The Truth Be Told: Don’t Fear The Raven, But Respect It!By Michael K. Wong • Jan 13th, 2009
As I headed to my round at The Raven Golf Club at Verrado on a cold, gray, misty morning in December, it was the perfect day to envision that big black bird that looks like a crow on steroids. The raven is mysterious and powerful, soars to great heights and can be intimidating. And the so-named Tom Lehman-John Fought designed golf course at Verrado 25 miles west of Phoenix can be described in the same way as being one of the top Arizona golf courses around.
Make sure you follow the course guide on each hole. “Don’t be fooled” is a phrase that is used in this booklet three times on the first six holes (#2, #4 and #6). “Visually deceptive” (#11) and “avoid the false front” (#13) are other warnings of the mystery of this course. And if you are near the green at the291-yard par-4 13th hole, and you do not play the ball as you should, you might see the dimpled one rolling right back at you. “Lehman and Fought built a green that will return any shot which comes up even an inch short, almost all the way back to the players feet,” according to Doug Foss, director of sales and marketing for The Raven at Verrado. “There are only two pin positions on the green, either middle left or middle right. No golfer, regardless of his or her ability should try to be a hero on this hole,” adds Foss.
The power of The Raven at Verrado can be found in its location. The course sits at the base of the White Tank Mountains, a rugged range that geologists say pushed its way through the earth millions of years ago. Even though relatively small by mountain elevation standards, the jagged white granite mountain’s high point reaches 4000 feet. You will experience the power this Arizona golf course on hole #8, a 457-yard par-4 monster. Off the tee box, a massive rock formation comes into play on the left side of the fairway. Course designers Lehman and Fought wisely designed the hole around this 30-foot high outcropping not only to add another challenge to the hole, but to give us a better appreciation of the tremendous power of Mother Earth. There is power in the sky too. Nearby is Luke Air Force base, the largest F-16 training facility in the world. During your round, you will witness streaking F-16’s zooming across the desert sky, sometimes solo and other times in formation. “The scenery was just awesome!” says playing partner Bo. “Being able to play in that type of setting, mountains all around and in the middle of the desert with Air Force jets flying overhead, made the course that much more unique,” says the 12 handicapper. Adds Foss, “We are very proud to have these guys flying overhead and most golfers enjoy seeing something they don’t get to see everyday.”
Holes #10 and #15 are the most intimidating on The Raven and both are par fives. The 492-yard tenth hole plays uphill all the way to the green and usually into the wind. It is difficult to spot the green on this hole, which makes it all the more intimidating. It is not so much the length of the 544-yard 15th hole that makes it challenging, it is when you get to the Promise Land that makes it difficult. The green slopes back to front and left to right, so making a two putt here is about as rare as seeing Camilo Villegas without a stitch of color in his outfit. The Raven at Verrado plays just over 6800 yards from the second set of tees and has a course rating of 71.6 and slope rating of 126. Par is 72.
Soars to Great Heights
How would you like to hit off of a seven-story building and follow your ball across the desert and onto a soft, well-manicured green? The elevated tee box on the par-3 three 14th hole is about 70-feet above and 168 yards from the dance floor.
The mountain and desert views around the course are magnificent. “Golfer’s will enjoy a view of the Valley from the Western perspective, which is not easy to find in Phoenix,” says Foss. “The golf course is tucked in the foothills of the White Tank Mountains offering spectacular desert vista views..”
But that is not the only thing to soar to great heights. Foss says the Raven at Verrado’s service excels, “I’ve worked for many fine golf courses both in Arizona and California. The Raven Golf Club at Verrado offers world class service and course conditions that rival the likes of any of the TPC or Troon courses.”
My playing partner Bo agrees, “One of the best things about the Raven course is that it’s a state of the art facility, from the golf course to the restaurant.”
The Verrado Grille, led by executive Chef Peter Dodge, offers an upscale dining experience for golfers and the surrounding community alike. The pro shop is unique in itself says Foss. “We want to cater to the shopper in all golfers so we carry some home decor as well,” he says.
The distinctive pro shop, superb dining and dazzling course layout is creating a buzz in the golf community. In May 2008, Golf Digest ranked the Raven at Verrado #1 in its Phoenix power ranking. So for your next Arizona golf vacation, venture just west of Phoenix and experience the mystery and power of The Raven.
On a sunny day, bring the visor and sunscreen. There are not many shade trees on the fairways, near the tee box or around the greens. You will have to seek refuge in your cart in order to beat the sun on this course.
• Verrado is derived from the Spanish word “verdad” which means truth.
• Golf Digest ranked the Raven Golf Club at Verrado #1 in its Phoenix power ranking in May 2008. GolfWeek named The Raven Golf Club at Verrado as “one of America’s Best New Public Golf Courses” in 2005. Sports Illustrated named The Raven at Verrado “the #1 Public Golf Courses in Phoenix.” Golf Magazine cited Raven at Verrado as one of the “Top 10 New Golf Courses You Can Play.”
• Verrado is a community 25 miles west of Phoenix (about 40 minutes) located on 8,800 acres of land. The community, which opened in January of 2004, was designed to employ a small-town feel and even has its own Main Street district with businesses. The community of Verrado is in the town of Buckeye, Arizona home to about 9,000 people.
• From Sky Harbor airport, it is quicker to drive to Verrado than it is to North Scottsdale.
• The golf course is about five miles west Luke Air Force Base, which is a major training facility for F-16 fighter pilots.
FIVE THINGS YOU MIGHT OVERHEAR AT THE RAVEN VERRADO:
• Did you see that “Watch For Deer” sign on the way in?
• ZOOOOOOOOMMMMMM!!!!! There go the F-16’s again!
• Cool! Free range balls!
• I’ve never seen the White Tank Mountains THIS close! They’re awesome!
• I’d play this course again!