"Retro" Course Underway in Phoenix

Along with architects Brian Curley and Lee Schmidt, PGA Tour player Fred Couples is co-designing a new private golf course near Phoenix. Normally this wouldnít be big news.

But Southern Dunes Golf Club will be Arizonaís first all-male club. As expected, womenís groups are objecting to the plans. It will be "the only club of its kind in the Southwest," Couples said in a statement without specifying what he meant.

Curley said the men-only layout is needed for serious, low-handicap golfers. "There are a certain number of players who want this kind of environment," Curley said. "Itís not an anti-female deal. Itís the same concept as women who want a women-only athletic club."

Sounds simple, right? Not according to interested onlookers such as Eleanor Eisenberg, executive director of the American Civil Livberties Union of Arizona, who told the Arizona Republic, "I find it rather shocking that there are still such bastions of intolerance."

Kathleen Ferraro, director of womenís studies at Arizona State University, sees the stag golf course as gender bias. "I donít think they would be wiling to say itís a white-only club, so why are they comfortable in saying itís a men-only club?" Ferraro inquired.

Developer Tony Lizza is behind the golf-only private club. The project, located 25 minutes south of Phoenix, is being financed by membership sales. Lizza is no stranger to these types of "players" clubs, having built the private Palms and Plantation courses in Palm Springs, both of which were designed by Schmidt-Curley and Couples.

Southern Dunes will be a "core" golf course, with no homes, no condos, no tennis courts, and no swimming pool. Tee times will not be required. This so-called "pure golf experience" comes with a $25,000 membership tariff and monthly dues of $300. A lifetime membership Ė sans dues - costs $80,000. When 500 memberships are sold, the clubís ownership will be transferred to the members.

Construction of the course by Flagstick, Schmidt-Curley's construction management firm, commenced in fall 2001. The project involves a a practice facility with six par-3 holes and a 27,000-square-foot clubhouse. Press reports have not indicated how many womenís rest rooms will be contained in the new clubhouse.