GALLOWAY NATIONAL GC
Course Architect: Tom Fazio (1995), renovation/redesign work (2000s)
Year Opened: 1995
Location: Galloway Township, New Jersey
Slope: 146. Rating: 74.5
Hole-by-Hole: 1 - Par 4 400 Yds 10 - Par 4 475 Yds
2 - Par 3 149 Yds 11 - Par 5 501 Yds
3 - Par 4 375 Yds 12 - Par 4 400 Yds
4 - Par 4 453 Yds 13 - Par 4 477 Yds
5 - Par 3 189 Yds 14 - Par 3 219 Yds
6 - Par 5 548 Yds 15 - Par 4 432 Yds
7 - Par 4 402 Yds 16 - Par 5 532 Yds
8 - Par 3 196 Yds 17 - Par 3 249 Yds
9 - Par 5 539 Yds 18 - Par 4 486 Yds
Par 35 3,251 Yds Par 36 3,771 Yds
Key Events Held: USGA Men's State Team Championship (2012),
U.S. Open Championship Qualifier (2010),
NCAA Division I Men's Golf Regional Championship (2009),
USGA Senior Amateur Qualifier (2009),
Ivy League Men's Championship (2007-08),
USGA Mid-Amateur Qualifier (2008),
USGA Senior Amateur Qualifier (2004),
NJSGA Mid-Amateur Championships (2001-02, 05).
Awards Won: #70 by Golf Digest - America's 100 Greatest Courses (2009-10),
#34 by Golfweek - Modern Golf Courses built after 1960 (2009),
#3 by Golf Digest - Best in State, New Jersey (2009-10),
#46 by Golfweek - America's 100 Best Modern Courses (1999),
America's Best New Courses by Golf Digest (1995).
HISTORY: "Galloway National will be one of my best courses ever." When Tom
Fazio makes that statement nothing more needs to be said. The master architect
has crafted some of America's greatest courses, including Shadow Creek (NV),
Flint Hills (KS), Wade Hampton (NC), Victoria National (IN) and Pinehurst No.
4 (NC), to name a few. In fact, Fazio designs boast 13 courses ranked in the
top-100 of America's greatest by Golf Digest and his redesign work, well,
guess who was called in to renovate Augusta National? So his word is good in
Going back to Galloway's modest beginnings, it was the dream of Commerce Bank
CEO Vernon Hill II to create a pristine, private world-class golf course, one
in which he didn't have to play five-hour rounds. Hill, along with business
associates and fellow golfers John Silvestri, Steve Lewis and Ken Lowther
purchased several pieces of property just north of the historic Seaview
Resort, with over 5,000 feet of frontage on Reeds Bay in 1986.
Mike Killian, who's been Director of Golf at Galloway National since 2001,
said it best, "They were just four gentleman who love golf, have been coming
down here for years in the 1970s, and were just tired of the slow play."
Then the pursuit began of an architect with the vision and love of the game
that Hill and Silvestri shared. According to Killian, "They went out in 1988
and started looking at different golf courses across the world, Scotland,
Ireland and the United States." After an extensive and exhausting search, it
came as no surprise, "They fell in love with Fazio."
Fazio was rewarded with a "whatever it takes," budget and was awarded free
reign to work his magic through the New Jersey pinelands and along the marshes
of Atlantic City. All he did was create a venue that was nominated as one of
the country's best new courses in 1995 and has since been named the 70th best
course in the United States by Golf Digest. How impressive is that? Well, only
eleven courses built after Galloway National in the last decade rank ahead of
Galloway, three of which were designed by Fazio!
Over the past several years, Galloway National has had Fazio return to do
renovation work, such as adding several new teeing grounds, tweaking the
bunkers and increasing the yardage to over 7,000 yards.
By design, Galloway National has been luring the powers that be to host
national events, such as the 2009 NCAA Division I Men's Golf Regional
Championship, and the 2010 U.S. Open Championship Qualifier.
During the NCAA Regional Championship, the University of Alabama came out on
top, led by medalist Hunter Hamrick, the only player in the field of 75 to
finish the three rounds under par, and that was at one-under. "I'm very proud
of my team," said coach Jay Seawell. "To win on such a great golf course makes
it even more special." How tough was the course for the championship, the
Crimson Tide's winning score was 22-over-par! Hamrick equaled the course
record of 67 shot by teammate Bud Cauley and runner-up David Holmes of
It's just a matter of time until Galloway gains the national spotlight by
hosting a world-class event. Who knows, maybe a USGA Amateur championship
might makes its way to the Jersey shore.
