Raven Golf Club At Sandestin Review

Texas Outside Rating: 9.3

Golf - Resort Public Course · 18 Holes · Par 71
Sandestin, FL
Website
Date Last Played: March 17, 2012

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Raven Golf Club At Sandestin Review

Review of Raven Golf Club at Sandestin

Carved through the marshes, wetlands, and pines and meandering through the 2400 acre Sandestin Golf & Beach Resort, which was rated #1 Resort in Florida by Emerald Coast Magazine, Raven Golf Club offers not only scenic beauty but a memorable layout that is both challenging and fun.  

Raven is one of four courses on the Sandestin Golf & Beach Resort Property and each course has it's own unique characteristics and personality, for example:

  • the award winning Burnt Pine is the premier course (private with limited public and resort play available) at Sandestin and is home to perfect conditions, smooth putting surfaces, rolling fairways, strategically placed bunkers, and some outstanding holes - read our review of Burnt Pine Golf Club to learn more about why we loved this course
  • Baytowne Golf Club has wide open forgiving fairways and big greens - regarded as the easiest of the four courses it is a fairly typical and straightforward resort course that is playable by all levels
  • The Links Course, designed by Tom Jackson, not only provides some spectacular views of the Emerald Coast with 5 holes playing along the Choctawhatchee Bay but offers some outstanding risk reward opportunities and puts a premium on your tee shot and as such is regarding as the most challenging of the four courses as Sandestin

Raven Golf Club is a masterfully designed Robert Trent Jones, Jr. course which is a short (4 sets of tee boxes with yardages of 5106 to 6931 yards) par 71 layout but no walk in the park.   Every hole offers  something that will require some course management or shot making skills if you want your fellow golfers to buy your drinks at the 19th hole.  You'll find water on 14 holes, rolling contoured fairways several of which have a severe slope to the lake, challenging putting surfaces, dog legs left and right, strategically placed bunkers, risk reward opportunities, forced carries, and challenging approach shots.

The front is fantastic with some great holes but the back was even better from our perspective.  The back seemed more difficult with some demanding holes, a little tighter fairways and smaller greens - giving it more character and very interesting to play.  Both nines put a premium on putting if you want to score well - the greens are fast and have lots of slope, undulation, ridges, and very subtle breaks.  

Some of what you can expect when you play Raven Golf Club at Sandestin include:   

  • #2 is a 460 yard dog leg left par four that offers a great risk reward tee shot to try and fly the trees and two big bunkers on the left side - but you also need to make sure you don't overrun the fairway or you're wet or covered with sand
  • each of the par 3s are fun and have a variety of intimidating carries over water or natural areas to greens with little room for error including the 203 yard island green - the majority of the par 3s are short but demanding 
  • #7 is a blast - a 631 yard dog leg left par 5 with a risk reward tee shot to carry more of the lake and two multi-fingered bunkers and trees; then a demanding 2nd shot to avoid trees on the right and two huge bunkers just before the fairway narrows and turns right requiring a precise shot to a green tucked back to the left - every shot needs to be precise to par or better this hole
  • strategically placed bunkers on the back nine force you to use some good course management, risk taking, and club selection skills to par the hole - for example, #10 has 7 bunkers guarding the green or #15 has three huge bunkers splitting the fairway requiring you to try and fly them, play left to a narrow landing zone with water on the left, or try the somewhat wider but longer right side of the fairway
  • 17 and 18 will make you remember this nine and you'll be anxious to get back and play it again - water, big long bunkers, risk reward shots, tough approaches, and challenging greens make these two holes some of the best in Florida

Everything at Raven Golf Club is very well maintained and manicured and the landscaping on the course and around most of the homes is stunning and very colorful.  When we played, the Raven Golf Club fairways were in excellent condition as were the wide and playable roughs.  The fairways range from wide open let-er-rip to you best think about leaving the big dog in the bag.  All the fairways are rolling and contoured and have some combination of strategically placed bunkers, water, swales, mounds, slope to the water, or trees.  Some are lined with huge beautiful homes that could come into play if you spray the ball.  

Spend some time on the putting green before you head out, the greens are very demanding and they are all shapes and sizes from skinny oblongs to heart shapped.  Not only are they well protected with a little bit of everything (water, trees, sand, swales, or mounds) requiring a precise approach shot, they are fast and have plenty of undulation, slope, and contour.  The breaks are subtle and you should do a 360 walk-around before you putt.  The good news is the speed is great, they run smooth and true, and hold the ball well.

