Reviewed by: UNCLEDDBOY23, Peoria, Arizona
Overview: Ak-Chin Southern Dunes is located in the town of Maricopa, which is a suburb of Phoenix, Arizona. The course was designed by the Schmidt-Curley design team based out of Scottsdale, and they worked with Fred Couples on the design of the course. The course was originally a private men’s club, but that changed a few years ago. The course had a renovation in late 2014/early 2015 by Couples and the Schmidt-Curley design team. Many bunkers were removed in the re-design but there are still plenty of sand traps on the course.
Clubhouse and Practice Facility: Really nice clubhouse that is broken into three separate sections … one part is for the grille, another is for the pro shop and the third section is for meeting space. There is also outdoor seating and a fire pit that overlooks the the 9th and 18th hole. The practice facility is in fantastic shape and doubles as a short part 3 layout. They call it the Mini-Dunes.
Course: Southern Dunes is one of the local qualifying sites for the U.S Open (being held on 5/18), and I wanted to see what the set up would be for the event. Considering that I will never play in a U.S. Open, I thought it would be nice to do almost the next best thing — play a course in U.S. Open qualifying conditions.
May is a tough time of year in Phoenix. You have the rye grass still in place from the winter and you have Bermuda grass that is starting to grow in. In places you could see where there was a battle between what strand of grass was going to win, especially with the change in temperatures this past month. For example, it was only about 58 degrees when I teed off this morning, and that is quite cool for Phoenix this time of year. The course was in great shape on the front nine … fairways were lush and the areas around the greens were in great shape. On the back nine though, the fairways were not as lush and there were some noticeable bare spots. All of the bunkers were hand racked and/or machine racked through the 12th hole, but the maintenance team still needed to finish the last 6 holes.
The greens were running at about a 12 and the superintendent (who I met on the course) wanted to get them up to 12.5 by tomorrow. I have never seen greens rolled before and it was pretty cool to see how they used a machine to roll the greens instead of having to hand roll them. Greens were very smooth (of course) and were in great shape.
I really enjoy the design of the course, but course knowledge is so very important at Southern Dunes. A lot of people feel that there are too many bunkers, but if you play the course a couple of times you will learn how to avoid many of them.
Final Thoughts: Southern Dunes is about about a 40 minute drive from downtown Phoenix, but I feel that it is a must play if you are in the “Valley of the Sun.”