Gateway Park, Montgomerie, Alabama – Gateway To Golfing Enjoyment.

In working the PGA Tour, we’ve spent many hours driving the Interstates of the U.S.

I could probably mention every bend on the I-95 between West Palm Beach and the Georgia border and I could tell how many ‘bumps’ there are on the I-10 between Jacksonville and Texas.

Of course, I’m exaggerating but you get the idea.

A great thing about driving between Tour stops is the opportunities it presents compared to flying.   I cannot remember the number of occasions we’ve ended-up getting off the highways to visit a golf club.

It’s not just the chance to stretch the legs but I just love being able to y to walk into a pro shop and clubhouse, and wander around admiring the golf-relatated items on display.

Everyone we’ve met, and there’s been no exceptions, has been so friendly and welcoming.  And when you introduce yourself as a journalist working the PGA Tour more often than not the response is:  “Oh, I love your job”.

There’s the opportunity also to tee-up on many of the golf courses we come across and that was just the scenario on 1st April, 2018 as we made our way from the Shell Houston Open and bound for Augusta National.

It’s well over 900 miles from America’s fourth largest city to the front gates of the course that annually hosts the Masters and thankfully there was two of undertaking the driving but in leaving Houston on the Friday of the event, and having picked-up plenty of Augusta preview pieces, there was no super hurry.

Two-thirds of the way along the journey and where the I-65 heading north through Montgomery, Alabama meets the commencement of the I-85 heading east towards Georgia, there’s a 9-hole golf course – the Gateway Park Golf Club.

“Let’s have a look and also grab a coffee”, I said.

Take the right fork – the I-85 – to Atlanta and Gateway Park GC is on your right. (Photo @TourMiss)

Photograph – www.golfbytourmiss.com

 

Gateway Park featured two par-5s, four par- 4s and three par-3s, and is a fun and challenging layout.

Of the back or blue tees, the course plays some  2,931 yards while off the white tees the course plays to 2,745 years, the golf is 2,501 yards while the ladies or red tees you play to 2,232 yards.

In arriving at the Gateway Park, and given our final destination was Augusta  Georgia, it  struck me how much the Gateway Park clubhouse reminded me of the clubhouse at Augusta National … take a look at the photograph and tell me if you agree.

The Augusta National style clubhouse at Gateway Park GC, Montgomerie, AL (Photo – Gateway Park)

Gateway Park GC, Montgomerie, AL (Photo – Gateway Park)

The nine-hole layout begins and ends with a par-5.  The first measuring 457-yards and the last 440-yards.

Gateway Park boasts something that I have not seen before and that each hole is rated easier as your work you way into the round.  I mean that the first hole is rated the #1 index hole, the second #2 index, the third #3 and so onto the ninth that is the #9 indexed hole.

It is a great opening hole, a left sweeping hole with a lake-like feature on the dog-leg that is guarded also by a bunker in front of the water hazard – double trouble for any errant left shot.  There is also a second bunker just left of centre protecting the green and while anything that is long, and I mean really long, will find the I-65 behind the green.

 

The first of the par-3s is at the second measuring 173-yards and with the tee on the opposite side of the first hole water hazard to leave you with a tee shot to clear a portion of the water hazard, and with the green protected by a bunker front right.

There’s six bunkers on the 393-yard par third hole and that’s nearly a third of the 17 bunkers on the course. The third is sweeping left-to-right hole and you will find three bunkers on the rightside of the hole, and at driving distance – one after the other.  There’s a bunker further down the left side to catch anything really long off the tee while the green is guarded by bunkers front left and front right.  A great hole and par a good reward!

The key to the 167-yard par-4 fourth hole is avoiding the bunker that wraps itself around the green in a defence pose from a nine o’clock position to 12 noon.

 

At 422-yards, the fifth is the longest of the par-4s being a pretty straight hole, running as is does along the southern boundary of the course.  The green is guarded by bunkers both right and front left.

 

The 6th hole marker at Gateway GC (Photo – www.golfbytourmiss.com)

The 5th hole at Gateway GC (Photograph – www.golfbytourmiss.com)

From the longest par-4 at five to the shortest at the next – the par-4 sixth hole measuring 280-yards off the tee.  There’s a birdie staring you in the face if you’re straight off the tee and thus taking out of play the water down the right side.  Just one bunker at the sixth and that is back left behind the green.

The par-3 seventh is the only hole on the course without a bunker also no water and no trees.

Eight, a par-4 at 392-yards, is another fine hole at Gateway Park.  The hole dog-legs right and protected on the right by two bunkers shortish right but a larger bunker, and again for the big-hitters like on three, on the leftside of the fairway.  Also, the water hazard that run down the rightside of the sixth comes into play for any wild shots right on this eighth hole. There’s also a large bunker slap bang in front of the eighth green making your second shot choice important.

Ted atop of the 9th hole marker post at the Gateway Golf Club

The 9th hole at Gateway GC – Photograph GolfByTourMiss.com

 

That brings up to the ninth, a par-5 measuing 440-yards.  The tees are slightly off the right and hitting to a hole guarded for the drive with trees down both sides of the hole.  There is a bunker left and one further along on the right. If you’ve safely got yourself through the trees and avoided the bunkers, then there’s a great chance of ending with a birdie.

Gateway Park is a great nine-holer and it’s one of those courses you could play over-and-over again.

It’s a golf course not wanting to hand out punishment but then it is very rewarding for those treating it with proper respect.

 

 

 

 

 

 



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