Just north of Huntsville, Raven Nest is a Pete Dye design that open in 2003 and shortly opened was rated as a "Best Place to Play" by Golf Digest. Owned and operated by nearby Sam Houston University, the course is home to the Professional Golf Management program, the only one in Texas, and the Sam Houston Bearkats. Pete Dye did an excellent job of blending this fantastic layout into the rolling hills, wooded areas, and marsh lands, making Raven Nest both fun and challenging to play.
Raven Nest a links feel to it with wide and open fairway boarderedded in most cases with marsh and natural areas. With yardages ranging from 5416 to 6943 and a slope of 121 to 131, Raven Nest is no pushover. If you can keep it in the fairway, manage your shot making, and putt, you'll score very well – but doing all of that of 18 holes isn't that easy. In most cases, you can pull out the driver and let 'er rip, but miss the playable rough and land in the natural area you'll need to add a stroke because you'll never find your ball, much less be able to play it!
The fairways are forgiving and in excellent shape, but you'll encounter some berms, bunkers, mounds, and severe slope and contouring that need to be managed. The bunkers range in size and all of them had soft and thick sand. The greens are a wide variety of shapes and sizes and when we played in October, they were:
in near perfect condition
hard to read with subtle breaks due to slope and some undulation
soft and held well
We found the greens to be one of the major factors making Raven Nest challenging – most are well protected, some are turtle top or uphill, and all of them had some slope or subtle break. Not sure if we are unique, but we struggled with the greens finding it hard to read some of the break and difficult to manage the speed – meaning 3 putts were not uncommon for us.
There are some really fun and challenging holes, for example: #5 is one of the prettiest holes with a narrow sculptured fairways sloping toward the center and this 461 yard beaut requires two carries over natural areas to reach a well protected green; #10 is a fun 422 yard par 4 with a left to right sloping fairway and an uphill shot to a tough little green; and #16 is a deceivingly hard 335 yard par 4 that offers a good risk reward shot to shorten the hole, but watch out for the bunkers, natural areas, rough, and small well protected uphill green. Fun course and a fantastic value.