TODAY'S SPORTS

Golfing in the Valley: Mountain Marvel - The Raven Golf Club at Snowshoe Resort


SNOWSHOE, WV — The typical golf season at the Raven Golf Club that sits in the shadows of Snowshoe Ski Resort generally runs from early May to early October.

That's just a little under six months to tee it up at one of the best public golf courses in West Virginia.

Tucked away in the hills of wild, wonderful West Va. in Pocahontas County, this masterful Gary Player design is well worth the long, winding and arduous journey it takes to find it.

Originally opened as Hawthorne Valley in 1993, the course was renamed the Raven wish Intrawest Corporation's Raven Group purchased the property.

Seemingly located in the middle of nowhere, the Raven alone is worth the trek, but adding in the many amenities that include, restaurants, pubs, shopping and of course the skiing in season, there is never a dull moment at Snowshoe.

Snowshoe is one of the largest ski resorts in the Mid-Atlantic and at 4,848 feet, also one of the tallest.

The Raven is situated at the bottom of the ski resort and was carved through the wooded hills of Cheat Mountain.

But the Raven is not like a lot of other mountain golf courses. A lot of the fairways are flat and there are plenty of hilly moguls lining them to help steer the ball back into play.

Only the truly god-awful tee shots are gobbled up by the dense forest.

Another feature Player incorporated into the design was that most of the gnarly deep drop-offs of the mountain course are located to the left. Not good for you duck hookers out there, but as most golfers hit a slice to the right, this set up helps the pace of play and makes the round much more enjoyable.

The Raven plays to a par 72 at 7,045 yards from the back tees and offers up five sets of tees so golfers of any caliber can enjoy this true test.

A familiar and friendly face to many local golfers is now the general manager of the Raven.

Miles Loughlan, formerly the head PGA professional at Shenandoah Valley Golf Club in Rockland, began his duties the Raven last fall.

Miles is more than happy to enhance your visit to Snowshoe Mountain and the Raven.

Obviously, the Raven offers up majestic scenery as well as dramatic elevation changes.

Elevated tees on many hole offer up stunning vistas and dramatic beauty to be devoured by golfers of all levels at the Raven.

The course opens with a 557-yard par five that plays gradually downhill with the above fore-mentioned moguls lining the right side of the fairway.

The second shot must carry a stream bed to a plateau as the approach plummets to a well guarded green.

The 433-yard par 4 fourth offers up one of the most dramatic tee shots of the day.

The tee is located on a bluff over 200 feet above the well-bunkered fairway down below.

The fourth is a true stunner and a perfect opportunity for a photo-opp.

The 420-yard par 4 seventh has to be mentioned - maybe because I made birdie here - but the hole is far from a push over. I admit I got lucky.

The tee shot must be straight with little room for error, but it's the approach shot to a narrow and deep green that must be executed to perfection.

Waste area that climbs a steep hill guards the left and front bunker that is backed by deep ravine protects the right side. Miss there and it's a penalty shot.

The 363-yard par 4 ninth is another candidate for signature hole at the Raven.

The tee is located one again high above the fairway on a tiny bluff.

The ninth features a double-green with an intimidating gorge and stream protecting the entire right side and the front of the left green.

The safe shot is a fairway medal to the fairway and a wedge in, but some of the big hitters may want to give the green a go, especially if the right side of the double green is where the flag is located.

The back nine is considered the tougher of the two nines at the Raven, playing nearly 200 yards longer from the tips.

The 445-yard par 3 11th is a tight driving hole with plenty of trouble on the right. The approach shot must carry a gully to a tough green with a diagonal tier.

The 200-yard par 3 12th is played from an elevated tee to another narrow and deep green that is guarded by a small pond just off the left of the putting surfae.

The 548-yard par 5 13th is a true tactical gem that Golf Digest once included in one of its "Top 18 Holes" collections.

The long hitter will be tempted to go for it in two in the is dogleg left that is guarded by a large lake.

During my visit to the Raven the heavy rains that ravished this area of West Va. during the third week of June took it's toll on the resort.

Not nearly as bad as their neighbors just south at the Greenbrier, several bridges were flooded out and a piece of the highway leading to the resort was washed away.

But the Raven held up and was ready to play later the next day.

If you love mountain golf, then be sure to visit Snowshoe Resort and take in the Raven.

It's mountain golf like you haven't seen before and well worth the trip down those two-lane mountain roads.



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