The Arizona Golf Association announced Wednesday that it has changed its venue and dates for its 81st Arizona Amateur Championship, accepting an offer from Southern Dunes Golf Club in Maricopa to replace Desert Forest in Carefree.
Even though Southern Dunes is an all-men’s club, AGA executive director Ed Gowan defended the move, saying the gender restrictions were "not an issue.’’
"Everyone — men and women — will be able to watch the tournament at Southern Dunes,’’ Gowan said.
"There are no restrictions on who can come on the property. It’s not like ladies will be barred at the door.’’
Gowan said the move from Desert Forest, which had previously been scheduled to host the event July 18-23, was necessitated by a "common Bermuda (grass) problem in a few of the fairways’’ that needed to be addressed at that time of the year. Gowan noted that Southern Dunes, which he called a "great golf course,’’ offered to step up and host the tournament, which now is slated for July 25-30.
"The best thing for Desert Forest was that they resod the fairways this summer,’’ said Gowan, noting that the club had switched to a hybrid Bermuda in the fairways three years ago, and that a U.S. Golf Association official had suggested that members make the switch as soon as possible in order to ensure its top condition for the pending U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur Championship in 2007.
Such a late move in the AGA’s schedule is not without precedent. In 2001, Tucson Country Club was unable to host the event at the last minute due to problems with its greens. That year, the Amateur was moved to neighboring Stone Canyon Golf Club in Oro Valley.
Garrett Wallace, the general manager at Southern Dunes, said his club was more than happy to come to the AGA’s rescue.
"It’s an honor for Southern Dunes Golf Club to host the state’s premier amateur tournament,’’ he said.
"To a man, our membership is excited about this opportunity to showcase what we think is the best golf course in the state for the best golfers in the state.’’
Southern Dunes, which can be stretched out to almost 7,500 yards from the back tees, opened in 2002. While all of its members are men, with women allowed to play on Sunday afternoons, it lists its private status as "invitation only’’ rather than being an allmen’s club — even though all of its members are male.