Ak-Chin Southern Dunes, Maricopa. Brian Curley and Lee Schmidt with Fred Couples, 2002.
This was built as a private men’s club, but that went under and the course is now owned by a local casino and open to the public. That makes this the rare modern, public access course that’s all about golf and completely walkable. This is a windy site but the course plays well with it—only two holes have water and the “desert” areas are generally just wispy high grass where you have a good chance of finding your ball.
The major features on the course are the bunkers—big, flashy, and all over the place (I counted 102!). The fairways are wide enough to play in the wind or to have some comfort on a conservative line, but being aggressive means flirting with trouble.
The 16th is a great, snaking par 5. The drive is downhill to a fairway that twists left past a nest of bunkers. A safe drive to the corner sets up a lay up to the next corner, where the fairway snakes back to the right, to a narrow green set between a dune left and a long bunker on the right. But the tee shot tempts you to carry the bunkers at the corner. And if you succeed then you may be able to carry the bunker on a line to the green and reach in two. It’s very treacherous, though you probably won’t lose your ball.
It’s a flat part of the desert but they moved enough earth here that the holes go up and down and some of the best holes do this to great effect with big swales and humps affecting play, as at the 9th, 12th, 14th, and 15th.
It’s a lengthy drive from anywhere in Phoenix, but this one is worth it.
Arizona 1st Decile