MARICOPA — The Ak-Chin Southern Dunes Golf Club will take center stage in May as the host site for the first National Golf Invitational.
The inaugural golf event, presented in partnership with “Golfweek,” will feature men’s and women’s golf competition, each with a maximum of 18 teams playing 54 holes of stroke play, a press release from event organizers said.
To participate, golfers must be invited to play.
Women will play first with competition running from May 11 through May 14. Men play May 18 through May 21.
“The exciting new collegiate event comes after the NCAA announced in May that it would allow schools to play in one season-ending event, similar to college basketball’s NIT,” the press release said.
Lance Ringler Golfweek is the tournament’s director. A tournament committee will select the golfers to be invited using the Golfweek/Sagarin and Golfstat rankings, according to the press release.
“This is something I have talked about for many years and am extremely excited to make this a reality,” Ringler said.
Coaches have said they are interested in post-season events for golfers, according to Ringler.
“With the NCAA now allowing teams to play in one post-season event, teams that don’t find a path to the NCAA regional play can now look at what we are doing as an option,” he said.
Ak-Chin Southern Dunes General Manager Brady Wilson said the course is excited to host the invitational.
“Ak-Chin Southern Dunes is excited to carry on our proud tradition of hosting high level championship events as the host site for the men’s and women’s National Golf Invitational,” Wilson said. “Certainly, the popularity of golf in the Valley of Sun and the growing exposure of college golf make for perfect timing to have a second National Championship event so that more college programs and student athletes are able to play into the post-season.”
The invitational is not the first time the spotlight has shone on the Ak-Chin Southern Dunes.
Since it opened in 2002, it has served as a U.S. Open qualifying site and has hosted the first stage of the PGA TOUR’s Korn Ferry Tour Q-School and several top collegiate men’s and women’s golf tournaments, including the Copper Cup, a two-day Ryder Cup-style event featuring in-state rivals the University of Arizona and Arizona State University men’s golf teams, according to the press release.
The course each year hosts top amateurs in the Desert Amateur in December and the Saguaro Amateur in January.
Both events are part of the Troon Saguaro Amateur Series, a multi-tournament series providing high-level amateurs a chance to compete throughout the year, the press release said.
In 2026, Ak-Chin Southern Dunes Golf Club will be a host site for the Men’s Golf NCAA Regionals.
As well, it will be one of six regional sites in the U.S. with each site hosting 14 collegiate teams. The top five teams from each regional will advance to the NCAA championships to be held in 2026 at La Costa Resort and Spa in San Diego, Calif.
The dates for the Ak-Chin Southern Dunes Regionals will be announced at a later date.
Ak-Chin Southern Dunes Golf Club was designed by Brian Curley and PGA TOUR veteran Fred Couples in 2002. Originally developed as a private club by private investors, the golf course encompasses 320 acres of land that was once a part of the Ak-Chin’s May 1912 reservation before it was removed by presidential executive order in late 1912, the press release said.
In 2010, the Ak-Chin Community recovered the land when it purchased the golf facility and opened the course to public play.