - 14000 Dove Mountain Blvd., Marana, AZ
Accolades: Host of the 2007 and 2008 Accenture Match Play Championship.
What to Expect: The South course at The Gallery Golf Club northwest of Tucson is a John Fought design laid out through the saguaro cactus' prevalent in the area. The terrain features a gentle but steady slope that falls from north to south and lends itself to a blank canvas in which to work with from a designer's perspective. What Fought did with this canvas was create an extremely impressive combination of playability, variety, and challenge. The fairways are the most generous I've come across in Arizona which is a welcome feature for those familiar with how penal playing in the desert can be. As seemingly always, Fought does an excellent job of designing entrances into the greens that can accommodate low running shots as well as aerial approaches. The large putting surfaces are shaped with soft undulations that combine a formidable challenge while still allowing for putts to be made from any part of the green. The bunkering throughout the course is not sexy in presentation but is effective in placement. The extreme widths of the fairways allow for bunkers to come into play off the tee without tightening down the landing zones to an unenjoyable level. The course is kept in excellent shape which always adds pleasure to the round and the lengthy views across the saguaros and to the mountain is appealing to the eye. While the South course at Gallery doesnâ€™t feature many dramatic holes designed to signature the property, it does feature a solid layout from start to finish and provides a routing that is enjoyable to play time and time again.
By the Numbers
Individual Hole Analysis
Signature Hole: 14th Hole – 192 Yard Par 3 – While multiple tee boxes of offering various angles is a common place on par 3s, having multiple greens isn't found nearly as much. On the 14th at Gallery's South course, the series of tee boxes go straight back but there are two separate greens in which to play similar distance and angles away from the teeing ground. The green on the left is slightly raised while the green on the right is flat with the putting surface separated by a group of bushes. Variety and options in design is a huge factor in keeping a golf course interesting and the South course comes through with this unique offering.
Best Par 3: 8th Hole – 171 Yards – I really enjoy a quality uphill par three and the 8th hole gave that to me. The hole is scenic with a wash area dividing the tees from the green while a series of boulders fronts the putting surface. The signature saguaros dot the background and just enough of the green is visible from the tee to give golfers a fair idea to hit it without revealing everything. With a short to mid iron in your hand and a large green, the raised green shouldn't instill worry in players who may not hit the ball very high. In a day where punishingly long par 3s and all too common, this is a welcome mid length one-shotter that you are sure to enjoy.
Best Par 4: 18th Hole – 447 Yards – A strong, but not overwhelming, par four is what Fought designed as his finishing hole on the South course. A small water hazard is located between the fairway and front tee box and should be a non-factor for most players. The steady climb uphill and bunkers pinching in from the right however should cause some concern. With desert to the left and trees blocking the path of players that bail out to the right, your most accurate drive of the round is required on the 18th. The approach shot plays to a raised green that hosts bunkers on each side. On a course that is more than generous with its fairway widths and green size, the South's finisher requires two pretty precise shots to reach the green in regulation and offers one of the best tests at Gallery.
Best Par 5: 10th Hole – 534 Yards – My favorite hole on the South course was this uphill par five boasting a split fairway. A boulder lined waste area winds up the fairway and requires players to pick a side to challenge the hole from on the way up to the green. The mini arroyo splitting the fairway features hillocks on either side which can prevent your ball from going into the waste area or potentially deflect it into the trouble. The pin position for the day very well may determine which fairway you'd rather play up that day, though neither one is terribly penal if your tee ball happens to end up on the opposite side you were aiming for though a tree sits on the left side of the fairway and can potentially cause an issue.
Birdie Time: 7th Hole – 349 Yard Par 4 – Ignore the large saguaro off the tee that is peppered with golf ball holes and instead start licking your chops as you prepare to take on this short and slightly downhill par four. With a large fairway and only a few bunkers to contend with in front of you, there is little reason not to unload on your driver and get your tee shot as close to the putting surface as possible. The green is huge which should almost guarantee a green in regulation with a respectable drive. Your best chance at scoring a birdie is whenever you are putting on a green in regulation and the 7th hole is your best chance at assuring that.
Bogey Beware: 4th Hole – 496 Yard Par 4 – Some players may come to hole and ask, "Is this a par five?" While normally I would chuckle to myself at such a reaction, the nearly 500 yard 4th hole warrants such a question. A large pond frames the right side of the hole and may have players second guessing themselves when considering cutting some distance off by challenging that side of the hole which also offers the superior angle to the green. A pair of bunkers pinch the opening into the putting surface thus requiring absolute precision from the golfer bouncing a ball into the green otherwise you'll need to fly it all the way home. The brute length required off the tee and accuracy on the approach will likely cause more than one player in your foursome to fall short of Old Man Par's challenge on this hole.