REVIEW: You'll need to make your mark at Galloway National on the front nine
and the opening hole is a perfect start. The sharp, dogleg right par four of
just 400 yards, features a generous landing area off the tee. Avoid the bunker
on the left corner and the deep, cavernous trap on the right and you'll have
just a short iron remaining. The putting surface is long, narrow and elevated,
so adjust accordingly with your approach. As you stroll up towards the multi-
level green, you're afforded wonderful views of the Atlantic City skyline.
The shortest hole on the course is the par-three second. Just a miniscule 149
yards from the gold markers, this gem requires pinpoint accuracy. Playing
alongside Reeds Bay, this hole is impacted drastically by the elements, as the
wind usually blows hard from right to left. All carry over marsh, you'll need
to avoid the fronting bunker, not to mention more sand to the left. By the
way, the undulating putting surface is diabolical, especially front left. Any
shot just offline will fall off into a chipping area that sits well below the
green. And you thought the front nine was easy, hah!
Once again, don't be misled by the simplicity of the straightforward, par-four
third. Just 375 yards and with a seemingly wide fairway, beware of the trees
on either side of the landing area, not to mention the sandy wasteland to the
left. Three-metal off the tee is the play, as the fairway runs out and
narrows. A slightly elevated approach will require a little more juice to
reach the tiny and very undulating putting surface. A word of caution, don't
miss long, as it will prove to be very costly on the scorecard.
The heat begins to turn up when you reach the rugged, dogleg left fourth.
Trees guard both sides of the fairway and an oasis of sand covers the bend, so
you need to accurate off the tee. A medium to long iron, with a slight fade
will be needed to reach a fairly small target. Trees down the right side
partially block the approach to a back-right flag, so play towards the center
of the green for your best shot at par. Now's not the time to be heroic.
Playing back towards the AC skyline, the fifth is a wonderful par three that
stretches to 189 yards. The real defense to this hole, other than the wind, is
the very difficult putting surface. A medium iron should suffice, but when the
elements are up, you might want to add an extra stick or two. The front-left
portion of the green features a huge swale and will attack any offline play,
sending your shot slithering off the green. A back-left pin is very difficult
to attack so stay clear, as the fall-off towards the bay is disheartening.
After a short, leisurely walk to the sixth tee, you reach the first of four
par fives. The longest of the trio, No. 6 is certainly reachable, but not
without consternation. Thick trees run down the entire right side and a Sahara
expanse down the left. The fairway is generous, so bust your best and you can
get home in two. If you're laying up, avoid the 40-yard long trap down the
right and you'll have just a short pitch to a very receptive green. Birdies
can be had if you play your cards right.
One of my favorite holes at Galloway National is the short, strategic seventh.
It's just 390 yards from the tips, so a long iron or fairway metal off the tee
works best and play down the right, as a tall, thick tree stands guard on the
corner of this slight dogleg left. Note to player; water also looms near on
the left. From the fairway, a short iron should remain to the slightly
elevated putting surface that rolls from back to front. A sandy grave lurks
left of the green, with shaved chipping areas around the remaining portions of
the promised land. Sure, birdie is possible, but par is a good score.
Although certainly not the longest par three on the course, the eighth could
be construed as the most difficult. A shade under 200 yards, your play is
mostly over the pond shared by the seventh. With several different teeing
grounds, the hole can play as little as 150 yards or as much as 220. A back-
left pin is impossible to get at, unless of course you have the stones to play
a sweeping draw or a high cut. Either way, you'll earn your score no matter
what's your modus operandi.
The closing hole on the front side is another risk-reward par five. Played
uphill off the tee, the fairway is generous, but to miss is a disaster thanks
to fescue, rough, trees and sand. With a spine down the center, the fairway
tilts both right and left, but a big tee ball can leave a shot at getting
home. Don't be fooled by a downhill appearance as you look toward the green.
Take out your three-metal and give it ride. One word of caution, stay clear of
the sand and tall trees right. If you played safe, no problem. With a wedge in
hand to the elevated putting surface, you should be able to get it close. The
green is deep and runs hard from back to front, maybe the slickest on the
course, so try and stay below the hole.
