Course Review - The Raven At Verrado
Ich dien! Ich dien!At the Raven they certainly come to serve in any language.
They not only pamper the greens, fairways and cacti, but also the guests with
their legendary service.
Service – the one adjective most often used to describe The Raven at Verrado.
The staff is attentive. Seemingly every desire a player could have – from
having an attendant greet you at the bag drop to a player assistant delivering
a new sleeve of balls to you on the 12th tee to the ranger raking the sand trap
for you after a frustrating errant shot – is taken care of seamlessly,
flawlessly and without any discernable effort on the part of the guest.
Remarkably the Raven at Verrado has matched the legendary service of its sister
course, The Raven at South Mountain. Not an easy feat when you consider that
South Mountain was picked by Golf Digest as providing the Number 1 Guest
Service in the World.
It is a spectacular new golf course laced through the foothills of the White
Tank Mountains. Crafted by renowned designers John Fought and Tom Lehman, The
Raven is a must play for those seeking the very best golf the Sonoran Desert
has to offer. From jaw-dropping views and rugged natural beauty to exceptional
conditioning and the finest guest service in the business, The Raven has it
all. Verrrado’s mountainside setting features massive rock out croppings, large
desert washes, intimate box canyons, and considerable elevation change (from
1,100 to 3,600 square feet). A very mature landscape palette was created by
replanting more than 2,000 mature native trees on the course, along with
numerous saguaro cacti and other natural desert vegetation.
The 2nd hole exemplifies the exceptional topography upon which the course is
built. This par 4 runs along a rugged hillside with lovely long-range views of
the Valley of the Sun as its backdrop. The hole plays uphill and dares you to
hit driver off the tee. However, one must weigh the risks and rewards in doing
so. A large collection bunker guards the right side of the fairway at the very
start of the landing area. Big hitters can attempt to rip it past the bunker,
but it’s a carry at least 260 yards from the back tees. The smart players
usually lay up short of the bunker as a seemingly “safe” tee shot to the left
may put players’ scores at even greater peril. What looks like desert shrubs
from the tee are actually the tops of some rather large trees growing at the
bottom of a huge ravine, about 60 feet deep. The ravine cuts sharply into the
fairway from the left just past the bunker, and the fairway runs right up to
its edge. In either case, the second shot will be a daunting uphill approach
into a shallow green that perched on top of a ridge line. The green has a
severe false front, meaning anything short will come rolling back down the
fairway. Being long is even worse. Directly behind the green is a sheer cliff
with nothing to stop a golf ball except the clean desert air.
When you finish your round you will realize you just had a great round of golf
with 18 unique holes that were a blast to play and challenged you with all the
elements - desert, water, sand, cacti, trees, elevation changes, and massive
rock formations. The entire time you were also spoiled with all the amenities
and service a private country club would offer. To complete a magnificent day
go have a drink with a wonderful meal, and enjoy all the comforts of home that
The Raven at Verrado will give you.
Signature hole: Every hole at The Raven is unique and has its own personality.
If you asked 10 people which hole is the signature hole you might get 10
different answers and 10 different reasons why they feel that hole is the
signature hole. From the spectacular and challenging 2nd hole to the unique 8th
hole where there is a huge rock formation (mountain-like) on the left side and
the best shot is to drive the ball over this natural, yet massive land feature
and cut the angle to the green, to the finishing hole on the front nine where
water swallows up many approaches to the green, and then some dramatic elevated
holes on the back nine. However, we have chosen the fabulous finishing hole as
the signature hole. So save your best drive for last because you will need it.
The 494 yard (from the tips) par 4, finishing hole, plays downhill and straight
toward the clubhouse, with panoramic views of the valley and a rare eastern
exposed glimpse of the Phoenix and Scottsdale skyline. Par is an excellent
score as this daunting par 4 that plays like a par 5 can jeopardize any
friendly wager between friends. The tee shot requires at least a 240 yard drive
to carry a bunker on the right side, but there’s plenty of room to the left for
those who can’t quite make that distance. From the landing area, the fairway is
15 feet higher than the green. The severe slope means that even approach shots
that land short could roll to the green. Players need a dose of caution, as
there’s a beautiful lake that snakes along the righthand side of the green, and
a couple of large bunkers to the left. The lake adds both beauty and challenge
to the hole. It features a stone bridge, reminiscent of the famed Swilcan
Bridge at St. Andrews in Scotland, and a cascading waterfall. The sound of the
water creates a soothing environment that might even help calm the nerves of
players trying to putt out with final strokes on the line.
Other Information - The Raven At Verrado
Practice Facilities: A driving range, large putting green, and a separate
chipping green with sand trap bunkers are kept in immaculate condition. Range
balls are included.
19th Hole: Among the many amenities are Cocina, a stand along American
bistro-style restaurant, providing a casually elegant dining experience for
residents and guests; a full-service bar, covered terraces, arcades and an
event lawn for special events, parties. Enjoy great service from the cart girl.
Clubhouse: The Clubhouse itself is reminiscent of a grand hacienda from
Arizona’s territorial period and exudes a charm that transcends the centuries
of Southwestern hospitality. Through ingenious use of indoor and outdoor living
spaces, the clubhouse creates an inviting open air environment. It features an
elegantly appointed golf shop, and private board rooms and meeting facilities,
enabling guests to mix business with pleasure.
Awards: Golf Magazine – Top 10 new courses you can play. Sports
Illustrated – Number 1 course you can play in Phoenix.
Tournament: Hosted Stroke Play Championship 2004
Designer: John Fought and Tom Lehman
General Manager: Jeff Perry
Director of Sales: Doug Foss
Head Golf Pro: Brad Petrick
Superintendent: Bill Zeglin
Grass type: In the winter: Rye grass fairways. Poativ greens. In the
summer: Bermuda greens and fairways
Recommended handicap: From the tips, it stretches nearly 7,300 yards and
gives the accomplished player a rigorous test of golf. But Fought and Lehman
put four tee boxes on each hole, giving players of all abilities a fair chance
at par. In fact the forward tees on each hole connects with the fairway, taking
all forced carries out of the equation. Any level golfer will enjoy the
playability while still be challenged by the great layout.
1 -10 Course Rating by Meridian’s Golf Specialists: 9
Comments by Meridian Guests:
- “I enjoyed the layout. There were so many different types of holes that
presented unique challenges. I could play it many times and not get bored.”
“Lots of risk to reward holes.” “Service, Service, Service. We were never
treated so well, except by the staff at Meridian, of course.”
- “They built the course into the landscape. I found myself completely at
peace while soaking up sunshine and becoming completely engulfed in the round
of golf.” “Just an overall fun and rewarding experience.” “Worth the drive,
enjoyed the practice facility, clubhouse, restaurant, service, and just loved
the layout.” “We played 36 holes – The first 18 ate us up because we played
from the tips, then we got smart and had a great time when we moved up a tee
box and really enjoyed the course.”
- “Our group was very skeptical to play because we did not like the other
Raven course (South Mountain), but this layout was 100 times nicer and we had a
great time.” “When you factor in the service it is a premium plus caliber
The Drive: It is a little bit of a hike to the west side of town, but the
golf course is only a few minutes off the highway. It is a quick 45 minute
drive and worth the trip.