Just like the Greater Phoenix resorts that offer budget-friendly specials throughout the summer, so do the best courses in this golf mecca. Bring some sunblock and plenty of water and tee it up at premiere courses that cost a fraction of their peak-season rates. We’ll highlight some of these courses and deals throughout the summer on The Hot Sheet.

There are many great summer specials available at Greater Phoenix golf courses, and I just came across one of the very best last weekend at Ak-Chin Southern Dunes Golf Club.

Southern Dunes has been near the top of my must-play list since 2008 when the formerly private mens-only club went public. With their Dynamic Pricing booking system, greens fees are always adjusting based on availability, when you book and for what day. We saw we could get a 6 a.m. tee time for only $33 on a Sunday morning and we jumped on it. Not a bad price for a course that is ranked 87th on Golfweek’s “Top 100 Courses You Can Play”.

First hole, Southern Dunes

The first tee shot of the day at Southern Dunes

Now you might think it was only $33 because no one wants to play in the June heat in Phoenix? Or maybe it was cheap but we wouldn’t get the full high-end experience that golfers do in season when rates are at their peak? The course conditions wouldn’t be that good because it’s summer? I’m happy to say none of that was true.

It was a cool 72 degrees when we teed off and in the mid 90s when we wrapped up on 18. Unlimited practice balls were included with our greens fees and we were kept cool by the complimentary bottles of cold water available every few holes; something I don’t recall seeing at a public course and certainly not one charging $33. The iPad-like GPS system on the carts is the best I’ve ever used. And the course was in excellent shape, as good as many courses are in season. The greens were still a bit bumpy due to being aerified a few weeks prior, but most every course in town does that this time of year.

The layout itself is magnificent and worthy of the accolades it receives. It’s in a secluded area near the town of Maricopa, about 40 minutes south of downtown Phoenix. With its rolling terrain, mature trees, tall native grasses, and numerous sand bunkers, you’ll feel as if you’d left the desert for the plains if not for the nearby rugged mountains.

Southern Dunes, Hole six

This birdie putt was not made.

The course, co-designed by World Golf Hall of Fame member Fred Couples, offers different options on how to play most holes and there are risk-reward options in many spots. The key at Southern Dunes is to stay out of the sand and native grass because they are everywhere. The course does offer generous landing zones and bail-out areas, so look for those spots before each shot. Avoid the trouble and a good round can be had here. Find the sand and tall grass a few too many times and scores can escalate quickly. I’m happy to say I found the sand only twice!

Southern Dunes, 4th hole

The par-3 4th hole shows off the sand and native grass Southern Dunes is known for.

I look forward to returning to Southern Dunes. It lived up to expectations and it’s a steal for the prices they are currently charging. A course with this much character needs to be played a number of times and a number of ways to fully experience it.

48456 West Highway 238
Maricopa, AZ 85139

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