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Photos by Jim Headley

The 2019 Ak-Chin Smash in the Sun/World Long Drive began Friday morning with qualifying at 8 a.m. Final qualifying was Friday afternoon. The master’s division takes place Saturday, open division is Sunday and Monday and the woman’s division is on Tuesday. The open and women’s final will be Tuesday from 1 to 3 p.m. and will be broadcast live on the Golf Channel from Ak-Chin Circle next to UltraStar Multi-tainment Center.

What: World Long Drive & Ak-Chin Smash in the Sun
When: April 12, 7:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m.
April 13, 7:30 a.m.-6:30 p.m.
April 14, 7:30 a.m.-4 p.m.
April 15, 7:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m.
April 16, 7:30 a.m.-3 p.m. (televised 1-3 p.m.)
Where: Ak-Chin Circle Field, 16000 N. Maricopa Road
How much: Free
Info: AkChinSouthernDunes.com/WLD

The World Long Drive is back.

Ak-Chin Smash in the Sun is April 12-16 on the field at Ak-Chin Circle next to UltraStar Multi-tainment Center. The competition starts with an Open Division of 32 and a Women’s Division of 16. Last year, Will Hogue of Tennessee won the Open Division with a drive of 421 yards, and Phillis Meti of New Zealand won the Women’s Division with a drive of 380.

Ak-Chin Southern Dunes is partnering with World Long Drive Association for the event. Competition starts at 7:30 a.m. each day. By the last day, April 16, there will be eight men and four women competing in the finale, which will be televised live on The Golf Channel from 1 to 3 p.m.

“This year we have an extra day of qualifying,” Ak-Chin Southern Dunes General Manager Brady Wilson said.

Golf fans can come out and watch for free and enjoy shaded stadium seating. Wilson said there is a lot of excitement in the early rounds, when up to four competitors are driving golf balls at the same time.

This year, the event has moved from May to April, putting it first on the tour.

“We’ve had a whole year to plan to make sure it’s pristine,” Wilson said. “We’ve really produced a great venue.”

He said the agronomy team of Dan Payson and Wes Hamer have the grid looking great. He credited Brittany Sourjohn with the smooth running of last year’s event and said she has been excellent at dealing with the many moving part that make up this year’s Smash.

Organizers also need volunteers for grandstand attendants, runners/floaters, hospitality, retail and player registration. Volunteers must be age 18 and up. Contact Amanda at ARoninger@ak-chin.nsn.us.

The five-day competition is two events. One is a regional qualifier for the Volvik World Long Drive Championship in Oklahoma in Aug. 30-Sept. 4. Anyone can try out, Wilson said. The other event is the Smash in the Sun Tour Event.

In addition, there will be a Masters Division on Saturday for age 45 and up.

This story appears in the April issue of InMaricopa.

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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.


Maricopa Historical Society is hosting its seventh annual golf tournament May 5.

Come have a fun time with Maricopa Historical Society. Meet on May 5 for the seventh annual Golf Tournament at The Duke Golf Course.

Whether you are a golfer or non-golfer, we will have something for you— golf, lunch, raffle items, and silent auction. CHECK OUT THE PACKET HERE

The golfer lineup is off to a good start, as are the new youth golfer sponsorships. Young golfers have expressed an interest in participating and community members are already donating to help provide this opportunity. Heads-up, look out on the longest drive competition…some of these kids can hit!

There are several ways you can join in the fun:

Golfers will play golf, including a couple of contest holes, awards luncheon and door prizes.
·        Individuals can sign up for $125.
·        Gather a foursome for golf – $100 per person.

Not a golfer?
·        Nominate and/or sponsor a youth golfer to participate for $100 per youth
·        Join us for lunch, raffle and silent auction for $25

Hole Sponsorships are available starting at $200. See the Registration packet. Registration packets are available at website MHS50.com or call Paul Shirk at 909-260-3020.

We look forward to your support of the Maricopa Historical Society in another fun morning!

This fund-raising event will help the Maricopa Historical Society be closer to having a permanent location to tell the history of transportation, farming, and important people who have helped make Maricopa what it is today.

Action from last year's tourney. Photo By Raquel Hendrickson

The yearly golfing event that benefits local athletes is set to tee off Saturday morning.

