Phoenix’s Southern Dunes is a Must Play

Ak Chin Southern Dunes Arizona Golf
Arizona’s Ak-Chin Southern Dunes Golf Club

It’s for good reason — there are several, actually — that both Golfweek and Golf magazines rank Ak-Chin Southern Dunes Golf Club among the top daily-fee courses in Arizona.

Brilliantly routed amongst 320 acres of desert scrub about 40 minutes south of downtown Phoenix, the 7,546-yard track is the head-turning progeny of architects Lee Schmidt and Brian Curley, who collaborated with Fred Couples to craft an upscale challenge that is a near dead-ringer for some Australian sandhill courses designed more than a century earlier by Alister MacKenzie.

Ragged white-sand bunkering, wild-growth waste areas, tall native grasses and rugged, unbridled landforms pay a vivid tribute to legendary links-land challenges like MacKenzie’s own Royal Adelaide and Royal Melbourne.

Utterly transcending, Southern Dunes is also hypnotically beautiful and generously playable, a pure golf experience made even more of a must play thanks to the immaculate maintenance, conditioning and customer service directives of Troon Golf, the international course management group headquartered in nearby Scottsdale.

Phoenix Zoo Lights
The Phoenix Zoo lights up the holiday season

Post round, double your pleasure at the Arroyo Grille, recognized for its scrumptious 19th-hole libations, casual dining and sweeping sunset views of the Estrella Mountains. In fact, the spacious setting offers distinctive indoor and outdoor spaces ideal for intimate weddings, events and meetings.

Golfers quickly discover that the nearby Harrah’s Ak-Chin Casino is a joyous diversion unto itself. Offerings include 300 luxuriously appointed guestrooms, Vegas-style gaming, five restaurants, pool, boutique shopping, live headline musical performances and an expansive entertainment complex with first-run movies, bowling, laser tag, dining, arcade and more.

Las Noches de las Luminarias starts at the Desert Botanical Garden on November 25.

For off site golf alternatives, consider playing nearby Ocotillo Golf Resort, Whirlwind at Wild Horse Pass and Arizona Grand Golf Course. Other outdoor alternatives include touring the Phoenix Zoo (holiday Zoolights starts Nov. 23), hiking the mysterious Superstition Mountains and exploring the Desert Botanical Garden (Las Noches de las Luminarias starts Nov. 25).


Insider’s tip: Book a stay and play package with Ak-Chin Southern Dunes and you might win tickets to attend the PGA Tour’s 2017 Waste Management Phoenix Open (Jan. 30-Feb. 5, 2017). Packages start at $109; restrictions apply. Mention Colorado AvidGolfer when booking online at  


For more about the splendors of metro Phoenix, go online to

More Photos:


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Chris Duthie is a Durango-based contributor to Colorado AvidGolfer. Colorado AvidGolfer is the state’s leading resource for golf and the lifestyle that surrounds it, publishing eight issues annually and proudly delivering daily content via Follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.