“On seeing the property I had a feeling that Galloway National might be a sensational golf course,” said the architect, Tom Fazio. How right he was, Galloway National Golf Club is routed through a glorious, gently undulating 200-acre parcel of land which affords stunning views of Reeds Bay and the Atlantic City skyline.
"Galloway is an eye-catching Tom Fazio design built across a series of small wooded sand hills," wrote Tom Doak in The Confidential Guide to Golf Courses Volume 3. "Although its most memorable holes are the par threes that play directly across the marshland and look out to Atlantic City, the heart of this course are the longer holes within the scrubby dunes. Here Fazio set a number of small greens atop dangerous plateaus and strategically used sloping terrain and a number of large sand waste areas to complicate matters for the approaching golfer."Galloway National is a private club, so you’ll have to befriend one of its members to play here but stick with the “six degrees of separation” hypothesis, you may soon bump into one of Galloway National’s lucky members.
I have played over 100 Tom Fazio designs and in that total there are a number that truly do stand apart. How so? The ones at the top of the pecking order are stellar because they do not feature the emphasis found at many Fazio courses on being overly crafted by man's hand. And, as a result, standing apart from the land they should have been more closely connected to.
Dressing up courses has been a Fazio strength almost to a fault. Sometimes, it pays to take a step or two back and allow the land itself to be the star attraction. At Galloway you find that front and center.
Galloway National gets far too little attention -- save for those in the greater Philadelphia area and those in New Jersey. The course is exceptionally routed and the Fazio genius comes from having the course work in concert with the terrain found at the Jersey Shore area.
Things get started in grand fashion with the opening hole. Although not an exact match with the opener at Pine Valley -- the essence of the hole is to test the player but not to so in a brutish manner.
Much is often mentioned about the par-3 holes and they collectively work very well in different directions and mandating a wide selection of club choices.
The aspect that many do not mention is how demanding the recoveries can be for those failing to execute with the approach. At many other Fazio courses the recovery can be fairly straightforward and benign. Not so at Galloway National -- a deft touch is clearly needed.
In order to succeed at Galloway one has to get off to a good start. The outward nine is significantly shorter than the inward side but success can only come with sound placement and a sure putting touch.
Of course, the private nature of the club allowed Fazio to push matters so that top tier shotmaking is a constant item of attention. If Galloway National were public and open to a larger number of players and rounds it's likely tone of the course would have needed to be a bit more softer in terms of intensity.
The ending stretch concludes the round in superior style. The par-5 16th can provide a late round birdie but it's not one freely given without being earned. The long par-3 17th is often photographed with the AC skyline seen across the Bay. And, the concluding hole is a strong test turning right in the drive zone and mandating a stellar approach to a well contoured green.
Galloway National, for whatever the reason, has escaped justifiable acclaim. That's truly befuddling. The detailing is always present but not in the ostentatious manner found at so many Fazio layouts. The natural connection between golf and Mother Nature is proof, in my mind, that when Fazio truly has wanted go beyond the predictable or fanciful he clearly has the wherewithal to do it. The shotmaking is the central point at Galloway -- not the desire to "wow" people with extraneous eye-candy that is more surface than substance.
The only downside about Galloway National is the pesky and incessant nature of the mosquitoes and greenheads at certain times of the year which can make playing nearly impossible. The layout clearly merits a top ten Garden State listing and presents a solid case for even a top five position. Keep in mind, there aren't many sure bets in AC but you can be assured of a guaranteed payout when venturing to Galloway National.
M. James Ward
Very demanding, yet very good course. Always in superb condition. Certain times of years the bugs can be an issue however.
The best Fazio design I've played. Loved the driving range--not many courses have memorable ranges.
The par 3 17th gets attention for its great view of Atlantic City, but I think the par 3 2nd is one of the best Par 3s anywhere. I loved everything about this course.