If you think golf courses are just different combinations of grass and sand, you haven’t experienced golf in Santa Barbara. Yes, you’ll find lush fairways and smooth, fast greens. But you’ll also find three courses, just a short drive from one another, in one of the best vacation spots around. Simply put, there’s no other golf destination like it.
Start at Rancho San Marcos, deep on the valley floor of the Santa Ynez Mountains. On this Robert Trent Jones Jr.–designed course, centuries-old oak trees and historic ranch buildings dot the property. The course blends seamlessly with this natural footprint — you may even see a wild turkey or two.
The 6 can’t miss holes at Rancho San Marcos?
No. 5, Par 3 – It’s all carry over water; the green is large and undulating
No. 6, Par 5 – Plays dead into the prevailing wind
No. 9, Par 4 – A precise tee shot is required with out of bounds right, and native grass down the left
No. 14, Par 3 – Signature hole; it’s all carry over a large ravine from an elevated tee
No. 15, Par 4 – A difficult downhill with deep bunkers on the right and a long, narrow green
No. 18, Par 5 – A large bunker complex guards the fairway
From Rancho San Marcos, it’s only a 15-minute drive south to the foothills of Santa Barbara to get to Glen Annie Golf Club. The front nine plays around lakes and waterfall features; the mountain-front holes offer ocean and Channel Island views. This course is more forgiving than Rancho San Marcos and is always in great shape. Bonus: There’s a great craft beer selection on the beverage cart. After your round, enjoy drinks on the patio at the Frog Bar & Grill.
The six can’t-miss holes at Glen Annie Golf Club?
No. 1, Par 4 – