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Ak-Chin Southern Dunes

Photo courtesy Ak-Chin Southern Dunes


Large portions of the golf course are under water, but Ak-Chin Southern Dunes is not completely shut down.

Arroyo Grill and the pro shop are still open with regular business hours, though the course probably won’t see golfers again until November. Blame it on the rain.

“There’s been nothing like this since I’ve been here,” General Manager Brady Wilson said.

Last week’s flooding of Vekol Wash was particularly hard on the Dunes. Wilson said the course received 3.9 inches of rain and then the flash flood waters from the south. It is still too early to assess damage.

The #miniDunes and first fairway were under water. A vast section of desert from hole 13 to hole 16 was full of water. Water was flowing over State Route 238 east and west of the course entrance, and the parking lot was flooded. Wilson was among employees stranded by the water and rescued by Ak-Chin Fire Department personnel.

Besides pumping out water, the restoration of the course will take a lot of hand work, but Wilson expects it to be back on schedule Nov. 3.

“And that’s only because of the commitment from our team,” Wilson said. “They are the most dedicated employees around.”

While there has been a lot of outreach from the community, vendors and friends volunteering to help, Wilson said the best way to help is to support Arroyo Grill.

“They were open for lunch for today. We still have one of the best restaurants in Maricopa,” Wilson said. “The Arroyo Grill is 100 percent operative.”

A wine dinner is scheduled for Oct. 27.

Though the flooding has been called catastrophic, the timing was not terrible. Ak-Chin Southern Dunes had been scheduled to close for overseeding Oct. 14 and reopen Nov. 3. Now, staff will be in a cleanup phase before the overseeding with the expectation of still re-opening Nov. 3.

Though the course is dealing with the biggest water hazards in its history, the greens are in good shape. As for the rest, the staff will have to wait until the water is gone.

The turf is muddy, and Wilson said the irony is there is no way to clean the turf except with more water. The National Weather Service is predicting more rain by Sunday.

“We don’t know at this point how impactful that will be,” Wilson said.

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Photo by Michelle Chance

Competitive long drivers swung into action Friday morning at Ak-Chin’s inaugural Smash in the Sun event on a custom field north of UltraStar Multi-tainment Center. The community partnered with the World Long Drive organization to host the four-day competition – a portion of which will be aired live on the Golf Channel May 15 at 5 p.m. Male and female long drivers on Friday and Saturday compete in the qualifying series for a chance to advance to the 2018 Volvik World Long Drive Championship. See schedule here and here.


Submitted photo

Golf’s longest drivers will compete in Ak-Chin’s first nationally televised sporting event May 15.

What: Ak-Chin Smash in the Sun World Long Drive
When: May 11-12, 14-15
Where: Ak-Chin Circle Field, 16000 N. Maricopa Road
General admission: Free


What: World Long Drive Pro-Am
When: May 15
Where: Ak-Chin Southern Dunes Golf Club, 48456 W. Hwy. 238
General admission: Free

Ak-Chin Smash in the Sun is a three-day World Long Drive tour event May 11-12 and 14-15 at a course grid north of UltraStar Multi-tainment Center at Ak-Chin Circle.

It’s the second stop on the World Long Drive Tour, which began in April with Mesquite, Nevada’s Clash in the Canyon.

The sporting spectacle will feature men’s and women’s qualifying competitions.

The last day of the inaugural competition will be broadcast live on The Golf Channel and feature the final eight competitors, whittled down from a bracket of 32.

Ak-Chin Southern Dunes will also host a Pro-Am event the morning of May 15.

“It’s showcasing Ak-Chin and Maricopa as a destination,” said Brady Wilson, Ak-Chin Southern Dunes general manager.

The grid at Ak-Chin Circle was specially groomed for the event by Southern Dunes staff. Stadium seating will be constructed to hold 500 to 1,000 fans. Food and drink will be available for purchase.

Brady Wilson. Photo by Mason Callejas

The event is free and open to the public. It’s expected to appeal to golfers and non-golfers alike.

“If you’re not a golfer, the fun party atmosphere – along with seeing how far these guys hit the ball – and the national television aspect also makes you want to see it,” Wilson said.

