You can see for miles at Raven Golf Club at Verrado west of Phoenix

By Travel ArticlesNovember 15, 2012, 5:00 am

BUCKEYE, Ariz. -- Like every other course on the west side of the Valley of the Sun, the staff at Raven Golf Club at Verrado spends a lot of time telling golfers it's not that far from Phoenix.

And then, they can show them.

'There's no other golf course in the valley that has the same easterly view as we have,' said Doug Foss, the longtime manager of sales and marketing and an enthusiastic ambassador for the 7,258-yard setup. 'There's a bunch of other golf courses way on the east side that look back to the west, but we're the only golf course on this side that enjoys those kind of views.

'From the third tee-box, you can see all the way downtown. You can see Cardinal Stadium. You can see, on a good clear day, all the way to Four Peaks mountains way out on the east side of town. And then on the 13th green and 14th tee-box, which is the highest point on the golf course, you can see forever. It's awesome.'

For those keeping track, it takes about 35 minutes to put Phoenix in the rear view mirror en route to the Raven Golf Club at Verrado and approximately the same amount of time -- or even a few minutes less, if you keep your ball on the short stuff -- to climb up to the third tee and catch another glimpse of the downtown skyline.

Raven Golf Club at Verrado: The course

Opened in 2004, the Raven at Verrado is the centerpiece of an 8,800-acre community at the base of the White Tank Mountains. This topsy-turvy tract of land was once owned by Caterpillar and used as proving grounds for bulldozers, scrapers and other pieces of machinery.

The last men to move earth on the site were co-designers John Fought and 1996 British Open champion Tom Lehman, and the finished product has earned all sorts of accolades, including a spot on the best-in-state list from almost every major golf publication.

In Arizona, that's saying something. It's a challenge just getting raters out of Scottsdale to the Raven at Verrado, where the only traffic you'll hear is the occasional roar of F-16s from nearby Luke Air Force Base.

'We're their final approach pattern, so they have to come right over us,' Foss said. 'Especially for folks who don't play here a lot, it's a cool effect, because you don't really get to see fighter jets that close on a regular basis.'

The first F-16 might startle you as it zips across the sky, but the battleground below doesn't have to be so scary.

On the 397-yard second hole, which might be the best on the property, golfers can choose between a knee-knocking approach over a ravine or a risk-free bailout just right of the putting surface.

On the 477-yard eighth assignment, marked by a massive rock outcropping that survived the Caterpillar era, the landing area isn't nearly as far off as it might seem from the tee.

Even the 154-yard 17th hole, with water guarding the right side of the dance-floor, has an alternate route for high-handicappers or folks with a limited amount of ammo in their bag.

'Although it's a desert layout, it doesn't really play like a desert golf course,' Foss said. 'Sometimes, I think people get a little scared or put off by the term 'desert golf,' because they think you have to hit a perfect shot every time. When Tom Lehman designed the place -- because he really loves the British Open feel and being able to hit different types of shots and that includes running the ball up -- he wanted to give people an opportunity to do that.'

There is a full practice area at Raven at Verrado, and instruction is available.

Raven Golf Club at Verrado: The verdict

If you have a thick wallet or a fat bank account, there's probably no reason to leave Scottsdale city limits on your Arizona golf getaway. If value is important, though, Raven Golf Club at Verrado should be on your list of must-plays.

Unless it's prime time in peak season, you'll probably need to purchase a hat, a glove or a sleeve of balls to coax your pro-shop receipt into triple digits.

And what about the cost of fuel for your commute to this picturesque part of the valley? Shouldn't be an issue, as long as your rental vehicle isn't an 18-wheeler.

'Especially for people who have never been here before, the comment usually is, 'It certainly is worth the drive, and -- you know what? -- the drive wasn't nearly as bad as I thought it was going to be,'' Foss said.

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Hadwin returns to site of last year's 59

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 11:04 pm

Adam Hadwin had a career season last year, one that included shooting a 59 and winning a PGA Tour event. But those two achievements didn't occur in the same week.

While Hadwin's breakthrough victory came at the Valspar Championship in March, it was at the CareerBuilder Challenge in January when he first made headlines with a third-round 59 at La Quinta Country Club. Hadwin took a lead into the final round as a result, but he ultimately couldn't keep pace with Hudson Swafford.

He went on to earn a spot at the Tour Championship, and Hadwin made his first career Presidents Cup appearance in October. Now the Canadian returns to Palm Springs, eager to improve on last year's result and hoping to earn a spot in the final group for a third straight year after a T-6 finish in 2016.

