The Raven Golf Club at South Mountain is not your classic desert golf course. Only five miles south of the Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport, this tranquil golf track has great views of the Phoenix skyline and broad views of the rugged South Mountains.
Designed by Gary Panks and David Graham in 1995, land was transformed by moving 800,000 cubic yards of earth, bringing in thousands of mature pine trees and truckloads of pine needles to form a base. The result was a fun track with lush rolling fairways bordered by countless pine trees and an occasional palm tree supplemented with three substantial lakes. There is just no other golf course in the southwest part of the United States like this. Unlike most desert courses which have forced carries and punishing barrancas, this is a very fun, playable yet challenging. Developed on only 162 acres, a tremendous variety of holes will require all the clubs in your bag. Four sets of tees provide good choices. The fairways are reasonably wide, but straying balls will find the pine trees. The key here is to find the putting surface. Greens are surrounded by grassy swales that gobble up errant approach shots and make recovery shots more challenging. Fairway bunkers are modest, and the green bunkering is more limited than most. A major grass tee double-sided practice range that includes five target greens is available near a huge putting green. A commitment to service excellence is evident throughout the facility.
The first hole illustrates the incredibly unique element of this desert course – the dense pine trees and associated pine needle ground cover. Short Par4’s in the 300-yard range provide a fun challenge. Large greens surrounded by grassy swales are commonplace. The final hole is an eye-catching medium length Par4 beauty. After a safe tee shot to the left side, the approach shot needs to navigate away from water hazards closely guarding both right and behind the green. The eighteenth provides a picturesque backdrop to the clubhouse and grille.
The Raven Golf Club at South Mountain is like no other desert course in the Phoenix area. Thousands of pine trees provide a Midwest or Eastern course feel. Being so close to the Phoenix airport, it’s easy to find.