It’s the first time the World Long Drive Association will make a tour stop in Arizona, according to its website. Wilson said it will return next year for the same event.

After Ak-Chin’s Smash in the Sun, the tour makes stops in New Jersey, Tennessee, Canada, the Texas/Oklahoma Border and then back to Tennessee before the Volvik World Long Drive Championship returns to Texoma Aug. 30.

This story appears in the May issue of InMaricopa.

Tanner Hughes is the 2017 winner of the Saguaro Amateur. Submitted photo

Tanner Hughes came from third place to win the Saguaro Amateur at Ak-Chin Southern Dunes Wednesday. Hughes is a sophomore at University of California.

In a field of 112 golfers over three rounds, Hughes shot 9-under to win by a stroke over Zach Smith of California and the two-day leader Daniel Connolly, a San Francisco native who is a freshman at Southern Methodist University.

The winning shot came in dramatic fashion on the 18th hole with Hughes trailing Connolly, his playing partner, by one.

Hughes’ approach shot stopped just nine feet from the hole. Connolly’s back-nine struggles continued, and he bogeyed the hole. Hughes rolled in his final putt for the two-stroke reversal that gave him the trophy.

Last year’s winner, Wes Artac, finished sixth.

The round of the tournament came from Zachary Burry, an Illinois State junior, who shot a 65 on the 72-par course Wednesday to move from 4-over to 3-under and a tie for 11th.

Ak-Chin Southern Dunes has hosted the Saguaro Amateur since 2014. The event is also sponsored by Troon Golf and Marriott Fashion Center in Chandler.

Top 5
1. Tanner Hughes 69-70-69—207
T2. Zach Smith 70-70-68—208
T2. Daniel Connolly 66-69-73—208
T4. Branson Davis 70-71-68—209
T4. Spencer Painton 70-67-72—209

Wes Artac won the 2016 Saguaro Amateur at Ak-Chin Southern Dunes on Wednesday.

Wes Artac of Kingwood, Texas, and Nick Hardy of Northbrook, Illinois, battled back and forth Wednesday, with Artac’s birdie on 18 being the difference in winning the 2016 Saguaro Amateur.

It was Artac’s first tournament since early September.

“It was fun,” Artac said. “I dislocated my shoulder in the fall and so this was my first tournament in four-five months so it was a really good feeling to come out here and play well right off the bat. After the first day I realized I was all right and just played hard.”

He said the pressure didn’t affect him until they started down the back nine.

“I look at is as a regular tournament until the last nine holes and I knew Nick and I were tied,” Artac said. “He is a very, very, good player. Nine, 10, 11 – that was when everything kicked in and the nerves and pressure started. Golf is great.”

His 71 for the day put him 9 under par for the tournament. Hardy was 8 under.

Hardy had played an error-free second round to get close to Artac, who took over the lead Tuesday. Hardy struggled on the final nine holes to come up short. Taylor Moore, who won the first Saguaro Amateur in 2014, was tied for eighth after the second round and shot a 69 to finish third, four shots back. See final Leaderboard below.

The sun came out on Day 3 for the first time since the practice round. The high was in the low 60s with wind, particularly cold in the morning, was out of the south at 10-15 mph most of the day.

ROUND AVERAGE: Ak-Chin Southern Dunes played to an average of 75.8 during the final round. There was an overall field average of 75.5 over the course of the tournament.

PAST CHAMPIONS: Artac beat past champions Taylor Moore (2014) and Sean Walsh (2015). It is likely the last time every champion of the Saguaro Amateur will play in the same field as Moore (Arkansas) and Walsh (Gonzaga) are seniors in college.

2017 DATES: The 2017 Saguaro Amateur will be back at Ak-Chin Southern Dunes January 1-4. The Saguaro Team will take place immediately before December 28-30. Also look for the debut of a Women’s Saguaro Amateur.

