Ak-Chin Southern Dunes Review

Maricopa, AZ

#5 Best Course You Can Play in Arizona
#84 Best Course You Can Play in the United States

Situated in Maricopa County, south west of Phoenix, in the Ak-Chin Indian Community, Southern Dunes is a modern golfing gem. Given the bland canvas of the surrounding desert lowlands, architects Schmidt-Curley Design, Inc., with the help of golf legend Fred Couples have created an imaginative, strategic layout that everyone can enjoy.


Our first impressions were of a golf facility where service and attention to detail were front and centre. From the well stocked golf shop, welcoming grill and top class practice facilities, it was clear that this was to be no ordinary golfing experience.

A key feature of the practice facilities is a complete greens complex, situated behind the practice range, allowing golfers to practice shots they will face out on the course. A simple thing, but not something you commonly see.

Southern Dunes practice area
The excellent practice facilities at Southern Dunes
Playing The Course

From the tips, it is an absolute monster at 7,546 yards and a course rating of 76.4 against a par of 72. But don’t worry, there are 6 sets of tees in all and, the forward mens tees are just 5,981 yards with a course rating of 68.2 so the course caters for golfers of all abilities.

The ladies tees are 5,055 yards with a course rating of 71.7, representing a proper test of golf without being too difficult.

For the full scorecard see here.

It’s when you start playing the course that the genius of the design hits you. If you have not picked the correct set of tees to play off, you are going to encounter problems. Too long and you will be laying well back, not able to cut the corner off the tee. Too short and you can find yourself running out of fairway and ending in the desert scrub.

Southern Dunes fairway
Can you carry the bunkers? Will you hit the coyote?

Most holes feature some sort of subtle dogleg where deciding how much of the corner you can take on is key to playing well. So do take time to make sure you choose the right tees when you play.

When we played last December, the course was in immaculate condition, the greens were fast and true and decidedly tricky, with many featuring significant slopes, so putting it on the right part of the green, preferably under the hole is imperative if you are going to score well.

Southern Dunes green
One of the many complex greens layouts at Southern Dunes

The greens are also well guarded by bunkers so best play from the fairway if you want to give yourself a chance!

Southern Dunes Golf Club
Strategic bunkering can make your approach shots a challenge

It is a traditional layout with 2 par 3s and 2 par 5s in each nine and there is a lot of variety. The yardages vary significantly on the par 3s and there is a good mix of short and long par 4s. The par 5s are all pretty long off the tips but are much more playable from the forward tees.


Southern Dunes is situated in the heart of the Ak-Chin Indian community, just southwest of Phoenix. It is around 50 minutes from our most popular accommodation, Hyatt House, in Scottsdale Old Town, whilst our furthest featured resort from the course is Boulders which is 1 hour 10 minutes away.

It’s location, on the wrong side of Phoenix, makes it something of a hidden gem, yet it also serves to keep the rates down, making for a very affordable days golf.


An integral part of any golf club is it’s dining facilities and The Arroyo Grille at Southern Dunes offers breakfast, lunch and even dinner most nights. Many golf club grills in America stop serving food around 3 pm but the Arroyo Grille is an exception, as long as you avoid Mondays!

We enjoyed a very nice lunch there after we played in December but don’t take our word for it, take a look at the menus and see what’s on offer. Their web site shows hours of operation, weekly specials and a full run down of the menus.

Overall impression

First class golf facility, great course which offers plenty of fun and challenge for golfers of all abilities and backed up by friendly and attentive service. The low rates make it fantastic value.

Highly recommended.

Ak-Chin Southern Dunes

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