The eighth annual Maricopa High School Football Golf Tournament begins with an 8 a.m. shotgun start and a four-person scramble at Ak-Chin Southern Dunes.

The registration fee per person is $125, and $500 per foursome.

Mark Rasmusson, MHS Football Booster Club president, said the money raised goes toward equipment, trips to football camps and meal planning.

The cost of meals alone each season is over $10,000.

“Every game-day we feed each team: the freshmen, JV and varsity; Along with varsity also every Thursday night before their games, so we are providing four meals a week basically,” Rasmusson said.

The booster club hopes to raise between $18,000 and $19,000 Saturday.

A variety of prizes are offered in the general tourney, including additional prizes for long drive, closest to the hole, and a $5,000 cash prize for a hole-in-one on hole No. 17.

Rasmusson said the event helps provide equal footing for Maricopa football players who play in a large division but live in what still feels like a small town.

“For our kids, sometimes there is a stigma about Maricopa, and we’re trying to provide the kids the same opportunity that every other kid in the state has,” Rasmusson said.

Participants have until 7:30 a.m. the day of the event to sign up. To register visit the Maricopa Rams Football Facebook page.



  • Scotty Cameron putter
  • Titleist driver
  • Traeger Smoker
  • 55 in. 4k smart TV
  • Steel case leap task chair
  • Troon golf package


The Duke at Rancho El Dorado's new course superintendent Mike deCrescenza (left) and new general manager Bryon Gribbons. Photo by Mason Callejas

As the summer months begin to roll in and the Phoenix Valley begins to mirror the sun, one of the industries hardest hit by the seasonal change is golf.


Business begins to slow as courses lose a large part of their customer base when “snowbirds” fly back to cooler climates. Around this time, the courses also begin the sultry struggle to maintain their grounds in the harsh desert environment.

The Duke is no different than any golf course in the Valley. This past year, however, has come with quite a lot of change.

Bryon Gribbons, the new general manager at The Duke, moved over from one of its sister courses, Club West, seven months ago and has since begun the laborious task of improving a course fallen into minor disrepair in recent years.

“It’s an uphill battle,” Gribbons said. “There’s a lot of areas that were neglected for many years that we’re trying to catch up on.”


The difficult summer

To get caught up with improvements, Gribbons hired a new course superintendent in March, Mike deCrescenza, who has more than 15 years of experience in turf management and golf course maintenance in the Valley.

Aside from clearing overgrown brush and trees, deCrescenza said, preparing for summertime is one of the most difficult aspects to his job.

“It’s always a challenge when you get into the warmer months, in terms of transition,” deCrescenza said.

Photo by Mason Callejas

To deal with the seasonal changes, he said, two types of grass are planted side by side. Bermuda grass is used in the warmer months and is then “overseeded” in the cooler months by a rye grass.

Of course, he said, they use a little bit more water during the warmer months but it’s not as much as many people think.


The unique water hazard

Though desert golf courses absolutely depend on the resource, an abundance of water has proven in the past to be a curse for The Duke.

The Duke straddles the Santa Rosa wash, and, according to Gribbons, has dealt with issues of flooding during the rainy season. He said the issue is sometimes made worse by Global Water, which discharges excess drainage water when it’s unable to handle the volume.

“If they’re dumping water and we get a huge storm, then yes, we lose a few holes, typically we lose the front side,” Gribbons said. “[The holes] are not really damaged, but are unplayable because our bridges are flooded so the carts can’t go from tee to green.”

Gribbons said that hasn’t happened this year, since he’s been on board. However, it did happen the previous year, and they lost the entire front nine holes because of it.

The politics of finding a solution with Global Water are beyond his pay grade, Gribbons said. They are legally not allowed to construct a dam in the wash, so he said it’s a tricky situation, but he is confident it will be worked out.


Calling all millennials

For now, Gribbons is simply trying to get through the summer months, which in Arizona are the slowest for any golf course.

As a remedy, The Duke offers special purchasing packages in June and July. To further increase business, Gribbons said, he hopes to bring in more golfers from outside of Maricopa. He also wants to encourage more young people to learn the sport.