Wes Artac, Kingwood, Texas – 68-68-71–207
Nick Hardy, Northbrook, Ill. – 73-65-70–208
Taylor Moore, Edmond, Okla. – 71-71-69–211
Hayden Wood, Edmond, Okla. – 71-71-70–212
Turner Maclean, Fort Worth, Texas – 68-73-71–212
Jimmy Makloski, Pueblo, Colo. – 69-73-71–213
Nick Heinen, Edmond, Okla. – 71-70-72–213
Ryan Gaske, Spokane, Wash. – 73-69-71–213
Blake Cannon, Scottsdale, Ariz. – 73-71-69–213
Alec Heinen, Edmond, Okla. – 71-66-77–214
Kyler Dunkle, Larkspur, Colo. – 74-71-69–214
Ryan Roodzant, Bakersfield, Calif. – 66-76-74–216
Sean Carlon, Albuquerque, N.M. – 74-71-71–216
Nahum Mendoza III, Chula Vista, Calif. – 76-70-71–217
Josh McCollum, Alta Loma, Calif. – 71-72-74–217
Carter Thompson – 69-74-74–217
Zachary Bauchou, Forest, Va. – 74-70-73–217
Jose Pelayo, Temecula, Calif. – 71-73-73–217
Miguel Delgado, Novato, Calif. – 73-75-69–217
Ben Doyle, La Jolla, Calif. – 74-74-70–218
Blake Abercrombie, Rocklin, Calif. – 72-71-75–218
Patrick Cover, Huntersville, N.C. – 71-72-75–218
Ryan Benton, Dothan, Ala. – 72-73-73–218
Matt Wilson, Cypress, Calif. – 74-69-75–218
Daniel Wetterich, Cincinnati, Ohio – 70-71-78–219
Tom Vining, Sioux Falls, S.D. – 77-72-70–219
Kyle Kochevar, Glen Ellyn, Ill. – 74-71-74–219
Matt Lee, Cave Creek, Ariz. – 69-72-78–219
Sean Walsh, Keller, Texas – 73-74-73–220
Jacob Bishop, Edmond, Okla. – 74-76-70–220
Noah Edmondson, Davidson, N.C. – 72-70-78–220
Joo-Young Lee, Hilliard, Ohio – 70-73-77–220
Alec Bone, Phoenix, Ariz. – 77-73-71–221
Davis Jensen, Loudonville, N.Y. – 78-72-72–222
Derek Bayley, Rathdrum, Idaho – 71-74-77–222
Brandon Carlson, Gilbert, Ariz. – 78-72-73–223
George Markham, Phoenix, Ariz. – 78-73-72–223
Behrod Keshtavar, Erie, Colo. – 77-75-71–223
John Clare, Camillus, N.Y. – 74-71-78–223
Tyler Young, Kennesaw, Ga. – 72-70-81–223
Sean Kato, Greeley, Colo. – 75-74-74–223
Michael Christifulli, Paradise Valley, Ariz. – 69-77-78–224
Drew McCullough, Richland, Wash. – 73-75-76–224
Ben Tolsma, Albuquerque, N.M. – 78-71-75–224
Ryan Schmitz, Greenwood Village, Colo. – 75-70-79–224
Pierce Aichinger, Englewood, Colo. – 73-75-76–224
Wilson Belk, Colorado Springs, Colo. – 77-71-76–224
Connor Klein, Lone Tree, Colo. – 69-76-79–224
Kade Brown, Oberlin, Kan. – 75-72-77–224
Bobby Gojuangco, San Diego, Calif. – 74-79-72–225
Sam Stilwell, Sterling, Va. – 82-71-72–225
Jack Ireland, Mission Viejo, Calif. – 78-71-76–225
Dale Smith, Coronado, Calif. – 74-76-75–225
Hayden Springer, Trophy Club, Texas – 80-69-76–225
Arron Lickteig, Marion, S.D. – 77-73-76–226
Chris Karlovich, Broken Arrow, Okla. – 76-75-75–226
