More than 50 years ago, former City of Phoenix Mayor Samuel Mardian, Jr. hit the ceremonial first tee shot at Maryvale Golf Course. It was a momentous occasion and marked the beginning of championship golf in West Phoenix.
The course had come to life thanks to the vision of John F. Long and William “Billy” Bell. Long spent his life developing a community on farmland in western Phoenix in the 1950s, which is the Maryvale neighborhood known today.
Bell, a southern California-based golf course architect, was the visionary behind the original Maryvale Golf Course built in 1961 and also designed the U.S. Open Championship course at Torrey Pines in San Diego.
During its 60-year history, Maryvale Golf Course has evolved as a proving ground for local and well-known professional golfers and established PGA professionals competing in amateur and professional tournaments.
- Mike Swartz, who qualified for the PGA Tour in the mid-1990s and appeared in four Phoenix Opens, holds the Maryvale Golf Course record. Swartz shot a spectacular round of 60 while playing merely in his tennis shoes.
- Two of the most prominent PGA professionals at Maryvale Golf Course include Bill Farkas and John Martin. Farkas was a PGA professional at the course from 1961 to 1984. Farkas spent the majority of his career promoting junior golf in the Valley of the Sun and founded the Bill Farkas Swing School.
- Martin, who worked with Farkas for several years before succeeding him, served as the PGA professional from 1984-2006 and continued Farkas’ legacy of teaching junior golfers.
- Lauri Merten who is the 1993 U.S. Women’s Open Champion attended the Bill Farkas Swing School and also called the golf course home.
Maryvale Golf Course, now established as Grand Canyon University Golf Course, is the second golf course owned and operated by the City of Phoenix. This beloved course and its rich heritage has earned its place in the Valley of the Sun, representing Phoenix’s transformation from a small city to an ever-growing metropolis.
In a new partnership with the city of Phoenix, GCU revitalizes the 1960s-era city-owned golf course as part of the university’s ongoing initiative to help reinvigorate the economy and quality of life in West Phoenix.