The Gallery's 9th Hole May be Toughest in Arizona
TUCSON - It plays 725 yards from the tips. Twelve bunkers guard its flanks like Tiger Woods' bodyguards at a major. Five of these bunkers and a desert ravine protect the green, and one of the desert's rare water hazards comes into play on approach shots.
The conditions described above are not a test of the Emergency Broadcasting System, they are the 9th hole at The Gallery - the Tucson area's latest and greatest high end golf course.
The Hole: The 9th hole at the Gallery in Marana, Arizona. A mythical par-5 that plays 725 yards from the tips, 609 yards from the blues, 575 yards from the middle tees, and 480 yards from the forward tees.
Architect: John Fought and Tom Lehman
The Layout: Tee boxes offset to the right of the fairway overlook a hole as daunting as you will find in southern Arizona. Two fairway bunkers on the right front of the fairway come into play if teeing off from the tips. Four other bunkers and water come into play on the second shot, especially for the fader or slicer. Five greenside bunkers and a desert arroyo guard a slightly elevated green that is a site for sore eyes by the time that most players get there.
The Strategy: Stay alive. A low handicapper can very easily go high on this hole, and can rarely ever go low. Forget about getting on in two, and focus on getting your approach shot over the ring of greenside bunkers and onto a favorable spot on the green. Rely on a good putt for a birdie attempt, and walk away grinning if you should be so lucky as to card a five.
The Average Golfer: Needs to concede that the 9th hole is a bogey hole, and that a double bogey is more indicative of course management than a meltdown. Slowly and methodically make your way up the fairway, making all efforts to stay out of the deep, steep faced bunkers that could quickly lead to a double digit score.
Don't Play: A fade on your second shot, or a chunked ball on your approach shot. The second shot fade will end up in one of the Gallery's only water hazards, and a chunked approach will end up in the greenside bunkers at best, or the desert arroyo at worst.
Play the Hole: Late in the afternoon, when the sun is beginning to drop over the Silverbell Mountains west of Marana.
Wanna Play?: The Gallery is still open to the public, and is playing at a ridiculously low $60 rate during the summer months. Call (520) 744-2555 for tee times.