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.
In 2010, the Ak-Chin Community purchased the facility after it had been developed as a private club. Four years later, the original architectural team was called in to renovate the layout, including the refurbishment of bunkers, the addition of tee boxes and expansion of fairways.
The 17th hole was also completely redesigned, which involved the reshaping of a large mound to open up sight lines, the re-sizing of greenside bunkers, and the expansion of the putting surface.
"A good course to seek out in the area, worthy of a full day out:"
After years of playing golf in PHX and having heard good things, we finally decided to venture into the SE to play Southern Dunes. The drive is long enough to have thoughts of "This better be good". It was.
Freddie Couples created a course with wide fairways, cool bunkering and difficult greens. I would also describe Southern Dunes as a well balanced golf course where I didn't feel like there was a hole that was only there to get you from Hole A to Hole B.
While I hate reviews focused on how somebody played... For a guy struggling with his tee game and keeping it together with wedges and a putter... I couldn't get up and down to save my scorecard (15 bogeys, no pars). I feel that it is more commentary on the design of the green complexes than how I played.
For someone that stays Old Town Scottsdale - North PHX this course is a drive, but like Gold Canyon, it is worth it for a round or two per year.
We had a lot of fun.
Mr Ward's review is spot on. I really enjoyed this course and would pay to play it again.
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