If you want a break from desert golf in Arizona, GCU is a great place to play. The course went through a major renovation in recent years and now is a favorite in the valley by local residents.
The course is a parkland style track that has no desert terrain in sight. Unless you pull or push a drive into the houses, you won’t lose too many golf balls. It’s a great test of your game and with so many tee boxes, a challenge for any level golfer.
GCU (Grand Canyon University) Golf Course Review
GCU is an 18-hole public golf course located in Maryvale, Arizona. It’s a par 71 that tips out 7,239 yards and is the home course of the GCU Antelope’s. It’s very flat and a traditional walking course with some memorable holes.
The first impressions of GCU aren’t great; in fact I think it’s the only public golf course that has armed security. It’s located in Maryvale, which isn’t the nicest area of Arizona but once you’re in the gates it’s a great course. You will hear ambulances and sirens throughout the day (most likely in the middle of your swing) so be prepared ahead of time.
The driving range is pretty decent with turf and natural grass. They don’t have a practice bunker or much of a short game area close to the practice tee. If you’re on the GCU golf team, they have a chipping green by the 7th hole but not for the public. There is a good-sized putting green where you can chip, putt, and pitch though.
Best Holes on GCU Golf Course
The tees you play make a big difference at GCU; they have five tee boxes so make sure to choose wisely. The tips are nearly 7,300 yards and don’t forget, it’s a par 71 (the men’s rating is 74.3) so it’s a big golf course. The black tees are still a good test for scratch players at nearly 7,000 yards.
Here are the best holes at Grand Canyon University golf course.
#3: Par 5, 642 Yards
If you’re playing the tips, this is a monster hole to start the day. I’ve only seen one mini-tour player hit on the green from the back tees so it’s likely a three shot hole. If you’re up a tee box, it’s about 570 so it will still take two good shots to find the green.
For most golfers, play it for three shots and avoid the lone fairway bunker left. On your second, make sure you hit over the fairway bunkers for a shot inside 100 yards. The green slopes heavily from back to front, so don’t miss long as it’s a nearly impossible up and down.
#7: Par 4, 485 Yards
Holes 7-9 are what I call the gauntlet of GCU. I’ve always said if you can play these three holes at even par, you are going to beat your buddies or get a few shots on the rest of the field in competition.
Number seven is a long par four at nearly 500 yards from the tips. If you go toward the left side of the fairway, you can get some extra bounce but if you pull the shot at all, you have tons of tree trouble.
The approach shot is a long one even if you hit a good drive and the green is huge. Avoid the right bunker and aim for the middle of the green. Par is a great score on this long, tough par four.
#8: Par 3, 210 Yards
Once you’re done grinding on number seven, there is no relief on the next hole. The 8th hole is a par 3 that can be as long as 210 yards with trouble everywhere.
Missing right will leave you in a deep bunker well below the surface of the green and a big miss is in the water. Bailing out left is just as bad as the mound’s kick your golf ball even further left.
The middle to left part of the green is your ideal landing spot. The only “bail out” is short of the green as it might bounce up on to the front. A three is a phenomenal score on this hole, especially if the wind is blowing.
#11: Par 3, 224 Yards
The 10th hole is an easy par five so give you some confidence after finishing the gauntlet that is holes 7-9. Number eleven puts you back in defense mode though as it’s another long par three.
Regardless of what box you play, it’s a long shot to a green you can’t see from the tee box. The bunkers you see aren’t in play (unless you chunk it 40 yards short of the green) and there is a two tier green that awaits as well.
Don’t flirt with a left pin position because if you miss left, the mounds kick it further left leaving a tough chip shot. Aim for the middle of the green, take a par, and get ready for the challenging 12th.
#14: Par 4, 342 Yards
This is a hole you want to take advantage of since it’s so short and there is no trouble in sight. I like to hit the driver as hard as I can at the right greenside bunker.
If you miss right it’s the 12th fairway and easy chip shot. Missing left is problematic with a big bunker and trees that will impact your approach shot.
Be careful of a back left flag as it’s the hardest pin location on the green. There is a large slope that runs through the middle of the green and your ball can run off the green.
#18: Par 5, 550 Yards
The final hole at GCU is a good time to get a shot back. Since there are only three par 5s, you need to take advantage of this one. However, the drive makes it a very intimidating shot even if it’s not the longest hole.
The fairway is only 25-yards wide between trees and the bunker left. If you pull it left of the bunker, you might find a water hazard as the terrain slopes that way.
I’ve found the best play is to aim down the first hole which runs adjacent to this fairway. It takes water out of play and if you hit it well, you can still get to the green in two shots. You will have to go over some trees with your approach but it’s achievable.
Best Shot of the Day
My best shots of the day came at the start of the gauntlet. On hole #7, I hit a perfect drive but pulled it just a little and hit a branch. The ball came to rest directly under a tree and left me 220 yards to a back pin.
Luckily, I had a window and a good lie. I hit a perfect 5-iron punch shot under one tree and between two others to give myself 30-feet for birdie.
The next hole I hit a terrible tee shot left and had a difficult 25-yard pitch. I clipped it too good but it ended up hitting the flagstick (which slowed it down) and somehow made an impossible up and down save. I ended up playing holes 7-9 in even par!
Rating = 7.5/10
The parkland style layout is a welcome addition to the Phoenix area and a nice break from desert golf. The only downside is that the conditions range greatly depending on the time of the year.
Summer conditions are rough and not always worth the drive to Maryvale. In season, it’s usually in great shape and a fun layout.
What’s In The Bag
- Driver = Callaway Triple Diamond Rogue ST Max 9.0 – adjusted to 10.0 with “D” setting with Project X HZRDUS Smoke 70 gram shaft (X-Flex)
- 3-Wood = Callaway Mavrik Subzero 15 degrees with 80 gram Project X HZRDUS Smoke 80 gram shaft (X-Flex)
- Hybrid = Titleist TSi3 with Project X HZRDUS Smoke 90 gram shaft (X-Flex)
- Utility iron = Titleist U500 4 Iron (23 degrees) with Project X HZRDUS Smoke 100 gram shaft (X-Flex)
- Irons = Callaway Apex TCB 5-AW with 115 gram Project X IO shafts (X-Flex)
- Wedges = Titleist Vokey SM8 (56.10 & 62.8)
- Putter = PXG Operator
- Ball = Titleist Pro V1X
Should You Play This Course?
If it’s the right time of year, it’s a solid course. I recommend playing it between November and April for the best conditions. Plus, most other golf courses are 2-3X the price so it’s worth the drive and it’s a great test of your game.
- Grand Canyon University Golf Course - July 15,