Raven Rock Golf Club is arguably Eastern Kentucky’s most breathtaking championship golf course. It’s part of a remarkable strip mine reclamation project that encompasses over 2,000 acres. The course was originally built by Jack Fykes for TECO Coal in 1995 as a 9-hole layout and 8 years later was expanded to 18 holes. It’s a stunning combination of Mother Nature’s handiwork and manmade features all blended together to create a golf course that will thrill and entertain golfers of all abilities.
The golf course plays around a very large quarry and has wide fairways lined with prairie grasses that lead to well-manicured greens and give the course an open, links-like feel. This once-scarred property has become a model of sustained development that will last for generations to come. Compared to other courses in the area, the greens are very small and therefore don’t need a lot of protection. You can almost count the total number of bunkers on both hands; there are maybe ten sand traps on the entire course and a few of them are fairway bunkers.
Even though the course is short by today’s standards, don’t let that fool you. From the back (Black) tees, the course plays 6,160 yards with a rating of 69.8 and a slope of 131, which translates to a good test of golf. Members typically play from the Whites Tees (5545/67.3/118), while most ladies enjoy the Red Tees (4546/65.7/117). Pick the set that best suits your game and you’re sure to have a great time.
Your round starts with a par 3; one of three on the front nine. Number 1 plays slightly downhill, about 150 yards from the White Tees. It’s virtually all carry over thick ugly rough into a small green that slopes back to front. Hit a good tee shot and get your round off to a great start!
Number 2 is a dogleg right, par 4 that plays 363 yards from the Blue Tees. Tee off from an elevated tee box over a ravine to a fairway with native rough and woods on the right. From the tee, the pine tree on the left side is a good aiming point. Trying to cut the dogleg can land you in one of the two fairway bunkers at the corner. Your approach shot is going to play uphill into a green with a lot of mounding around
Number 5 is the second par 3 on the front nine and confirms the fact that a golf hole doesn’t have to be long to be a challenge! From the Black Tees, the hole plays a mere 127 yards, however, a small grove of trees creates a blind tee shot for right-hand pin placements. The small green is almost an island and leaves little room for error.
Number 6 is a risk-reward par 4 that plays 301 yards from the White Tees, but that’s if you make it a dogleg right, and hit the ball out to the fairway on the left. Longball hitters can take a shot at the green and the 240-yard carry over the quarry. Either way, you’re playing into a small green protected with a bunker back left.
The 14th hole may well be the prettiest hole on the golf course. Playing 394 yards from the White Tees, this dogleg left, par 4 requires something less than a driver off the tee. Play your tee shot no more than 195 yards into a landlocked “island” fairway. Anything longer than that and you’re not likely to find it. A good tee shot will leave a long, downhill approach shot over a ravine into a small, elevated green that slopes left to right. Miss the green and you’ll need a good short game to salvage par!
From the back two sets of tees, “blind shot” does not begin to describe your tee shot on Number 15. You tee off high above the tree line, over a small forest, and need at least 200 yards of carry. Successfully finding the fairway off the tee will leave a short iron into an elevated green.
On June 4th, 2023, a week before my arrival, tragedy struck one of Eastern Kentucky’s most scenic and challenging public golf courses when the Raven Rock clubhouse burned to the ground. They lost everything including the restaurant which was known to draw a lot of non-golfers, and the entire contents of the pro shop. Luckily, the golf carts were stored in a separate building.
To their credit, Golf Operations Manager Todd Combs and his staff never missed a beat. They worked out of a makeshift pro shop set up in a gazebo and within 72 hours, had golfers out on the course. A large golf tournament that was scheduled for the following weekend went off without a hitch – other than dinner which was catered. Raven Rock is currently working out of a temporary pro shop and other than no food service, it’s business as usual. Plans are to start the construction of a new clubhouse in the spring of 2024.
Raven Rock Golf Course is the perfect choice for a round of golf or as a new destination for you and your golf buddies when visiting the Jenkins, KY area. Todd Combs and his staff can offer tips and tricks for playing your best round on this scenic and challenging golf course. To book your next round at Raven Rock, give them a call at (606) 219-4499 or visit them online at www.ravenrockgolfcourse.com.