Southern Dunes – Arizona Golf Courses
Fred Couples is the architect of record at Southern Dunes, a former all-men’s club near the small farming community of Maricopa, even if most of the work was done by local architects Brian Curley and Lee Schmidt, a super-solid tandem that hails from Scottsdale. Couples has collaborated with Schmidt-Curley on six golf courses around the country and Arizona’s Southern Dunes Golf Club is the most recent, as well as the best of the lot.
Located southwest of Phoenix off Interstate 10, Southern Dunes is a top-notch championship golf course ranging from 6,000 yards to a whopping 7,517 yards, although a set of forward tees at 5,102 yards is now in place. The original concept of a private, men’s club has been retired and Southern Dunes now welcomes public play, after being purchased by the Ak-Chin Native American Tribe, which also owns the Harrah’s Casino just a few miles down the road.
Managed by Troon Golf, which does not oversee “average’’ golf courses, Southern Dunes is fun, fair, fast and furious. If you think you can play a bit and wish to test your metal, Southern Dunes is a great venue – tee it up from the tips and you’ll learn quite quickly if and where you stand in the elite players gang.
The fairways are wide and rolling and meander between the namesake dunes, while the greens are big and subtle with lots of bunkering. If you choose to play it back, you definitely need length off the tee, but precise approach shots to the elegant green complexes at Southern Dunes are a test everyone can enjoy.
The round begins with a sweeping, left-to-right uphill par-4 and never lets up, especially as it makes the turn. Be prepared: the 10th, 11th and 12th holes are a par 4-3-4 back side opening, jab-jab-right cross knockout punch that finds many players picking themselves up off their own backside as well.
You’ve been warned to be prepared and it’s easy to do your homework before you play; here’s your tutorial – the Video Course Fly-over of each hole at Southern Dunes.
Some feel the 18th, a scenic uphill par-4 to a water-guarded green is the coup de grace, but the truth is Southern Dunes starts with a bang and the fireworks never stop, which is why national publications rank it near the top of their lists of best public golf courses in Arizona – now that it’s open to general public play, that is.
The 8,000 s.f. clubhouse is rustic cowboy-cool, with a genuine a ranch house vibe, and together with the full-service Grille 109 is great spot to relax after the round. If you’re going to try the grub, have them rustle you up the pulled pork sandwich and a draft or two.
AZGA Arizona Golf Authority “Local Hang” for Southern Dunes Golf Club includes the Club’s Grille 109 and, if you want a little “action” along with your libation, visit the Ak-Chin tribe’s Harrah’s Ak-Chin Casino just down the road from the golf course.