The first World Golf Championship (WGC) event of the year, the Accenture Match Play, is moving from its previous home in California to the newly constructed South Course at the Gallery club near Tucson, Arizona.
The original course at The Gallery was designed by architect John Fought, a former US Amateur champion and two-time PGA Tour winner, alongside signature designer Tom Lehman, the losing US Ryder Cup captain from 2006. When the club felt the need to add another eighteen holes, Fought was hired alone to design the course.
Golf in the desert regions of the US, such as Arizona, is typically a target-based game.
Restrictions on the area of turf that can be maintained generally makes for courses that have narrow fairways, big carries and death just off-line. Fought says he designed the South Course to bely this stereotype.
The fourth hole, a long par four, offers classic strategic golf. A lake threatens the right side of the fairway, but front left and back right bunkers at the greenside mean that challenging the water is highly desirable to create an easier approach.
The par five tenth uses a split fairway to give the player a range of options. Central hazards compel the player to make a decision as to where he wishes to place his drive, while the narrow right fairway provides a simpler pitch. Hole twelve, normally a long par three, also includes a back tee 100 yards further back, creating an enticingly driveable short par four – among the most exciting of holes in matchplay.
A constructed creek impacts on the seventeenth and eighteenth holes. Meandering across the hole, the creek means that any golfer trying to reach the 600 yard par five seventeenth in two must be both long and accurate, while the player will need to flirt with the creek to the left of the fairway on the home hole to open up the long approach.