Arizona National Golf Club (formerly The Raven Golf Club at Sabino Springs): The Way the Game Should be Played

By Scott Behmer, Contributor

Chip Shot: The Raven is known as one of Tucson's most challenging and beautiful courses, but it also should be hailed for providing the best service in southern Arizona.

TUCSON - Since The Raven at Sabino Springs' creation in 1993, it has become one of Tucson's most popular courses, offering challenging golf, magnificent views, an award-winning pro shop, and the best service in southern Arizona.

From the opening welcome at the bag drop to the thank you when you return to your car, the friendly assistants do everything possible to make sure that you have an enjoyable experience at this great course.

Upon arrival, all you have to do is give the assistant your name and he'll place your bag on the correct, pre-scheduled cart while you check-in at the adjacent pro shop. There the friendly staff will give you your tee time.

The Raven's pro shop is consistently ranked among the top 100 by Golf Shop Operations. Whether you want a shirt, hat, or a Raven logo ball, they've got it. Now you're ready to hit the range.

The cart assistant has a walkie-talkie to alert the starter that you're on your way. After driving through a tunnel, you arrive at the range and are greeted by the starter who tells you how much time until you're on the box. Balls are waiting at the range with six different pins to aim for. A small practice putting green is also nearby.

When your tee time rolls around, the starter comes and directs you to the opening hole, either No. 1 or No. 7, depending on the maintenance crew's needs.

An ice chest is waiting at the tee to go along with the water cooler already on your cart. The starter then informs you of some of the Raven's nuances, such as the blind tee shots. Aim for the fairway pin if you play the tips. Otherwise, aim left of the pin from the shorter tees.

No yardage books are provided. Instead, a GPS tracker is used to display each hole's design including yardages to various obstacles. The tracker provides exact yardages to the pin from your current location, as well as offering detailed looks at the green and a tip from the pro on how to play each hole. Also on board is a ball washer and a mister on each side.

As you go out you'll quickly realize how important the GPS tracker is because not many holes are straight. This brings the desert into play as well as the opportunity to see the natural wildlife. Last week, I saw three snakes, a gila monster, countless rabbits, quail, and roadrunners so be careful searching for lost balls.

If you ever want more than water to drink, you can be sure that the cart girl will be around shortly. She comes every three holes and carries a wide selection of drinks, starting at $3, as well as sandwiches.

If you want you can even order something from the grille on the cart's computer and it will be ready for when you pass the clubhouse. Also, about every four holes your individual player guide comes around to make sure everything is going smoothly. On hot summer days, the ice-cold towels that he hands out are even better than using the mister.

While it may seem that people are coming around every hole, it's just part of the dedication that The Raven has to making this the ultimate golfing experience. In fact, it's almost impossible for someone to pass by and not try to help you.

After my round was complete, the assistant cleaned my clubs. Then, while I was heading back to my car, four different staff members asked if they could take my clubs to my car for me. Now that's service! It's no wonder The Raven has so many repeat players, including almost every golfing Arizona Diamondback.

Scott Behmer, Contributor

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