Course Name: Ravenwood Golf Club
Designer: Robin Nelson (2003)
Location: Victor, New York
History: Ravenwood Golf Club opened in 2003 and immediately became one of the best public courses in upstate New York. Host of a U.S. Open Qualifier and two New York State Amateurs (2003, 2009), Ravenwood has earned the following accolade:
- #76 Best Course in New York – Top100golfcourses.com (2020)
Conditions: 8/10, Ravenwood is in great shape with speedy bentgrass greens, thick, healthy rough and well-maintained bunkers and fairways.
Value: 7/10, As with most things in upstate New York, Ravenwood offers strong value at $75 to ride at peak season and better discounts for walkers and off-peak times.
Tee Par Yardage Rating Slope
Burgundy 72 7083 74.7 144
Black 72 6642 71.8 137
Blue 72 6190 69.3 126
Silver 72 5635 66.9 120
Gold 72 4906 68.9 122
Hole Descriptions: I have family in the Rochester area and have always been impressed by the quality of golf in the region. Whether it’s the munis (Durand Eastman) or elite privates (Monroe, Oak Hill), there’s a strong variety of excellent offerings in an area where the season isn’t exactly long. Ravenwood is another fine course, and in my opinion the strongest of the upscale public courses surrouding Rochester. With a strong layout on the rolling upstate terrain, this well-conditioned course features a veritable challenge and several good holes. While the course doesn’t stand out on a national stage for me, this is a course that all those in the region should be proud of and one I would recommend to all visitors to the area looking for a game.
The opening hole begins the round as a gentle downhill 377 yard par 4. A slight dogleg left, this hole is very inviting besides a bunker down the right at 215 yards. This back-to-front sloped green favors an approach from the left with bunkers left and short right.
At just 296 yards, the 2nd hole is an excellent short par 4 and one of the standout holes at Ravenwood. An interesting dogleg right, this drivable par 4 requires the golfer to take a leap of faith as this teeshot plays uphill over a blind plateau. Laying up is tricky with a giant bunker down the right at 200 yards and two smaller ones down the left that shouldn’t be in play. Ravenwood catches some flak for having uninspired greens (deservedly), but the 2nd is definitely an aberration with a fascinating shallow design that slopes left-to-right with a false front swale on the left. This green is an elusive target for those with driver with an excellent Lion’s Mouth bunker short and two bunkers and a drop-off long.
The 3rd hole is a classic 389 yard Cape hole with an initially wide fairway that narrows progressively with water down the left. This approach is a difficult one to a shallow green at an awkward angle guarded by three bunkers short.
At 182 yards, the 4th hole is the first par 3 at Ravenwood. Playing slightly uphill over a forced carry to a large, this one-shotter features a receptive green guarded by bunkers on either side.
The number 1 handicap 5th hole is the longest par 4 at 412 yards and plays even tougher straight uphill. This teeshot is somewhat blind to a fairway lined by fescue left and a series of bunkers and trees down the right. This approach continues uphill to an elevated, back-to-front sloped green guarded by two bunkers short. A bogey does not ruin a round on this difficult hole.
At just 474 yards, the 6th hole is the shortest par 5 at Ravenwood and also plays downhill, enhancing its reachability for even the average player. Running alongside I-90, this is the loudest hole on a course but the designer deserves credit for making the distraction only occur on one long hole, rather than multiple shorter ones. This is an interesting par 5 with a relatively generous fairway guarded by rough and bunkers down the right at just 160 yards. Tall trees line the left side of a narrowed fairway in the lay-up area, however, so it’s imperative to aim down the right side for a markedly easier second shot. This flat green is relatively small and lined by a large bunker short left that isn’t placed too well considering not many players attack this green from the left.
There are several short par fours at Ravenwood but the 7th is the shortest at 292 yards. With a teeshot through a chute of trees, this hole features a tight fairway for the first 200 yards with three large bunkers down the left followed by a very generous fairway. This green is slightly elevated guarded by a deep bunker right. There is not enough risk to justify laying up here in my opinion.
The 8th hole is another short hole as the shortest par 3 at just 130 yards. This is a pretty one-shotter with a forced carry the entire way to a shallow green lined by tiny bunkers short and long. This green slopes back right-to-front left and makes for some difficult putts.
The 9th hole is one of the best holes on the course as a strong 500 yard par 5. Featuring a beautiful downhill teeshot, this sharp dogleg left contains a trio of bunkers on the inside of the dogleg at 210 yards. From here, this fairway turns uphill with a bunker on the left side of the lay-up area and severely elevated green lined by bunkers short right. This green is relatively receptive and flat, but it takes two mighty blows to reach in two with its elevation.
The back 9 commences with the most boring stretch at Ravenwood with three fairly bland holes to start. The 10th hole is a 383 yard straightaway downhill par 4 with a bunker down the right at 200 yards. This approach plays back uphill to a green lined by a bunker right and false front short.
The 330 yard par 4 11th is probably the least interesting hole on the course as a flat, straightaway par 4. This hole is characterized by a progressively narrowing fairway and several large bunkers down the right beginning at 200 yards. A receptive, relatively large green is lined by bunkers on either side.
At 545 yards, the par 5 12th hole is the longest hole at Ravenwood and plays even longer uphill the entire way. Golfers can be aggressive off this tee with a wide fairway and little danger. For the final 130 yards, this lay-up area narrows with a series of five large bunkers down the left. This large, back-to-front sloped green is defended by bunkers short and left.
The 13th hole is one of the stronger holes on the course as a downhill 402 yard par 4. Two large bunkers down the right around 230 yards and trees on either side defend a wide fairway. This is a fun approach to an undulating island green surrounded by rough.
The 138 yard par 3 14th is a nice hole, but feels a bit artificial playing completely level over a man-made pond. With no room to be short and bunkers long and left, the golfer needs to be accurate with their short iron here to find this shallow, back-to-front sloped green.
The 15th hole is one of the more difficult holes on the course as a 374 dogleg left par 4. This hole features somewhat of an awkward teeshot with thick trees down the left that force you to play a draw around the corner. This approach plays one club longer uphill to a large green guarded by bunkers on either side.
At just 300 yards, the 16th hole is the final short par 4 playing straightaway uphill. Featuring a lengthy 180 yard carry over marshland, a lay-up is often more risky than hitting wood here. This green sits on a pedestal with a large left bunker.
The final two holes at Ravenwood are excellent with the best par 3 and par 5, respectively. At 176 yards, the 17th is a beautiful one-shotter playing downhill over water to a back-to-front sloped, kidney-shaped green. Two giant bunkers line the left side of the green and I imagine are common destinations for those who hit pulls due to the water.
The final hole is an excellent par 5 and my favorite hole on the course. At just 490 yards, this exhilarating risk-reward hole features a lovely downhill teeshot to a tight fairway lined by bunkers on either side around 210 yards. At around 320 yards, a creek bisects the fairway with the second slab traveling uphill and to the right towards the clubhouse. Bunkers sequentially line either side of the lay-up area with four bunkers short of an elevated green.
General Comments: Although I didn’t use it, Ravenwood features an excellent grass driving range that remains lighted until 10 PM in the summer. There’s also a large practice green near the 1st tee that plays similarly to the course. Pace of play was strong even though the course was busy.
Verdict: While not exactly the most memorable course, Ravenwood is a very strong upscale public course with excellent conditioning and a nice layout. This is no doubt one of the best public courses in the region and one I would recommend.