Ak-Chin Southern Dunes Golf Club occupies 320 acres of the Ak-Chin Indian Community’s property in Maricopa. Designed by Fred Couples and the Schmidt-Curley partnership, the layout has hosted Arizona State Amateur Championships and is a US Open qualifying venue.
Many people take the predictable trek when landing at Sky Harbor and then head north to the Scottsdale area for golf. I recommend upon landing you head south for just over 30 miles and sample what's available here.
Former PGA Tour star Fred Couples is mentioned as being part of the design effort but as with most situation of this type it's the actual architects -- Lee Schmidt and Brian Curley who deserve the lion's share of credit for the layout which opened in 2002 originally as a private club and is now operated by a Native-American nation and has a casino and lodging connection.
The course is blessed to have 320 acres and there's no intrusions so you can enjoy the golf without worrying about pesky neighbors or children wandering about the course as if it's some sort of playground.
The aspect that makes the layout so appealing is the wide variety of holes encountered. There's also a good bit of fairway shaping so being able to work the ball when called upon is a skillset you'll need to max out your score in a positive manner. Being able to provide change of pace is a big time asset here because golfers will need to adapt as called upon throughout the round.
I've been fortunate to have played a number of the Schmidt-Curley layouts and to their credit you don't see the formulaic or predictable repeat efforts. The duo excel in bunker creation and placement. There is definitely a clear sense in what you need to do when stepping on any of the tees. There are bold lines of attack to contemplate but do so with execution to back it up. Options lie at the core of the design and one has to assess with prudence your skill level. The hallmark of any superior design rests on providing clear rewards and certain penalties for poor execution. There are no tricks here -- just solid golf required.
My last visit was this past winter and the overall turf quality was very good. For those who want to be tested you'll find the back tees have plenty of teeth. Trust me -- the layout will not suffer fools who attempt such nonsense unless one truly has a low single digit handicap.
Location likely has plenty to do with why the course does not get more attention given the sheer array of golf options throughout the immediate area.
If you think you've got game -- head here -- it's the one sure bet you'll make on property.
M. James Ward