In recent years, he said, there has been a decline in young golfers, a fact he hopes to address by reaching out to the high schools and even hosting camps and workshops aimed at attracting younger golfers.

Preston Kessler, a member and weekly golfer at The Duke, is pleased with the progress being made by the new management and hopes improvements continue.

“We talk amongst ourselves, and the consensus is that things are improving,” Kessler said. “If you looked at the greens four or five months ago, it’s dramatically better.”

Photo by Mason Callejas

The ninth annual Maricopa Golf Classic was Saturday at The Duke at Rancho El Dorado. The event organized by Marty Hermanson benefitted the 100 Club, American Service Animal Society and the local VFW Post 12043. Men and women competed for bragging rights and prizes.


Local golfers are polishing their clubs and opening their checkbooks in anticipation for Maricopa’s premier charity golf tournament – the ninth annual Maricopa Golf Classic – to be held April 15 at The Duke.

For the past eight years, the Maricopa Golf Classic has mobilized members of the golfing community and other residents in an attempt to raise money and awareness for organizations which provide much needed services to veterans and first responders.

Event coordinator Marty Hermanson said the tournament is all about recognizing and taking care of those who protect us, domestically and abroad.

“It’s something we do because we like to honor our vets,” Hermanson said. “We like to honor all of our police officers, firefighters and first responders for all their dedication.”

When the event began in 2008, they raised $250 for each of the participating charities. Undaunted by the initial low return, Marty and his wife Brenda pressed on and by 2016, the annual event was raising considerably more.

“It’s amazing,” Brenda Hermanson said. “Last year, after expenses, we were able to get $15,000 for the charities ($7,500 each).”

Though they recognize the dramatic growth the tournament has seen over the years, in 2017 they are hoping for even more.

“The goal is to give at least $18,000 this year,” Marty Hermanson said. “That’s just a goal, but hopefully we’ll make it.”

Participants will have their shot at not only competing in the golf tournament but also smaller challenges along the way, including a putting contest where three golfers will stand a chance to win $50,000.

In previous years, the tournament has benefited the Wounded Warrior Project and the 100 Club. This year the 100 Club is joined by the American Service Animal Society and the local VFW Post 12043.

Registration for the tournament is open through the website until the day of the event. On-site registration will be open at The Duke from 6:30 to 7:30 a.m. the day of the tournament.

Maricopa Police Chief Steve Stahl and the MPD Color Guard will conduct a brief invocation prior to the 8 a.m. shotgun start.

Registration costs are $125 a person, or $500 for a four-person team. Lunch is provided for an additional $25. And, of course, donations can be made in any amount, small or large.

This story appears in the April 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

The Maricopa High School Booster Alliance drew a crowd for its annual golf tournament fund-raiser for the football team Sept. 24 at Ak-Chin Southern Dunes.

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Ranked No. 5 in Arizona

Ak-Chin Southern Dunes Golf Club was recently ranked No. 84 on GOLF Magazine’s 2016-17 “Top 100 Courses You Can Play in the United States” list.


The Brian Curley and Fred Couples design moved up two spots (from 86 to 84) on the publication’s prestigious ranking of the best-of-the-best in public golf. In addition, GOLF Magazine named Ak-Chin Southern Dunes No. 5 in Arizona in their ranking of “Best Courses You Can Play in Arizona.”


Every two years, GOLF Magazine ranks the top golf courses you can play. The list is determined by a panel of 100 raters that includes major winners, course architects, journalists and golf connoisseurs.


Ak-Chin Southern Dunes is no stranger to awards and accolades having been recognized in numerous Top 100, Best in State and Top Casino Course rankings by Golfweek. This Troon-managed facility was also one of the four finalists for the 2016 National Golf Course of the Year by the National Golf Course Owners Association (NGCOA).


“It’s a tribute to the continued commitment from the Ak-Chin Indian Community, Troon Golf and our team of associates here at Ak-Chin Southern Dunes, that we continue to garner these prestigious awards and rankings in such a competitive environment,” said Brady Wilson, general manager, Ak-Chin Southern Dunes.


