The 7,263-yard course of the Club at Ravenna is a Jay Morrish solo design and it's set between Waterton Canyon and the Pike National Forest. Opened in June 2007 Ravenna is already an award winner and despite having the second highest slope rating in Colorado, the course is tailored to suit all levels of golfer.
The topography at Littleton can be testing in places with ravines and gorges to be carried at several holes – such as at the 187-yard 3rd and 234-yard 9th – so there are plenty of opportunities to run up big scores if careless mistakes are made.
The opening holes on the back nine plunge down from an escarpment to lower ground dotted with water hazards before the routing returns to a higher level where the monster 602-yard 18th veers right around one final chasm to the home green.
Lots of elevation changes. Very good shape, with very slick greens. Pay attention to the location of downtown to determine speed and break.
It's a decent layout, but it's a bit tricked up. Some good shots are penalized, some poor shots rewarded. Best to play with a member, as some of the shots off the tee require knowledge of the proper line, or you may find yourself out of play.
Given the choice, I think I'd choose The Ridge at Castle Pines over Ravenna if I was looking for a Moorish design. But Ravenna is worth a trip out to play for the experience. It is in a beautiful area and it's a fun enough course to play.
So much of the work of the late Jay Morrish is tied to his connection to PGA TOUR player Tom Weiskopf. The duo did create a number of top tier designs. When the partnership dissolved Morrish went his separate way and with it much of the attention from media and those in the business.
The 18-hole layout at The Golf Club at Ravenna is the best Morrish course I've played. The starting five holes are where one needs to score because as the round progresses the difficulty meter clearly accelerates. Being a private club Morrish was free to add a whole slew of design elements that test players to be especially patient or they will face some major pain on the scorecard.
The par-3 holes are all demanding -- the long criticism is that the length aspect could have been a bit more varied.
The topography is also a wonderful dimension adding to the enjoyment in simply being on the grounds.
So much focus in The Centennial State is often reserved for other courses and given that I have played nearly all the key candidates it shocks me that Ravenna is not more fully appreciated and rated accordingly. The par-5 14th is truly spectacular -- glorious scenery with a clear statement presented to the players. A bold play off the tee can pay dividends with a go at the green in two blows. Just don't miss. The downhill par-3 16th is utterly delicious. At 240 yards the hole plays a bit shorter because of the altitude but the setting is grand design and the way the putting green wraps around two bunkers hugging the right side is especially well done.
The greater Denver area really blossomed during the spike in course construction prior to The Great Recession. The GC at Ravenna in my mind has never really been appreciated because so much hype has followed others in the immediate neighborhood. My recommendation for those who can wiggle an invitation is get there when in town. You will not be disappointed.
by M. James Ward