"A lot of good memories here in the desert," Hadwin told reporters. "I feel very comfortable here, very at home. Lots of Canadians, so it's always fun to play well in front of those crowds and hopefully looking forward to another good week."

Hadwin's 59 last year was somewhat overshadowed, both by the fact that he didn't win the event and that it came just one week after Justin Thomas shot a 59 en route to victory at the Sony Open. But he's still among an exclusive club of just eight players to have broken 60 in competition on Tour and he's eager to get another crack at La Quinta on Saturday.

"If I'm in the same position on 18, I'm gunning for 58 this year," Hadwin said, "not playing safe for 59."

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Rahm: If I thought like Phil, I could not hit a shot

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 10:39 pm

When it comes to Jon Rahm and Phil Mickelson, there are plenty of common bonds. Both starred at Arizona State, both are now repped by the same agency and Rahm's former college coach and agent, Tim Mickelson, now serves full-time as his brother's caddie.

Those commonalities mean the two men have played plenty of practice rounds together, but the roads quickly diverge when it comes to on-course behavior. Rahm is quick, fiery and decisive; Mickelson is one of the most analytical players on Tour. And as Rahm told reporters Wednesday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, those differences won't end anytime soon.

"I don't need much. 'OK, it's like 120 (yards), this shot, right," Rahm said. "And then you have Phil, it's like, 'Oh, this shot, the moisture, this going on, this is like one mile an hour wind sideways, it's going to affect it one yard. This green is soft, this trajectory. They're thinking, and I'm like, 'I'm lost.' I'm like, 'God if I do that thought process, I could not hit a golf shot.'"

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

The tactics may be more simplified, but Rahm can't argue with the results. While Mickelson is in the midst of a winless drought that is approaching five years, Rahm won three times around the world last year and will defend a PGA Tour title for the first time next week at Torrey Pines.

Both men are in the field this week in Palm Springs, where Mickelson will make his 2018 debut with what Rahm fully expects to be another dose of high-level analytics for the five-time major winner with his brother on the bag.

"It's funny, he gets to the green and then it's the same thing. He's very detail-oriented," Rahm said of Mickelson. "I'm there listening and I'm like, 'Man, I hope we're never paired together for anything because I can't think like this. I would not be able to play golf like that. But for me to listen to all that is really fun."

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DJ changes tune on golf ball distance debate

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 9:16 pm

World No. 1 Dustin Johnson is already one of the longest hitters in golf, so he's not looking for any changes to be made to golf ball technology - despite comments from him that hinted at just such a notion two months ago.

Johnson is in the Middle East this week for the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, and he told BBC Sport Wednesday that he wouldn't be in favor of making changes to the golf ball in order to remedy some of the eye-popping distances players are hitting the ball with ever-increasing frequency.

"It's not like we are dominating golf courses," Johnson said. "When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy? I don't really understand what all the debate is about because it doesn't matter how far it goes; it is about getting it in the hole."

Johnson's rhetorical question might be answered simply by looking back at his performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions earlier this month, an eight-shot romp that featured a tee shot on the 433-yard 12th hole that bounded down a slope to within inches of the hole.

Johnson appeared much more willing to consider a reduced-distance ball option at the Hero World Challenge in November, when he sat next to tournament host Tiger Woods and supported Woods' notion that the ball should be addressed.

"I don't mind seeing every other professional sport, they play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball," Johnson said. "In baseball, the guys that are bigger and stronger, they can hit a baseball a lot further than the smaller guys. ... I think there should be some kind of an advantage for guys who work on hitting it far and getting that speed that's needed, so having a ball, like the same ball that everyone plays, there's going to be, you're going to have more of an advantage."

Speaking Wednesday in Abu Dhabi, Johnson stood by the notion that regardless of whether the rules change or stay the same, he plans to have a leg up on the competition.

"If the ball is limited then it is going to limit everyone," he said. "I'm still going to hit it that much further than I guess the average Tour player."

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LPGA lists April date for new LA event

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 17, 2018, 8:18 pm

The LPGA’s return to Los Angeles will come with the new Hugel-JTBC Open being played at Wilshire Country Club April 19-22, the tour announced Wednesday.

When the LPGA originally released its schedule, it listed the Los Angeles event with the site to be announced at a later date.

The Hugel-JTBC Open will feature a 144-player field and a $1.5 million purse. It expands the tour’s West Coast swing, which will now be made up of four events in California in March and April.

The LPGA last played in Los Angeles in 2005. Wilshire Country Club hosted The Office Depot in 2001, with Annika Sorenstam winning there.