Hole Profile: No. 11 at Arizona National Golf Club (formerly The Raven Golf Club at Sabino Springs) a "green monster" for any competitor

By Ryan Finley, Contributor

TUCSON - Chris Sabala, a pro at the Raven Golf Club in Sabino Springs, near Tucson, is talking about college golfers.

"A lot of kids come out here for the Ping Arizona College Tournament every year," he said, "and let me tell you, very few of them are happy with the eleventh hole. It's a rough one."

The 11th hole at the picturesque Raven is a green monster, all right. The Robert Trent Jones Jr.-designed course in the foothills of Tucson is home to the University of Arizona men's and women's teams.

Widely considered as a desert jewel, the Raven is a challenge to anyone who sees himself fit to challenge the course.

The course is part of a pair of Raven resorts, the other one nestled at the base of South Mountain in nearby Phoenix. According to most critics, however, the Tucson course appears nicer.

In a recent poll of Golf Digest Readers, the Raven in Tucson came in fifth in the country for service, while it's Phoenecian counterpart placed 8th.

But don't let the "resort" mentality fool you. This is one bear of a golf course.

If the course is a monster, the 11th hole is the teeth. From the regular tees, the hole lists at 608 yards. From the blue tees, 625.

"From the back tees, it's one of the hardest holes around," Sabala said. "There's a 240-yard carry over some desert, and even then its tough to get over."

After a successful tee shot, there is a 280 foot shot over a wash, which empties into an oblong green some 50 feet deep and 30 feet wide.

"A lot of people will lay up at about 150 to try to get a shot onto the green," Sabala says. "The darn green is really short, though. A lot of people will either overhit or underhit, landing them in one of the bunkers. Those things line the green."

You would think a lot of people are happy paring the 600-plus yard par 4.

"A lot of people get overaggressive on that one," Sabala said. "I usually try to use anywhere from a four-to-six iron as soon as I can get through the desert area. You can't afford to mess up a shot once you get close."

Now back to the college golfers. The Ping College tournament is held at the Raven every year, and, guaranteed, there will always be one golfer willing to tackle it.or so you'd think.

"Nobody's ever taken that hole lightly at all," Sabala said. "A lot of players get intimidated, and they should. That hole's a handful."

Ryan Finley, Contributor

A sophomore majoring in journalism at the University of Arizona, Ryan is the volleyball beat writer for the Arizona Daily Wildcat, the student voice of the U of A.

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