This blog explores the history of Phoenix, Arizona and a little bit of Los Angeles and San Francisco, California

How the Maryvale Golf Course became the Grand Canyon University Golf Course, Phoenix, Arizona


I dusted the cobwebs off of my golf clubs yesterday and set out with a good friend to go to a driving range. Well, that was the idea. We never actually got to a driving range, but we did get to a golf course. It's a course that I've played many times, on Indian School Road and 59th Avenue. Originally it was built as part of John F. Long's master-planned community, Maryvale, which he named after his wife.

But time had not been kind to the old golf course, and in the last few years it's needed a bit of, uh, freshening up. Like Encanto golf course, it was flat as a pool table, but that never really bothered me. I liked the tall trees, which were often magnets for my ball, and the wide open spaces.

If you go look at the old course now, you will be surprised - it's absolutely gorgeous. Not only is there a shiny new clubhouse, the course itself has been changed by bringing in an enormous amount of dirt, and changing the shape from flat to curvaceous. The fairways and greens are immaculate. Combine that with beautiful old trees and you have a very respectable little golf course there.

If you're wondering why all of this happened, it's because of Grand Canyon University. And it you live in the west valley, or have driven on the I-17 freeway past Camelback Road, you know about them. Their success has been explosive in the last few years and they have plowed a lot of that money back into the area around the school. And the Maryvale Golf Course was the place they chose for their golf team.

I'm fascinated by Phoenix history, and I include history-in-the-making, which is what is happening all around Grand Canyon University. I go take a look at the construction there as often as I can. You may wonder what I'm looking at, but I'm just looking at history. I would have liked to have been there when Jack Swilling starting digging the first pioneer canals in 1867, I would have liked to have watched the construction of the Ash Avenue Bridge in 1913, I would have loved to have seen the Professional Building when it was brand new in 1932.

Phoenix has been growing like this since it began in 1870. The old-timers shake their heads and wonder where everything has gone. Young people can hardly believe that things used to be different. Me, I just love seeing how everything is connected. And if you'd like to see that, go stand by the 10th tee, next to one of the trees originally planted in the middle of an empty field way out "in the middle of nowhere". It has seen a lot, and there is so much more to see!

Thank you for history adventuring with me.




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