The mastermind behind the design, local course designer Ed Shearon, based in Plymouth Meeting, respects the great, historic courses around Philadelphia. His goal is to bring classic golf course architecture—and the golf experience of the best private clubs—to daily fee players.
Shearon also thinks long and hard about the “flow” of the round as the average player will experience it. He believes that a golf course should ease the player into the round, mix it up in the middle with a variety of challenges and leave the player with some memories as they wrap up the round.
“I want a course that looks intimidating but plays softer than it looks,” Shearon explains. And, at Raven’s Claw, thinking yourself around the course correctly can be more valuable than brute strength or distance. “If you can position the ball like you do in pool, you can beat the power player.”
Play the course a few times, and you’ll be wise to heed the axiom: “Once bitten, twice shy.” For example, in the heart of the course, knowing the lay of the land and your strategic options can save you some risk/reward mistakes. Holes 10, 11 and 12 are challenging no matter how you slice them, but a modicum of caution will help you avoid big numbers. But that doesn’t mean you’ll be settling for bogey.
On the second shot for the par-five 10th, a split-level fairway tempts an aggressive shot to the upper level on the right side. However, the lower level is easier to hit, has less risk of finding a bunker and even has a better angle into the green, which slopes right to left. From the tee on the right-turning, par-four 11th, the fairway looks like a thin ribbon of fairway, but there’s no need to risk aiming at the 150-yard marker. And on the par-four 12th, there’s no reason to challenge the bunker in the middle of the fairway, because you’ll still have a short-iron approach from behind the bunker.