There are at least twenty 18-hole golf courses within the two-hour drive between Santa Maria and Oxnard, which includes five private clubs, two resort courses open to guests and members, and the outstanding, difficult layout hidden behind the eucalyptus trees adn reefs of iceplant on Vendenburg AFB.
We have provided a brief description of several courses chosen only because they fairly well represent the variety of golf in the tri-county area (San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Ventura counties).
Black Lake Golf Course, Nipomo
Located at 1490 Golf Course lane. Ten minutes north of Santa Maria on Hwy. 101, take nipomo exit, turn left, follow signs ahead, five minutes to course. Public, 27 holes, par 68 and 69, rated 70.3, 3,075; 2,981; 2,738 yards.
The quiet eucalyptus-lined fairways of this course belong to the Black Lake Partnership which, since 1983, has spent lots of money developing not only the land surrounding it, but the Black Lake Partnership itself. The forested, rural character of the Nipomo Mesa still remains, but room has been made for several executive/retirement neighborhoods, including some on-course sites. In addition to the original “Black Lake”, you can enjoy water cascading down several steps of manmade rock, over a waterfall, and into a lake, cool off in the shade behind the 100-foot eucalyptus trees, or take in the breathtaking, long-distance views of Avila Beach. There is a clubhouse complex with a restaurant, full bar, and banquet facitilities.
River Course at the Alisal, Solvang
Located at 150 Alisal Road. From Hwy. 101 north, take the San Marcos Pass exit (Hwy. 154) on the north side of town and drive 30 minutes to Hwy. 246, turn left to Solvang (10 minutes), and left on Alisal Road to the course (5 minutes); or, stay on Hwy. 101 for 35 minutes, right on Hwy. 246 to Solvang, right on Alisal Road. Resort/Public, par 72, stroke rating 73.1 and slope rating 129. Services include a well-stocked pro shop with professional sales advice and club fitting, a 300-yard driving range, putting, pitching and sand practice greens, group and private lessons by PGA and LPGA professionals, golf schools and clinics, electric and hand carts, rental clubs, a full service restaurant, banquet and group patio dining facilities, tournament and corporate outing services.
18 holes of exceptional golf and characterized by spectacular, panoramic views, River Course exhibits the relaxing beauty that has drawn many visitors to the Santa Ynez Valley over the years. Miles of native landscape and frequent wildlife sightings create a peaceful atmosphere for a casual game of golf. River Course has been sensitively designed to provide enjoyment for golfers of all levels. There are four sets of tees at the River Course, which offer four distinctly different levels of play. At 6,830 yards, the course is challenging but not punishing. The strategic placement of a variety of hazards rewards length and accuracy without severly penalizing casual and recreational golfers. The moderate Central California climate and meticulous maintenance provide excellent year-round playing conditions. The clubhouse was creatively designed using native river tock, cypress, and glass to take full advantage of an inspiring setting. it provides the perfect atmostphere for relaxing after a round, or for enjoying a superb meal in the popular River Grill Restaurant. The expansive patio, overlooking the course and the river, is the ideal place for a group barbecue following a day of golfing fun.
The River Course, in cooperation with the Rancho Santa Barbara Marriott Hotel in nearby Buellton, became the Central Coast site for the John Jacobs Golf School. The John jacobs School is one of the oldest and most famous golf instruction schools in the world and teaches all facets of the game, from driving to putting. The River Course offers a two-day school on weekends and a three-day school that starts on Mondays.
Alisal Ranch Golf Course, Solvang
Located at 1054 Alisal Road. Resort, 18 holes, par 72, 6,472 yards. (805) 688-4215
Rancho San Marcos Golf Course, Santa Barbara
Located at 4600 Hw. 154. Off Hwy. 154 near Paradise Road, 12 miles northwest of downtown Santa Barbara via Hw. 154; or, from Santa Ynez, 12 miles southeast on Hwy. 154. Public, 18 holes, par 71, stroke rating 73.1, slope rating 135 (from the back tees), 6,752 yards. Challenging public course with sand, lakes, fields of native grasses, oak-tree-lined chaparral, challenges in elevation, and in a magnificatet open-space setting along the Santa Ynez River, east of Cachuma Lake.
This is a great golf course. Just north of Cachuma Lake, the emerald green fairways of Rancho San Marcos Golf Course are rich with “environment,” including substantial oak woodland and oak savanna habitats, acres of aquatic and native grassland habitats, not to mention the river. Every hole on this golf course is interesting, challenging and beautiful. There is also a first-class practice facility on 15 acres and a clubhouse that reflects the original barn/stable structures and early California history of the property. (805) 683-6334
Glen Annie Golf Club, Goleta
Located at 405 Glen Annie Road. Take Hwy. 101 to the Glen Annie Road/Storke Road exit, east one mile to Cathedral Oaks Road; the entrance to Glen Annie is 250 yards ahead. Public, 18 holes, par 71, stroke rating 71.1, slope rating 122 (from back tees), 6,420 yards.
