The Raven at Three Peaks - Detail
This writeup was done from the silver tees.
The first hole is a pretty steep downhill dogleg to the left around a stand of trees. There's nothing deceiving about this hole, and don't kid yourself about your ability to cut the corner because of the high altitude (high risk, low reward). Hit your first shot down the middle. If you actually do crush it and hit it over three hundred yards, the downslope will probably kick you in the right direction. Because it is downhill and at high altitude, you don't really need to go after this one. Keep it in the middle!
The second hole is a 546 yard par 5 to an elevated green. Hit your first shot down the left half of the fairway to set up an easy second shot in front of the hill to the green. This lets you land a soft wedge shot to whereever the pin happens to be. Pay attention to pin location -- the greens are sectioned into four quadrants, and there's a big ridge in the middle of this green.
Number 3 is a fairly long hole with a fairly sharp dogleg to the right. Stay the heck away from all those bunkers on the right -- you're far better off playing a mid or long iron into this green than having to blast out of one of those bunkers before making your approach with your third shot!
The fourth hole is a par 3 that is postcard picturesque. A pond fronts the green along with bunkers left and right, meaning you almost have to land an aerial shot on the green since the bump and runs are effectively barred. Pay really close attention to pin placement here because all four quadrants basically play like different greens.
#5 is a short par 4. At 314 yards, you could possibly reach it because of the thin air. However, if this is your strategy, accuracy is at a premium because of the veritable blizzard of fairway bunkers that come into play. There are lots of undulations on the green to worry about too.
#6 is a par 5. I played it as a three shot hole, although big hitters might be able to get there in two. Check your yardage book for the far bunker down the middle -- 300 yards will reach it, unless you hit a perfect draw. Fortunately, while I don't have the "perfect draw" shot, I also don't tend to hit it 300 yards. Anyway, on your second shot, there's a bunker in the very middle of the fairway that you either have to fly over or miss, and then this hole can be had.
#7 sets up like a button-hook. The fairway looks spacious and wide, but there's no green at the end of it, because the green is set off to the left, guarded by a bunker system. Hit a driver, or a solid three wood down the left side of the fairway to set up a short wedge into the green.
#8 is a short par 3 from a sharply elevated tee. While you start out worried about getting a nosebleed up here, pretty soon you start to get drawn in by the challenge below. There's a creek running across the front, and there's a huge drop off on the left into a bunker. I eventually started looking for the miss. The best miss is to the right, since the hill will catch you, but short isn't good (the creek), left isn't good (the drop off), long isn't good (the woods). Right isn't great because you have a chip off a steep downhill lie... The best thing to do is hit the green. Depending upon how good you hit the ball, you want to use at least one club less than the distance would otherwise indicate. Beautiful hole!
Speaking of beautiful... #9 is a long par 4 that spills down the hill. You're going to feel manly after your tee shot, because it's going to go a long ways. The trick, of course, is to hit it straight. If you can land it someplace in the fairway, you're going to have a short iron left into the green. If it doesn't land in the fairway, this is one of those places where you probably aren't going to find it. Stay away from the water on your approach shot.
The tenth hole is uphill on the other side of the clubhouse. It plays across a huge swale to an elevated green. Tee it high, and let it fly, and however far up the hill you get on the other side, remember to take at least one more club for your approach shot because of the remaining hill that's left. This is a very deep green, so gauge the pin's location when you come in.
#11 is one of the prettiest (and most challenging) holes on the course, which is saying quite a bit, given the scenery everywhere. The fairway looks like it ends at a lake from the teebox. Hit it straight at the lake, which is about 323 yards away. On your second shot, you'll hit it to the fairway which is on the left side of that lake. You want two pretty good shots to set up a short iron back over the lake to the green. I executed two perfect shots, and then skulled my short iron over the green into the weeds. Drat!
#12 is a longish 216 yard par 3. You can miss it a little bit short, but not too much because there's a chasm to cross. This is very deep green, maybe 35-40 yards, so pay attention to pin placement.
#13 is a difficult hole, mostly because it's uphill. There are bunkers waiting to catch errant shots to the left, so favor the middle or right side of the fairway. Lots of bunkers long at the green, so don't get too frisky on the approach.
The fourteenth hole is another longish par 3 (200 yards). This one has more trouble, with water on the left, and a swampland short. The bunkers will catch a shot to the right, although that's certainly not the worst thing that can happen to you!
#15 demands a bit of skill and precision, although not a lot of length. At 369 yards, it's only moderate length, but it has a whole bunch of "interest" near the green, with a creek and a couple of bunkers. Play a 230 yard shot just left of the second set of bunkers, and that will set up a mid iron shot into the green, which should give you a good chance to clear the junk on your approach shot. According to the scorecard, this is the easiest hole on the course. I don't buy it.
#16 is a 554 yard par 5. The good news is that it's downhill, and even I was able to reach it (almost) in two, after a really nice fading drive which got a downhill kick and left only 215 yards down the hill to the green. Fun hole.
The seventeenth is an uphill par 4. I got too close to the left edge (by mistake) and rolled into a penal fairway bunker (needs a sand wedge to get out). The approach to the green is intimidating because a) there's a creek to clear in close (not really in play, but it gets in your yead), b) bunkers left and right of the green, and c) it's still uphill. There's some room to hit it long, which I recommend over landing in a bunker, so take plenty of club.
The home hole is uphill all the way. An accurate tee shot (one that lands in the fairway) is rewarded by having an unobstructed approach to the green. The hole is not terribly long (363 yards), but again, it is uphill. By the way, turn around and look behind at the black tees. They're still back across the road, a good 80 yards behind the silvers.
When you're done with the round, the course leaves you at the top of a hill that's nowhere near the clubhouse. Take it easy coming down from the top, it's really steep! This is a great course. The tees make it accessible to pretty much any level of player. I managed to keep it under bogey golf, despite getting three doubles in a row to start with.