Sun Devil Golf continues to flourishes at one of the Valley’s top golf courses
ASU Karsten Golf Course has witnessed 28 years of Sun Devil Golf history with a long list of notable players and accomplishments. The Sun Devils started hot the year it opened in 1989 when Phil Mickelson christened the facility with a NCAA Men’s Golf Individual National Championship. Nearly three decades later, they’re still rolling with the recent women’s team winning both individual and team championships in ‘17.
The Golf Course
The par-70 (34-36), 7002-yard golf course features many of the design tenets that put Pete Dye on the map such as dramatic and subtle mounding, water features buttressed by railroad ties, deep bunkering (both grass and sand) all wrapped up with a links-type feel. It’s not quite as stern of a test when compared to some of his eyebrow-raising designs, but it was definitely built with the modern power game in mind.
The ASU Karsten Golf Course project got off the ground thanks to the vision of the Sun Angel Foundation and athletic director at the time, Fred Miller. Instead of using university or taxpayer dollars, the Sun Angel Foundation cobbled together a generous coalition of private donors led by local luminaries such as PING’s Karsten Solheim, Bob and Karen Hobbs, “Solly” Sollenberger, Keith Turley and many others.
Founded in 1947, The Sun Angel Foundation is dedicated to academics and excellence at Arizona State University. Not only did the Sun Angels spearhead the golf course project, they were instrumental in building the Sun Angel Clubhouse, and like the golf course, it was entirely funded through private contributions.
Decade of the Devils
The ‘90s were certainly good to Sun Devil Golf. During that stretch, the men’s team won two championships (’90, ’96), while the women won six (’90, ’93, ’94, ’95, ’97, ’98), including three in a row. Mickelson notched two more NCAA Men’s Golf National Championships in ’90 and ’92 before Todd Demsey’s win in ’93. The ladies posted three individual titles of their own: Emilee Klein in ’94; Kristel Mourgue d’Algue in ’95; and Grace Park in ’99.
Sun Devil Men’s Golf also doubled down by winning team and individual honors in 1990, while the ladies followed suit twice in the 10-year stretch in ’94 and ’95.
The Spanish Connection
In 2003, Alejandro Canizares won NCAA Men’s Golf Individual National Championship followed by fellow Spaniard Azahara Munoz in 2008 who also was part of the team that also won the 2009 NCAA Women’s Golf National Championship.
Another Spaniard, Jon Rahm burst onto the ASU golf scene in 2012 and quickly made an impact. Despite posting the second-best season scoring average in NCAA Golf history at the time – 69.15 – Rahm never did take home the individual or team championships. But before you feel sorry for him, check out what he was able to accomplish.
Rahm is the only two-time recipient of the prestigious Ben Hogan Award; amassed 11 career collegiate victories, the second-most in program history behind Phil Mickelson (16); notched 35 career top-10 finishes in 52 collegiate events; and he finished T-5 at a PGA TOUR event, 2015 Waste Management Phoenix Open, while still an amateur playing college golf.
Recent “Double Take”
In 2017, for the third time in ASU Women’s Golf history, the lady Sun Devils took both the team and individual honors in the national championship, this time, led by Monica Vaughn. Twenty-two years earlier, Kristel Mourgue d’Algue notched the individual championship, and the year before that, Emilee Klein and crew did the same. Of the 12 instances in NCAA history when one team came home with both, ASU Women’s Golf owns three.
Follow in the Footsteps of Champions
With roughly 300 golf courses in the Valley of the Sun, only a few have hosted competitive tournaments at the highest levels of the game. And honestly, the term “championship course” is thrown around so much, it’s become meaningless. ASU Karsten fits the definition of a championship course where generations of the world’s best golfers have competed for top honors. It’s literally a place where you can follow in the footsteps of champions.