Michael Decker, Pebble Beach, Calif. – 80-74-72–226
Steven Kupcho, Westminster, Colo. – 79-71-76–226
Sam Geise, Springboro, Ohio – 77-77-73–227
Blake Young, Trinidad, Colo. – 79-73-75–227
Patrick Bailey, Houston, Texas – 72-74-81–227
Max Donohue, Sioux Falls, S.D. – 76-75-76–227
Ethan Freeman, Denver, Colo. – 79-74-74–227
Colton Yates, Scottsdale, Ariz. – 75-72-80–227
Sam Engel, Scottsdale, Ariz. – 77-78-73–228
Marty Sanchez, Santa Fe, N.M. – 78-77-73–228
Glenn Workman, Pueblo West, Colo. – 72-76-80–228
Matt Echelmeier, Columbia, Mo. – 75-75-78–228
Otto Vanhatalo, San Diego, Calif. – 78-76-74–228
Gage Ihrig, Goodland, Kan. – 76-74-78–228
Conrad Smith II, Anthem, Ariz. – 76-76-77–229
Christopher Tuulik, San Diego, Calif. – 78-75-76–229
Quintin Pope, Cheyenne, Wyo. – 79-75-75–229
Austin Stadeli, Scottsdale, Ariz. – 74-75-81–230
Ryan Pelletier, Mansfield, Mass. – 77-76-77–230
Tait Darby, Olive Branch, Miss. – 74-80-76–230
Nathaniel Goddard, Fort Collins, Colo. – 74-79-78–231
Domenick Postorino, Scottsdale, Ariz. – 76-73-82–231
Daniel Starzinski, Phoenix, Ariz. – 79-69-83–231
Keegan Brasch, Sherwood, Ore. – 80-76-76–232
Ben Dubois, Renton, Wash. – 82-74-77–233
Andrew Garner, Paradise Valley, Ariz. – 76-81-76–233
Logan Gardner, Phoenix, Ariz. – 77-74-82–233
Conrad Walcher, Oklahoma City, Okla. – 81-79-73–233
Justin Chong, Granada Hills, Calif. – 82-75-76–233
Brett Johnson, Vancouver, Wash. – 84-76-74–234
Ross Macdonald, Castle Rock, Colo. – 74-80-80–234
Joe Baldeck, Clarkston, Wash. – 82-76-76–234
Ethan Smith, Oklahoma City, Okla. – 83-74-77–234
Stephen Griggs, Carmichael, Calif. – 81-81-74–236
Matthew Wetterich, Cincinnati, Ohio – 78-80-79–237
James Russo, Scottsdale, Ariz. – 80-77-80–237
Jackson Whisenhunt, Phoenix, Ariz. – 81-77-79–237
Millan Batra, Eagle, Idaho – 79-77-81–237
Andrew Romano, Lone Tree, Colo. – 78-77-83–238
Will Echelmeier, Columbia, Mo. – 84-77-77–238
Lucas Farmer, Highland, Md. – 80-80-80–240
Matthew Goddard, Fort Collins, Colo. – 83-78-79–240
Kale Davidson, Peoria, Ariz. – 77-80-83–240
Jason Fitzgerald, Wichita Falls, Texas – 81-80-80–241
Jens Verhey, Reno, Nev. – 77-82-84–243
Jake Staiano, Englewood, Colo. – 81-84-78–243
Alex Park, Vancouver, BC – 88-81-75–244
Kade Crossland, Buhl, Idaho – 81-78-86–245
Cole Bundy, Fort Collins, Colo. – 82-84-86–252
Johnny Brandt, Glendale, Calif. – 87-86-83–256
Josh Radcliff, Arlington, Texas – 73-75-DQ–DQ
John Souza, Phoenix, Ariz. – 78-71-WD–WD
Andrew Ganey, Saint Louis, Mo. – 81-88-WD–WD
Ben Harden, Phoenix, Ariz. – 79-WD
Cody Darling, Glendale, Ariz. – 86-WD
Rovonta Young, Rancho Cucamonga, Calif. – WD