Set in the foothills, Glen Annie Golf Club was built on a 130-acre site of “Tecololito Canyon” and offers a challenging golf, with pristine fairways winding through canyons, beside natural ridgelines, and alongside the ancient wetlands of this breathtaking glen. The country club, quality restaurant The Frog Bar & Grill is one of the best in town and is set inside the striking Santa Barbara farmhouse-style structure designed by the local architectural firm B3 Architects & Planners, headed up by Barry Berkus. The course, in general, is friendly and view-oriented. Most golfers will want to use a cart because of the seriousness of some of the hills, the cost of which is included in the published rates. The change in elevation, though, is part of what makes the course interesting, which you’ll especially appreciate when you’re at the top. There is another benefit to driving a golf cart at Glen Annie – the on-board, computerized scoring system and hole-by-hole illustrator. Simply push a button and voila! The illustrator describes the hole, warns you about foolhardy shots, estimates your yardage from the center of the green (from wherever you are on the course) and then keeps your (and your partner’s) score. You can also order lunch by pushing a button on the illustrator at which time the menu appears and you can order from the kitchen directly, without ever having to talk to a water. Your food is ready to go when you arrive at the clubhouse. Other amenities include night-lit practice facilities and superb dining and banquet accommodations. (805) 968-6400
Sandpiper Golf Course, Goleta
Located at 7925 Hollister Avenue. 15 minutes north of downtown Santa Barbara on Hwy. 101, take Winchester Canyon exit, left over the freeway, left again. open to the public, individual and group reservations, 18 holes, par 72, stroke rating 74.2, slope rating 123, course over 7,000 yards, driving range, putting greens, golf carts, rental clubs, snack bar, barbecue facilities, pro shop, tournament booking, and golf lessons.
Sandpiper Golf Course is a championship, public course situated in a spectacular coastal setting near scenic Santa Barbara. Bordered by the Santa Ynez Mountains and the Pacific Ocean, Sandpiper is California’s only seaside course between San Diego and Monterey. Its large, sweeping fairways and spacious greens are designed to meet the requirements of major PGA and LPGA tournament competitions. Rated as one of the top courses in the nation, play at Sandpiper brings the golfer to the edge of bluffs where the surf pounds below. unparalleled panoramic vistas, ocean breezes and the tranquil, unspoiled setting make Sandpiper a favorite for players of all skill levels. (805) 968-1541
Santa Barbara Golf Club, Santa Barbara
Located at 3500 McCaw Avenue. Five minutes from downtown on hwy. 101 north, take Las Positas exit and go east 1/2 mile, then left on mcCaw Avenue at the course; or, from the State Street, west on Las Positas, right on McCaw at the course. Group and private golf lessons, tournament arrangements, residential discount cards available, electric and pull carts, rental clubs. Par 70, stroke rating 68.1 and slope rating 123 (from the back tees).
Rumor has it that Santa Barbara Golf Club is the third busiest golf course in the United States. Eleven months of good weather, I’m sure, accounts for much of the high total number of rounds, and most weekdays or even weekend afternoons, speed of play is no worse than at any other municipal course. In comparison with other municipal courses, in fact, the Stanta Barbara Golf Club is a showcase. The fairways are nevery dry, the greens are in excellent condition, and flowers grow near most trees. Don’t be surprised, incidentally, if you don’t score as well as you might expect on this somewhat underrated golf course. (805) 687-7087
Soule Park, Ojai
Located at 1033 East Ojai Avenue. Drive south from Santa Barbara on Hwy. 101 ten minutes to Bates Road exit (Hwy. 150), then left into the foothills 25 minutes to the road to Ojai. Turn left, go through town, course is on the right. Public, 18 holes, par 72, stroke rating 69.0, 5,894 yards.
Surrounded by picturesque mountains, the rural Ojai Valley is an ideal place for a golf course, and there are, in fact, two. Just minutes down the road toward Santa Barbara (or Ventura) is the Ojai Valley Inn and Country Club, an excellent resort. Soule Park, while perhaps not as manicured, is certainly on a par with the Inn’s course and in some ways is superior. The rolling terrain is loaded with mature trees. A creek comes into play on several holes. There are also some easier holes, and because of the relaxing effect the Ojai countryside seems to have on most golfers, you may experience your best scores here. (805) 646-5633
Hidden Oaks Country Club, Santa Barbara
Just minutes from downtown Santa Barbara at 4760 Calle Camarada. Senior and junior rates and no tee time is necessary.