If someone decided to change the rules and place hole handicaps in order of
difficulty, then the back nine at Galloway National would hold all the cards.
The closing holes are over 500 yards longer than the opening nine, not to
mention many more hazards and plenty of elevation changes.
It starts with the robust, par-four 10th. At 475 yards, this gem plays
straight uphill from tee to green. In fact, you'll need 230 yards just to
reach the fairway from the back tee. Tall trees and thick fescue protect both
sides of the landing area, so pinpoint accuracy and length is needed. The
cavernous bunker down the right is reachable and a double-bogey waiting to
happen, so avoid. A long iron or rescue club will be required to reach one of
the longest and undulating greens on the course. Most approaches feed toward
the center of the putting surface and a back flag can add 20-30 yards, so plan
accordingly. The bottom line, "lock and load."
Fazio really challenges the player on the 11th, a wonderful par five of just
501 yards. A very reachable hole that must be navigated carefully with trees,
sand and fescue down the left and right, a center-cut tee shot is needed. At
the 300-yard mark a 50-yard bunker lurks down the right, so avoid at all
costs. After a successful tee shot, the fun really begins, as you need to make
a choice, go for the green or lay up. The safe play is out to the right with
an iron, which will leave around 100 yards in. The aggressive line is taking
dead aim at the smallish green. The trick is clearing the body of water that
fronts the tiered putting surface. The front of the green sits like a bowl,
however with the pin on the back shelf, it will be hard to hold the green. Go
With a new tee, the 12th has been lengthened to 400 yards, but it still ranks
as the shortest par four on the back nine. Doglegging hard to the left, your
tee ball needs to avoid the trees, sand and fescue down the right and the
humungous bunker left. Your approach will be uphill to one of the most
severely sloped greens on the course and it's just 28 paces deep. A pot bunker
fronts the right to left sloping putting surface. Trust me, the slope is real,
play out towards the right.
From one of the easiest holes to the hardest and most challenging at Galloway
National. The 13th can be construed as unlucky, but I believe its just tough.
It features the tightest fairway, a maze-like bunker complex on the right,
thick stands of trees on both sides and a difficult to read putting surface.
Put that altogether and you have a big number in the making. Don't get me
wrong, I like the hole, I just wished I'd stop making double-bogey every time
I play it.
The first par three on the back side is the 14th, a simplistic, but difficult
219-yarder. Playing slightly less than the yardage indicates, the green is
what stands this hole apart. A ridge that runs from left to right, separates
one of the longest putting surfaces into two sections. The front portion of
the green runs towards the front, while the rear portion runs away. This makes
it very difficult to get the ball close on your approach. There is plenty of
room to the left to bail, since the right side is a desert nightmare.
Uphill from tee to green, the 15th is a straightaway, par four reaching 432
yards. The bigger hitters will have to lay back off the tee, as the fairway
runs out at the 290-yard mark. Personally, I have no problem hitting driver on
every hole at Galloway, except the par threes. Anyway, back to business. Your
second shot, which will require an extra stick, must carry the Pine Valley
like bunker situated in the middle of the fairway to another tricky green.
Just 32 paces from front to back, the putting surface features a ridge on the
right side that seems to repel balls away to the left. If you thought the
ninth green was slick, try leaving your putt short up the hill. Ouch!
Probably the most challenging par five on the course, the 16th is one of the
many signature holes at Galloway National. From the back tee, it's just 532
yards, but with a lake to the left and forest to the right, well, you get the
message. The fairway is quite generous, but the water is just a few yards
away, keeping you honest. Your second can get home, but with the elevated
surface, you're better off laying up. Sand runs down the left side from the
150-yard mark to the green, so avoid the fluffy stuff and you're almost there.
The green is quite wide, but very shallow, making your approach much more
difficult. With that in mind, the green runs hard from back to front, so you
better be spot on. One of these days I'll figure it out.
Remember that comment earlier about hitting driver on every hole except the
par threes? Well if the wind is blowing, you'll need the big stick on 17. At
249 yards, it's the longest par three by far at the Jersey shore. Sandy waste
areas lay in waiting down the right, thus setting up for a draw towards the
very long and large putting surface. The green slopes from back to front and
can be very quick, especially when the wind blows off the bay. Miss right and
you'll find a large chipping area, which will give you the best chance at
getting up and down, because left is no winning hand, even with the AC Casinos
in the background.