The weather conditions were drippy Tuesday at Ak-Chin Southern Dunes, but several young golfers stayed under par. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

Wes Artac of Kingwood, Texas, stayed steady on another wet day in the Saguaro Amateur at Ak-Chin Southern Dunes Golf Club to take over the lead Tuesday.

Artac’s back-to-back scores of 68 held off Alec Heinen, who is one shot back, and Nick Hardy, who shot the lowest score Tuesday at 65 and is third going into the final day of play. Artac’s two-round total of 136 is 8 under par.

Heinen, who had been tied for 11th after the first round, had seven birdies, despite the conditions. Hardy played a bogey-free round to throw himself into contention.

Tied for fourth at 141 after two days are Turner Maclean, Nick Heinen, Daniel Wetterich and Matt Lee of Cave Creek.

Round-one leader Ryan Roodzant had a disastrous second round of 76 to end up tied for eighth. With him are Hayden Wood, Taylor Moore, Tyler Young, Ryan Gaske, Noah Edmondson and Jimmy Makloski. All but Roodzant and Makloski matched or improved on their scores from Monday.

The golfers tee off for the final time today starting at 9 a.m. The top three tee off at 11:23 a.m.

1. Wes Artac, Kingwood, Tex 68-68—136
2. Alec Heinen, Edmond, Okla 71-66—137
3. Nick Hardy, Northbrook, Ill 73-65—138
4. Turner Maclean, Fort Worth, Tex 68-73—141
Nick Heinen, Edmond, Okla 71-70—141
Daniel Wetterich, Cincinnati, Ohio 70-71—141
Matt Lee, Cave Creek, Ariz 69-72—141
8. Hayden Wood, Edmond, Okla 71-71—142
Taylor Moore, Edmond, Okla 71-71—142
Tyler Young, Toms River, NJ 72-70—142
Ryan Roodzant, Bakersfield, Calif 66-76—142
Ryan Gaske, Brisbane, Australia 73-69—142
Noah Edmondson, Davidson, NC 72-70—142
Jimmy Makloski, Pueblo, Colo 69-73–142

Ellen and Daniel Phegley pose for all-important wedding photographs at Ak-Chin Southern Dunes. Anna Marisol Photography

Finding the perfect venue is often the biggest decision for couples planning a wedding and reception. For some, the easiest choice is their home church, but there are other options for those who want to keep their nuptials in Maricopa.

Ellen and Daniel Phegley decided to forego larger cities nearby for Maricopa when they married. They traveled all the way from Indiana because Ellen’s parents live in Province.

“We love coming out there, so this was a good excuse,” Daniel Phegley said. “And for an April wedding it was the place we felt guaranteed to have perfect weather. We love Maricopa.”

Talia Davis and Andrew Morrison and guests celebrate their wedding at the Dunes. Photo by Merry Grace
Talia Davis and Andrew Morrison and guests celebrate their wedding at the Dunes. Photo by Merry Grace

Between them, Ak-Chin Southern Dunes and The Duke at Rancho El Dorado host up to 30 weddings a year. The golf courses offer both space for many guests and scenic backgrounds for those all-important wedding photos.

The newest venue in Maricopa is Elements Event Center at Ak-Chin Circle, which has unique offerings to help the big day run smoothly.

Ak-Chin Southern Dunes hosts 10 to 15 weddings annually, the majority of those are local couples looking to keep things close to home. Hemapda Ki (Ak-Chin for The Gathering Place) is the indoor venue, which can hold about 110 for plated meal service.

The Arroyo Patio, which overlooks the golf course and Estrella Mountains, provides a beautiful backdrop for the ceremony and can also be set up for a reception that can seat 160. When the weather is nice, the sliding doors of the Arroyo Grille open up to the patio to provide space for a DJ, dance floor, buffet and cake table.

Southern Dunes recently built an event lawn for a larger, outdoor tent reception, or lawn ceremony. This also overlooks the golf course.

“It ended up being pretty easy. We were able to get everything we needed.” — Daniel Phegley

The special events team works with brides and grooms to make their experiences unique and within budget. The innovative chef designs plated meals or buffet menus to suit any palate. Appetizer and bar packages are customized to each bride and groom.

Ak-Chin Southern Dunes partners with Harrah’s Ak-Chin and offers special pricing on hotel packages for the wedding party and guests. It also offers Groom’s Golf Packages and discounted rates for the groom’s party.

“It ended up being pretty easy,” Phegley said. “We were able to get everything we needed, even though some things weren’t local like the DJ and bartender, they were all willing to come to Maricopa.”

