Novices beware... Shoot, all golfers, beware. Ak-Chin Southern Dunes is by far the best course I've ever played at, but it's challenges are plentiful. Some of my highlights from the day include a couple of pars on the back 9 and a cheer-worthy birdie on the second par-5 of the front. I can't say I played my best, but I shot a 104 and I'm flipping proud of it! Here are some things you should know before heading out to Southern Dunes in Maricopa, Arizona.
This golf course made Golf Magazine's list of Top 100 Course to Play in the United States last year at #84, as well as #5 on the list of Top Courses you can play in Arizona. It is managed by Troon and was designed with the help of Fred Couples. It takes up about 320 acres on the Ak Chin Indian Reservation located about an hour south of Phoenix. Yes, it's worth the trek.
Not only is it's beauty clear as you arrive to the middle of nowhere land and drive through the "Augusta wannabe"-type tree tunnel, but also you'll feel as though you just entered into a quaint forest lodge. As you approach, you can tell it's just a golfers paradise. Everyone around you is serious about the game and however hot it is, no one is stopping them.
It's always fantastic when you can check-in and feel welcomed by the starter and the staff. My day there was filled with friendly service and professionalism. I loved every second of speaking with the starter, who in the few minutes to kill before teeing off on the first hole, was sure to give us a few facts about the beautiful course we'd have a pleasure of playing that day.
Everything about the knowledge of the staff and the way they managed the facility truly made it feel like a top golf experience. The starter knew exactly what was happening at all times and kept pace of play right on target. It was almost like watching a brilliant piece of artwork being created in front of you. Hats off to the team!
As far as the conditions go, you can't really ask for anything better at the start of the Arizona summer. The greens were fast and felt as professional as they could be. The fairways were nearly perfect, except of course for all of those darn fairway bunkers. The only thing I would say that was really concerning was the warning about the snakes. Keep in mind, you're in the middle of a desert and wildlife is everywhere.
Now, let's talk bunkers. There are more than 100 bunkers and I probably hit 50% of them. Yup. It was that kind of day. But, it's also pretty challenging not to hit them. It wasn't uncommon to see someone hit out of the sand and land in another trap. It's utter madness out there when it comes to playing around the greens too.
My birdie on #7 was probably the BEST moment of my day. It proved to me that I could manage the course well, but also that I wasn't a complete loss. Trust me, at some points, I felt like a complete loss. Between the tees being almost perpendicular to the fairways and the advanced
All in all, this course will challenge you, but if you want to get better at anything, you must challenge yourself. There are six tees to choose from, so whether you want to play 5,000 or 7,500, there are plenty of options for every skill level. I'll be back this summer for sure!
Side note: This golf course also offers a mini course, affectionately named #MiniDunes. It seems like a lot of fun and if you're looking to spend an entire day out in Maricopa to get a full experience, then you absolutely must take advantage of it. I look forward to playing 18 one morning and then capping off the afternoon with #MiniDunes.
This blog was not sponsored and is the complete opinion of the Golfer Babe.