MARANA, Ariz. – As Arizona-based golf course architect John Fought began his work two decades ago on designing the South Course at The Gallery Golf Club, he traveled across the country to North Carolina. He wanted to reacquaint himself with one of America’s most beloved courses, Pinehurst No. 2.
He returned to Arizona inspired by elements of Donald Ross’ masterpiece – elements that the 48 players in this week’s LIV Golf Tucson field will encounter.
Of particular note are the turtleback greens unique to No. 2. While larger in size than the Pinehurst greens, the South course’s greens do have a similar shape that will repel poorly struck approach shots.
“Many of the greens have very defined cupping areas that are relatively flat but protect the hole locations with surrounding slopes that roll off away from the putting surfaces,” The Gallery course superintendent Mark Soto said. “The greens are all very interesting with multiple hole locations that test the best players, especially when the speed of the greens is at least 12 on the stimpmeter.”
The goal was to create a Ross-style course in the Sonoran desert. In addition to the turtleback-type greens, the holes were routed so that greens and tees are close together. Meanwhile, the course flows through the desert’s flora and fauna.
More on the South Course:
Previous occupants of the land include Native Americans from over 1,000 years ago. Artifacts and petroglyphs have been found throughout the Tortolita Mountains.
There are several bridges throughout the course, including a 60-foot bridge at the 18th hole. The implementation of the bridges allows Soto and his team to leave the system of arroyos intact.
Prior to construction, more than 650 native trees, 250 saguaros and many other cacti were salvaged to be re-planted post-construction. An additional 60,000 native shrubs were planted to create a tie-in to the surrounding fauna.
The South course hosted elite-level match play events in 2007 (won by current LIV Golf member Henrik Stenson) and 2008 (won by Tiger Woods).
No. 8. The 171-yard eighth is the shortest hole on the course, and the architect’s personal favorite par-3 hole. Plenty of risk and reward depending on the pin location.
No. 10. The 512-yard 10th plays as a par 5 for members, but will be a par 4 this week. It offers players a variety of options with a split fairway.
No. 4. The 496-yard par-4 fourth is one of just two holes on the course with a water feature, although it likely will not come into play for the pros. Even so, it’s arguably the South course’s best par 4 on the front side.
All other surfaces: 328 Hybrid Bermudagrass