The Duke at Rancho El Dorado typically hosts 12 and 15 weddings each year. The space in the Silver Spur restaurant and surrounding patio can hold up to 300 people and provides plenty of space to socialize and dance.

“We offer good food and a great location,” Food and Beverage Director Susan Miller says. “We are also affordable. We can work with any budget.”

The restaurant and patio is bordered by stone walls and surrounded by grassy common areas. The venue also overlooks the water by the 18th hole, providing wedding parties with a lake and waterfall for the background of the ceremony and pictures.

The Duke also lets wedding parties use both indoor and outdoor fireplaces and the chance to “dance under the stars” on the patio for receptions.

Elements Event Center at Ak-Chin Circle is set up for weddings and receptions, including a bridal room for brides to prepare. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson
Elements Event Center at Ak-Chin Circle is set up for weddings and receptions, including a bridal room for brides to prepare. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

The newest venue in the city, Elements Event Center at Ak-Chin Circle can accommodate up 300 guests. Its 11,000 square feet includes an outdoor garden reception area and a fire-pit patio. The Earth Room is a bridal suite with bathroom and shower to help the bride prepare for the event.

Next door is a large lawn that can be set up for any wedding demands. Elements is adjacent to UltraStar Multi-tainment Center, which offers distractions for the kids while the adults party at the reception.

UltraStar COO Adam Saks said the company is also creating packages that place weddings in one of the movie theaters with an exotic background – everything from Maui to the moon – with plenty of excellent seating for guests.

Ak-Chin Southern Dunes

The Duke

Elements Event Center

Adam Wolfe contributed to this story.

This story was published in the Fall Edition of InMaricopa The Magazine.

RELATED: Maricopa wedding vendors help couples keep it local

Pro golfers trying to reach the PGA Tour battled it out in Q-School at Ak-Chin Southern Dunes this week.

A windy Friday in Maricopa played havoc with several golfers trying to qualify for the PGA and knocked several contenders out of advancement to Stage 2.

Ak-Chin Southern Dunes saw the Web.com Tour Qualifying School First Stage Tournament wind up with 28 scoring well enough to move on. The top 23 scores and ties advanced to Second Stage, with a time and place yet to be determined.

Chris Satterlee of Phoenix held steadiest of the four men who were at the top of the leaderboard at the beginning of the day. His 66-70-67-70—273 was good enough for 15 under and a one-stroke victory.

Satterlee’s Q-School was paid for by the Pepsi Tour, where he is the money leader.

While others ahead of them faltered, Xander Schauffele of San Diego and Trevor Murphy of Scottsdale both made big moves Friday to tie for second.

Garrett Sapp, who led after two rounds, finished in eighth place. John Chin, who led after three rounds, finished seventh.

Ak-Chin Southern Dunes has been a go-tour course for tournaments this year. The Q-School was the fifth high-level competition in the last eight weeks.

More than 70 golfers are competing this week at Ak-Chin Southern Dunes in the PGA's Web.com Tour Qualifying School. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

Playing the Ak-Chin Southern Dunes course with remarkable consistency, Garrett Sapp of Long Beach, California, has the lead after two rounds at the Web.com Tour First Stage Qualifying School.

At 11-under, Sapp has a one-stroke lead over Joon Lee of Avondale and John Chin of Temecula, California. Sapp shot a 33-33¬—66 in the first round and a 34-33—67 on day two.

More than 70 golfers are competing. The four-day tournament winds up Friday.

“The event has 23 players advancing to Stage 2, so while there will be a low score, there will really be 23 winners,” said Brady Wilson, manager of Ak-Chin Southern Dunes.

For pro golfers, the Web.com Tour is the “official proving ground of the PGA Tour.”

There are 23 qualifying positions and ties. The 23 players with the lowest scores at the conclusion of play and those tied for the last qualifying position will advance to the Second Qualifying Stage.

Follow the Leaderboard

The tournament is the fifth high-level competition in eight weeks at Ak-Chin Southern Dunes.

The course hosted the Arizona Amateur in August, the Southwest Section PNC and a Gateway Tour event in September, and the Wyoming Men’s Southern Dunes Invitational last week.