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Arizona Golf Course Review

Raven Golf Club Phoenix  - Arizona Golf Course 07

The Raven Golf Club Phoenix is a David Graham/Gary Panks design that is rated as a 4 1/2 star course (out of 5) by Golf Digest Places to Play. This stunning layout is unique to the southwest area, as it features an abundance of fairways lined with mature pine trees supplemented with an occasional palm, suggesting an eastern feeling to this desert setting. The rolling terrain provides stunning views of South Mountain as well as of Phoenix and the surrounding desert. In 2000, the Raven was recognized as the top golf course in the country in terms of service, and that atmosphere was still evident on our visit. From the time we checked in to the time we left, attendants were available to take care of every need imaginable. Our clubs were quickly taken to our cart which was situated next to the expansive practice facility. A grass range is available as well as a short game area with chipping green and practice bunker. The putting green is also huge - and provides a good indication of the outstanding quality of Bermuda grass that golfers will encounter on the course. In 2012: The Raven is now managed by OB Sports, and recently underwent extensive renovations to the clubhouse and the landscaping.

Raven Golf Club Phoenix  - Arizona Golf Course 07

Raven Golf Club Phoenix  - Arizona Golf Course 07

At several junctures during our round, a player assistant dropped in to visit, and to provide additional ice water and mango ice towels. Each cart at the Raven is equipped with an ice chest and with ball and club washers. Special attention is afforded to landscaping, particularly near the tees and greens, with native shrubbery and flower beds meticulously cared for.

Golfers will find yardage blocks in the center of the fairways at 100,150 and 200 yards. GPS are provided on all carts and offer accurate yardage info from tee to green. The clubhouse includes a fine pro shop, locker rooms with showers, and the Raven Grill - a restaurant/lounge that serves breakfast and lunch items. The facilities for outings, banquets and special events can accommodate groups of up to 200 people, and an outdoor terrace provides spectacular golf course views.

The four sets of tees at the Raven measure 7078/130 slope, 6722/127 slope, 6264/121 slope, and 5759 yards with a slope of 119 for the less experienced golfers. The regular or white tee boxes are recommended for the average golfer, who will still encounter a couple of long, challenging par fours from these tee areas. The par fours and fives tee boxes offer special tee areas for seniors, beginners and students. The fairways here are quite generous but are also undulating, and are usually defined by rolling mounds that are flanked by pine trees. The trick to scoring well here is to reach the mildly sloped and true rolling putting surfaces - without landing in the grassy swales, depressions and collections areas that frequently surround the greens. There are 52 sand bunkers and 4 holes with water hazards.

Raven Golf Club Phoenix  - Arizona Golf Course 07

The opening hole plays adjacent to the range, so anything hit left will be difficult to locate. Stay left of center along the undulating fairway, and place emphasis on reaching the green as mis-hit approaches will find grassy swales and collection areas that make for a tricky up and down. The green on number two sits on a plateau with steep declines short and left, and bunkers right and behind. A narrow elevated fairway awaits off the tee on the #1 handicapped par four 3rd. The approach is simple, but this hole plays long (477, 459 & 443 from 3 back tees). Pine trees line the fourth fairway and a huge bunker awaits shots hit to the left. The putting surface is sloped back to front and right to left, with an expansive trap to the right and grass collection areas left of the double tiered green. A lay up to the 100-90 yard area right of center is recommended on five, as the fairway past the traps along the left is very narrow. The approach over the bunker to another two-tiered putting surface is a simple one. The fairway on six is generous, although water comes into play far left about 150 out. An approach from the left side takes the intimidating right bunker complex out of play. Seven is a gorgeous par three with a long sand bunker along the left providing a buffer from the water hazard. This hole plays uphill, with some room left of the green. From the forward tees, the water and bunker are basically removed from play.  A pond is situated 180 yards from the green on the dogleg right par four 8th. The 120 yard area to the right of center is a good place to be. There is ample room off the tee on nine. Avoid the fairway bunkers and the uphill approach to a right to left sloped green is do-able.

Raven Golf Club Phoenix  - Arizona Golf Course 07

The back side begins with a couple of score-able holes, a grip it and rip it par four and a simple par three - both of which play uphill. The 12th is a rather short par five, which also rewards a grip it and rip it mentality. Avoid the six bunkers on this hole and a good score can be had. Thirteen presents a generous fairway, but a huge bunker must be negotiated to reach the right to left sloped green. An up and down from the slopes on all sides of the par three, plateau green 14th is a tricky proposition. This precedes an interesting par four with a risk/reward scenario. The safe play is left of center, but those with distance can choose to attempt to carry the fairway bunker, with the 50-60 yard area the preferred landing zone. There are no greenside traps, but grass swales and collection areas will create a challenging recovery for shots that miss the green. The fairway on 16 is wide and rolling, and narrows on the approach with a bunker right and mounding to the left. Seventeen is tight off the tee, as it plays to an undulating fairway lined by pines on either side.  It opens up past the right fairway trap, but uneven lies will create some challenging chips and pitches. The final hole presents a generous fairway, with water in play along the right about 70 yards away. There is plenty of bail out room to the left on the approach - with spectacular landscaping featured in the area between the green and the clubhouse. This is a great finishing hole!

Raven Golf Club Phoenix  - Arizona Golf Course 07

Raven Golf Club Phoenix  - Arizona Golf Course 07

The Raven's claim to fame is top notch service on a beautiful championship golf course. We experienced both on our visit, and would be surprised to hear someone say anything different. Arrive early to enjoy the great practice facilities, and stay for lunch afterwards. The Raven is also home to the Jeff Ritter Golf & Martin Chuck's Tour Striker Golf Academy, specializing in complete game improvement.

Raven Golf Club Phoenix  - Arizona Golf Course 07

For more information, visit our page for the Raven, with a link to their website, by clicking here.
Photos in this review were provided by The Raven Golf Club Phoenix.

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