Originally a 442-yard par four, the 18th hole has been extended to reach 486
yards. Take full stock of the beautiful views of Atlantic City before you tee
off, because you'll need every bit of concentration and ability to master this
closing beauty. Doglegging hard to the right, your tee shot must avoid the
sand, trees and marsh to the right. Playing slightly uphill adds another 10
yards or so try not to cut too much off the corner. Your approach shot is
quite deceiving, as a cross bunker partially hides the front portion of the
green, leaving an illusion of closeness. It's not. The kidney-shaped putting
surface runs uphill to the rear and is surrounded by a sandy moat. Other than
that, piece of cake. I'm exhausted!
FINAL WORD: Oh my! I could leave it at that, but that would be an injustice.
For years, Atlantic City Country Club was the staple of golf at the Jersey
shore. A venerable layout originally designed in 1897, AC has nonetheless been
supplanted by Galloway National.
To rank in the top-100 of the greatest courses this country has to offer, the
venue must score high in many categories. Galloway National certainly makes
the grade in every way. From resistance to scoring (just ask the college
players from the 2009 Regional Championship), to the aesthetics and
conditioning of the course and the wonderful design, Galloway is in a class by
"There's a premium on shot and distance control," added Killian. "Being able
to control your middle irons, short irons, or a putt or pitch because of the
green complexes. The defense of the greens is the undulations and contours."
The course is not for the faint of heart. Stretching over 7,000 yards with a
par of 71, a slope of 146 and a rating of 74.5, Galloway National is one of
the most difficult courses on the east coast.
Fazio is very hands-on with Galloway National, tinkering here and there,
especially when it comes to the trees. According to Killian, "Tom stood on the
first tee and looked down the fairway and there was a tree in the way down the
right and you could hardly see the bunker on the right hand side. He turned to
Vernon and said, you know Vernon, before we built this property it was all
trees, you've got to keep taking trees out or it will overgrow the golf
"With taking out the trees on one, it was unbelievable what it did to open up
the view of the first fairway bunker complex and with more sunlight to the
right side of the tee. He is always doing things like that, which is terrific.
He is as good as there is."
Most holes feature three to four teeing areas, however the scorecard only
shows yardage from the blue markers (6,476 yards) or the gold buttons (7,022
yards). Don't be a hero, pick the right tees.
"You get a lot of shots that you hit the right distance, but if you just miss
four feet to the right or left, it's no good," continued Killian. "Number two
is a classic example. It's just a pitching wedge par 3, generally downwind,
but if you hit 15 feet left of where you are supposed to be, you end up down
in the collection area, so it's really about controlling your distance, which
is wonderful in this day and age when everybody is killing it off the tee and
they can't control their shots. It really penalizes poor distance shots and
penalizes wayward tee shots."
The fairways at times are generous, however don't be lulled into a false sense
of security, as the trees, fescue and rough will collect any offline shot.
"The average fairway is 45-50 yards wide. I think the 18th fairway is 55 yards
wide, but if you miscue with your approach, you're in trouble. The short
holes, however, have very demanding greens, like 2 and 3. It's one of those
great courses that does that."
The green complexes are quite unique and range from as little as 23 paces to
41 yards. "There is a lot of movement on the greens," added Killian.
The diverse northeastern seaboard membership certainly could be attributed to
the proximity of New York, as its location is within a couple of hours, but
60-percent of the membership comes from the Philadelphia region and 20-percent
from north Jersey and the Empire state.
The real attraction however, has to be the world-class practice facility, the
four-star dining experience, a well-stocked golf shop, the staff that will
bend over backwards to service your needs and of course, one of the top three
layouts in the state of New Jersey, behind only Pine Valley and Baltusrol.
"I think it's every bit the championship golf course and a magnificent match-
play venue, and could host a Mid-Amateur tomorrow or a Senior Amateur because
it's the right time of year and it's a great match-play golf course,"
Another bonus is the fact you never have to wait for a tee time. "A typical
day at Galloway National is nice and quiet," added Killian. "The highest we've
ever done is 10,000 rounds. Sometimes we're lucky to see 15 people during the
day in the shorter months, but we're very busy on Fridays during the summer-
"Mr. Hill wanted all the tee complexes to be elevated and that's one of the
many things about Galloway that's so entertaining, there are no blind shots,"
said Killian. Everything is right in front of you from tee to green.
Galloway National is a golfer's paradise. Golf at its best. A modern-day