The jump in the GOLF Magazine rankings can be attributed, in part, by the enhancement project that was completed in advance of the 2015 season. Course enhancements included a complete bunker renovation, additional tee boxes added to six holes, expanded fairway landing areas, and nearly a complete redesign of the par-3 17th hole. Facility enhancements included practice facility improvements to the club’s practice and short-game teaching areas and the creation of a new hybrid practice facility, which serves as a practice facility by day and converts to a six-hole short course called #miniDunes in the afternoon.


For more information on Ak-Chin Southern Dunes Golf Club, call 480-367-8949 visit www.akchinsoutherndunes.com.

Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

Maricopans can play a round of golf and show their appreciation for local first responders at the same time.

Rosemary Quesenberry is hosting a “Silent Heroes” tournament on Oct. 30. All proceeds will be divided between the Maricopa Police Department and Maricopa Fire Department.

The tournament will be at The Duke, 42660 W. Rancho El Dorado Parkway. The shotgun start is at 1 p.m.

Cost is $75 per golfer and includes food after the event. There will be some silent auction items.

Sign up and pay directly to the pro shop at The Duke or mail your payment to The Duke, 42660 W. Rancho El Dorado Parkway. Payments must be received prior to Oct. 28. Groups that want to play together should submit payments together and advise the pro shop.


"Get into Golf" introduces the game to those with little to no knowlege of how to play. Submitted photo

Ak-Chin Southern Dunes announced new “Get Into Golf” player development clinics aimed at introducing golf to new participants.

Executed in conjunction with Troon’s® global initiative, Get Into Golf clinics provide all the tools necessary to give golf a test run, including golf clubs and golf balls, practice range time, a weekly ‘intro to golf’ clinic and ending with a six hole test run – so participants can get a taste of what it’s like to be on a golf course in a friendly, fun and non-competitive atmosphere.

Get Into Golf at is $39 per person. Clinics are held each Sunday at 2:30 p.m. and include:
• “Intro To Golf” Clinic – focus on the Short Game
• Callaway club rentals
• Sleeve of Callaway golf balls
• 6 Holes of golf on #miniDunes

For more information on Ak-Chin Southern Dunes Get Into Golf program, visit www.AkChinSouthernDunes.com To RSVP email Ben Meidl – bmeidl@troon.com or call Golf Shop at 520.426.6827

“The Get Into Golf program is geared towards those who are newer to the game, have never picked up a club or have very little golf knowledge, and knocks down all of the reasons it is difficult to try the sport,” said Ryan Walls, senior vice president, operations, Troon. “Instructors will introduce the basics of the game in a fun, affordable and no-pressure atmosphere and the facilities will provide all of the golf equipment for the participants. Skiing does it so well with their programming and instruction and this is our foray into making it easy for people to Get Into Golf.”

Girls who intend to play on the Maricopa High School girls golf team next school year can get free private lessons from a PGA instructor this summer.

Players can sign up with head coach John Tobin, who will arrange the appointments at The Duke at Rancho El Dorado.

The free session were made possible by a contribution from the Ladies Professional Golf Association and the American Golf Association.

Appointments are beginning now.

Tobin said all high school team members must have three or more instructions throughout the summer campaign.

He said any player that does not have golf equipment can get fitted by an former PGA pro with a free set of clubs.

Contact coach  Tobin at 512-429-0537.

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.

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The Maricopa High School boys’ golf team has seen steady improvement over the first half of the season.

“A couple of the younger guys have stepped forward not having played a lot of golf,” MHS boys’ golf head coach Tanner Carpenter said. “We haven’t won any matches yet, but we’ve been right there and close.”

Sophomore Mitchell Karpes has asserted himself as the team’s top player, working his way up from third in the rotation. The Mountain Pointe High School transfer’s long drives and accurate short game give him a chance against any opponent the team faces.

“The kids come out every day and work hard,” Carpenter said. “When they’re hitting one shot that’s not working for them, they’ll try to adjust something. They’re working hard to make adjustments.”

Carpenter’s expectations were met sooner than he expected. The Rams claimed their first victory of the season Sept. 22 over Vista Grande High School (Casa Grande). The team will look to carry that momentum into the second half of the season.

The boys play today at 3 p.m. at Ken McDonald Golf Course against McClintock and Mesa.