Historic layout attached to Grand Canyon University to receive an $8 million makeover
PHOENIX, Ariz. – Grand Canyon University (GCU), a private Christian university, has assumed management of Maryvale Golf Course, a municipal facility owned by the City of Phoenix. The university agreed to invest $8 million to revitalize the worn-out course, which has lost money in recent years. Scottsdale-based architect John Fought has been hired to revamp the layout, with Duininck Golf as the contractor. The course closed for reconstruction on Jan. 15. A fall 2015 opening is expected.
Community feedback indicated that area residents wanted the city to find a way to keep the affordable municipal course open and accessible to players from a variety of socio-economic backgrounds. Last October, the Phoenix Parks and Recreation Board unanimously approved a 30-year deal with the university, which will underwrite the course repairs and upgrade the clubhouse. In return, the GCU’s men’s and women’s NCAA Division I golf teams will have a new home course.
“The big story is west Phoenix will have a premier golf course in the state,” said Brian Mueller, GCU’s president and CEO. “We want to give people a reason to come to this side of town.”
Designed in 1961 by William F. Bell, creator of famed Torrey Pines in La Jolla, Calif., Maryvale is known for its tall mature trees, four sparkling lakes and large green expanses in urban west Phoenix. Spread across a generous 130-acre parcel, the course will be extended to more than 7,200 yards (par 72) from the championship tees to create a potential site for college tournaments.
According to Fought, “The basic layout of the golf course is actually quite good. The holes fit together well. But after 50 years of neglect, the facility is totally rundown.” He added that while Bell’s basic routing and playing corridors will be retained, fairway contours will be introduced on the flat site to enhance drainage. To produce a versatile, strategic test, Fought noted that all existing course features, including greens, tees and bunkers, will be completely reconstructed.
“We at Duininck Golf are excited for the opportunity to partner with John Fought and GCU on this project,” said company principal Judd Duininck. “Working with great clients like John and GCU who share the same values as Duininck Golf make for great projects. John has some unique design tweaks in store for Maryvale, and our team is anxious to bring these to life.” Duininck Golf recently teamed with Fought to complete a successful revival of the Donald Ross-designed Wilmington Golf Course in North Carolina.
“Duininck Golf has a proven track record,” Fought said of the contractor. “I’ve worked with the company’s construction crew before and they’re really good. The site supervisors are excellent, as are the shapers. I’m delighted they’ve been hired.”
Fought explained that a virtually new layout will be superimposed on the current Maryvale Golf Course, which is located three miles west of GCU’s main campus,. “I am retaining the basic footprint, and the new holes as before will be framed by mature Aleppo pines, palms and eucalyptus trees, but the course itself will be brand new.”
Fought added that a vegetative edge of oleander will be planted around the perimeter of the course to buffer the holes from passing traffic. The greens, he explained, will be slightly elevated, while the 80 fairway and greenside bunkers will be rebuilt and in many cases repositioned. Fifty-plus years of top dressing will be cored out from the old greens and used to create subtle contours around the new putting surfaces.
Given its pedigree, the new facility will be a parkland-style course, not a target-style desert layout with limited turfgrass. Fought’s design scheme features greens and tees within close proximity of each other to encourage walking.
“I always try to design courses that are classic and strategic, not penal,” Fought said. The end result, according to Muller, will be a course with the potential to host an NCAA championship—but also serve the needs of the neighborhood.
Media Contact: Brian McCallen