The Raven Golf Club bunkers are devils and range from small steep faced pot bunkers to some long multi-fingered monsters.  Robert Trent Jones, Jr. did a great job of putting them right where my ball wanted to go.  The good news is they are very well maintained and in perfect condition with soft thick sand.

If you are headed to this area to play golf and enjoy the pure white sand beaches, attractions, good restaurants, and fun nightlife, then you should consider staying at Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort.  They have 30 charming neighborhoods with 1300 condos, villas, and town homes plus a wide variety of hotel options and some excellent stay and play packages.  And the Resort has 7 miles of sugar white beaches, pristine bay front, a large marina, children's programs, fitness center and spa, boutique shops, casual and fine dining, and good nightlife.  And you can play 4 fantastic courses - just can't get much better than all that! 

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Course Slope & Ratings

Tee Box Yardage Rating Slope
Gold 6,875 73.8 137
Blue 6,300 71.5 135
White 5,823 68.4 128
Red 5,060 70.6 126

Course Information

Course Architect:
Robert Trent Jones, Jr.
Greens Type:
TIF Eagle
Greens Condition
9.3
Greens Difficulty
9.5
Fairway Condition
9.0
Bunker Condition
10.0
GPS:
No
Walkable:
Yes
Scorecard
Course Map
Beware of water on 14 holes and the 65 sand traps.

Texas Outside Rating

Overall Rating:
9.3 out of 10
Beauty:
8.8
Difficulty:
9.0
Variety:
9.5
Fun to Play:
10.0
Value:
9.0
Condition:
9.5
Front Nine Rating:
9.0
Back Nine Rating:
9.4
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FEES & AMENITIES

Approximate Weekend
Rates:
$65.00 to $115.00

Service is good, the practice facilities are excellent, and the pro shop is well stocked.

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Here's How Texas Outside Determines the Scorecard Rating

The Texas Outside rating scale ranges from 1 to 10 – a perfect 10 course would be something like this:  links along a cliff overlooking the Pacific ocean and bordered by tall trees; lush fairways on rolling hills with lots of natural hazards; water (which is crystal clear) on most of the holes; immaculate greens (but they are undulating and tough); lots of variety and character (each hole is completely different and includes blind shots, elevation changes, doglegs, and significant challenges); perfectly manicured traps with the whitest and prettiest sand you’ve ever seen; a nice club house with great food and a 19th hole; a GPS; plenty of beverage carts or your own cooler and ice; and it only costs $40 bucks! What this means is that you probably won’t find any 10s in Texas – try Cabo San Lucas, Pebble Beach, or some of the Hawaii courses! 
Texas Outside rates courses on the following:

  • Beauty – tall trees, rolling hills, beautiful houses, waterfalls, and similar stuff would score high; a 1 would be flat, bushes or cactus instead of trees, and some grass but mostly weeds
  • Difficulty – a straight, 300 yard par 4 with no traps or hazards, no out of bounds or water would probably get a 1; if it is a 460 yard par 4 over two ravines, with water along one side, natural hazards on the other, strategically placed traps or that dreaded tree right in the middle of the fairway, we are talking a 10. 
  • Variety – what would you give a course where all the holes looked and played exactly the same (“I thought we just played that hole!”); were side-by-side, which is good for finding or dodging other people’s balls, but not much fun; and you can see the flag from every tee box?  That’s right, it gets a 1.
  • Fun Scale – a 10 is where you walk off the course and say “now that was fun” and you can’t wait to get back, or you immediately turn around and play another 18 holes
  • Value – a 5 is $50 to $60, a 10 is $20 to $30, and 1 is $200 or so – of course all of this is dependent upon how you liked the course.  For example, if a run down, boring municipal course, with six players on each hole was only $10; it would still get a value rating of 1.
  • Condition – this one’s pretty easy – what condition are the fairways. A 10 commands very lush perfectly manicured fairways, compared to a 1, which has fire ants, weeds, and more dirt than grass!
  • Condition of Greens and Difficulty – very hard to read greens with lots of undulation and tough pin placement, rate very high on the difficulty scale.  Condition is self-explanatory.  

All of the above determines the overall score for the golf course.  In other words, we like courses that are pretty, fun, very challenging with a lot of variety, and fairways and greens in excellent condition – all for $40.  We also tend to play the courses that are affordable for the masses, which means in the $30 to $80 range. We rate hard and we haven’t found a 10 in Texas yet – don’t worry we haven’t given up and we’re still looking. 

 

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