When I found out that the course we would be reviewing this time was The Raven Golf Club I was very excited because I’ve lived in Arizona for sixteen years, but never played or even visited this course. I knew roughly where the course was located, and I knew that it had recently been purchased by O.B. Sports, but other than that I was flying blind.
The golf course is located at Baseline Road and 36th Street in Phoenix. I mention this because if you are familiar with Baseline Road it is a major thoroughfare that runs east to west in south Phoenix. Businesses dot either side of the road and South Mountain dominates the landscape to the south side of the road.
At 36th Street I take a right at the large “Raven Golf Club” sign that marks the entrance to the club and it feels like you are taking a side street that leads you back between an apartment building and a business. The road bends slightly, you cross the bridge that spans the irrigation canal to find that you have magically crossed over into another world.
The first thing you notice is there are pine trees everywhere. They provide a feel to the landscape that makes you feel like you are anywhere but south Phoenix. For a golfer who grew up in Central Oregon, I feel like I’ve been teleported home for a round with friends.
I’m greeted at the bag drop by a team of young men in Plus-Fours who welcome me to the club and ask me for my tee time. After I’ve provided that information, I’m informed that my guests have not yet arrived, but they will have us all staged right in front of the clubhouse and then he directs me to the pro shop for check in. Behind the Pro Shop counter I was greeted by Joe who welcomes me and asks if I’ve ever played The Raven before. When I answer no, he then gives me a lay of the land, introduces me to the player assistant Matt, and tells me that Matt will come find us when they are ready for us at the first tee.
The pro shop and restaurant are separated by a small atrium and the locker rooms are located on either side of that. The locker rooms are very clean and well supplied. In fact, they only thing separating them from the locker rooms you would find at many private clubs is the size. After applying the necessary four coats of sunscreen and washing the remainder of it off my hands, I head to the practice facility. The practice facility is outstanding for a public golf course. There is a huge range with grass tees and plenty of targets. There is a huge practice putting green with a nice variety of putts, and then there is a great chipping area with closely mown grass, rough length grass and also a practice bunker.
When it was our time to head to the first tee Matt came and found us and provided some information about the course, pin placements, the names of the beverage cart and player assistants that we would meet on the course and then wished us luck. From this point on my review becomes very simple…The tees, the fairways, the bunkers (unfortunately I found a few) and greens were in great shape.
The men in our group played the course from the Black tees, or just shy of 7100 yards. There was a great blend of lengths on the par 3’s with the shortest playing to 137 yards and the longest playing about 230 yards to the back left pin (I made par on that hole, thank you very much). The par 4’s also have a nice variety in length, with the shortest being the drivable 5th hole and the longest playing to every inch of its 477 yards. The par 5’s are no “gimme” birdie with two of them playing over 590 yards, while the other two are more reachable.
After our round we went in to the Grille 36 where once again we were greeted nicely and treated great by the bartender Heather. They have a great menu selection and a full bar to help you celebrate a great round, or forget a bad one.
For me, The Raven is a must play golf course in Phoenix. I had a great time and can’t say enough about the conditions of the course and the quality of people that work there. I can’t comment on what this course was like before O.B. Sports took over, but I can certainly tell you that they have turned this place into a first rate facility.
. . . representing the gals
READER REVIEW: Leah Whiting
I moved to Phoenix five years ago after college to work on my game and see if I had the ability and desire to try and make it to the ladies professional tour. When I first arrived to Phoenix a friend brought me to the Raven and it became my primary place to practice and play for the first year I was here.
I certainly appreciate the access I was given then, but today I recognized a noticeable change in everything about the facility. The employees were enthusiastic and happy to help or provide information. The clubhouse was clean and the pro shop was filled with new clothing lines, shoes and hats. The locker rooms were organized, well stocked and very clean. But as player who spent the majority of my time there on the range and the golf course, this is where I saw the biggest improvement.
The practice facility is in great shape with plenty of well-defined target greens. The short game area for chipping and bunker practice was in great shape with plenty of room for multiple people to practice at the same time, and the putting green was in great shape and rolling very true. I was able to find plenty of straight putts and breaking putts to help me gage the speed of the greens and prepare for the round.
The layout of the golf course has always been good, but today it was the great course conditions, and consistency of the greens and bunkers that struck me as much improved. I’ve always enjoyed the fact that the Raven has a nice variety of length to it the par 3’s, 4’s and 5’s, but if I had to pick one group I would say it is the wide variety in the par 4’s that make this golf course such a great place to play and practice. The par 4’s alone will probably challenge most golfers with almost every club in their bag if they play from the proper set of tees for their ability.
After our round we went to the restaurant to have a drink and discuss the course and our round, again we were greeted by a very friendly and fun staff member, Heather. She put on the basketball game for us to watch and joked with us about our round (and the inability of three men playing with me to give me a good match). Whether it was the great conditions or that fact that I thumped three men who thought they could play (Bob, Brad and Mike), I had a great time and I will certainly be back.
RAVEN GOLF CLUB – PHOENIX
3636 E. Baseline Road,
Phoenix, AZ 85042
Phone: (602) 243-3636
Jeremy Strauss, PGA
Head Golf Professional