Challenging, executive 9-hole course, designed many years ago by Billy Casper, in an estate setting with panoramic views of the rugged Santa Ynez Mountains and beautifully landscaped grounds. All levels of players are welcome. Discover Santa Barbara’s best-kept secret! (805) 967-3493
Olivas Park, Ventura
Take Hwy. 101 south from Santa Barbara 35 minutes to the Seaward exit at the north end of Ventura; turn left and stay on Harbor Blvd., through the light at Seaward, 5 minutes, to intersection of Olivas Park Blvd.(yacht harbor on the right). Turn left, course is on right. Par 72, stroke rating 71.0, 6,780 yards from championship tees.
Olivas Park is the site of the annual California State Open Championships. Olivas Park is essentially a flat course, with ocean breezes often present and affecting play, especially on the difficult finishing holes of both sides. There are some trees and lakes, but difficulty is more measured in gauging distance and wind-factor here than in prevailing obstacles. When Santa Barbara area courses are booked up, and it’s too hot in Ojai, Olivas Park is relatively close and usually has openings in the afternoons. Besides a pro shop, the facility includes a good little restaurant with some live entertainment, full bar, and there is a snack shop adjacent to #10. (805) 642-4303
Santa Barbara Golf Learning Center at Twin lakes Golf Course, Goleta
Located at 6034 Hollister Avenue, the Santa Barbara Golf Learning Center at Twin Lakes Golf Course has been designed to create a positive learning experience for all levels of golfers. 9 holes, par 29. The course has two 4-pars (the rest are 3-pars) and a large driving range plus putting greens and sand bunkers.
The Center’s goal is to produce improvement, understanding and enjoyment of all aspects of the game of golf. When learning, there must be a responsibility and a commitment to work on each aspect of becoming a better golfer. A better understanding of the game will provide the real joy and sense of success and accomplishment when playing golf. (805) 964-1414
La Purisima Golf Course, Lompoc
Located at 3455 East Highway 246. Created by the developer and original owner of Sandpiper Golf Course, this is the area’s most difficult course, site of some pro tournaments, set in the open foothills. 18 holes, par 72, stroke rating 74.9, slope rating 143. (805) 735-8395
Ocean Meadows Golf Course, Goleta
Located at 6925 Whittier Drive. take hwy. 101 north to the Glen Annie Road/Storke Road exit in Goleta, left toward the ocean, one mile to Whittier Drive. 9 or 18 holes (2 sets of tees), par 36 or 72. Good 9-hole course with two long 3-pars, five good 4-pars and two 5-pars, with water on every hole, in a pretty setting adjacent to a lagoon. Excellent practice facilities with driving range, putting and chipping greens, and sand bunkers. (805) 968-6814
Tee Time Target Gold Center, Carpinteria
Driving range located at 5885 Carpinteria Avenue. Hit balls toward the Pacific (or putt, chip and sand-blast) at this unusual ocean-bluff facility just off the freeway. (805) 566-9948
La Cumbre Country Club, Santa Barbara’s Hope Ranch
Located at 4015 Via Laguna. Private, 18 holes, par 71, 6,092 yards. (805) 687-2421
Zaca Greek Gold Course, Buellton
Located at 223 Shadow Mountain Drive. Public, 9 holes, par 29, 3,088 yards. Pretty setting along the Santa Ynez River with two 4-pars in addition to seven 3-pars. (805) 688-2575
There are three private courses in Montecito which are by invitation only:
(1) Birnam Wood Golf Club is located at 2031 Packing House Road. (805) 969-0919 (Private, 18 holes, par 70, 5,904 yards.)
(2) Valley Club of Montecito is located at 1901 East Valley Road. (805) 969-4681
(3) Montecito Country Club is located at 920 Summit Road. (805) 969-0800
In order to utilize the facilities of these clubs, you need to be associated with a member of the Club and they will either bring you in as a guest or sponsor you if you’d like to become a member.
Other tri-county public golf courses include:
- Ojai Valley Inn & Country Club (resort) in Ojai. (805) 646-511
- River Ridge Golf Course in oxnard. (805) 983-4653
- Rancho Maria Country Club at 1950 Casmalia Road, Santa Maria. (805) 937-2019
- Pismo State Beach Golf Course at LeSage Drive, off Grand Avenue, Grover City. (805) 481-5215
- The Village Country Club at 4300 Clubhouse Road, Lompoc. (805) 733-3537
- Mountain View Golf Course at 16799 S. Mountain Road, Santa Paula. (805) 525-1571
- Rancho Maria Golf Club at 1950 Hwy. 1, Orcutt. (805) 937-2019
- Buena Ventura GOlf Course in Ventura. (805) 642-2231
For further information regarding these courses and their fees, please contact them directly at the number indicated in each write-up.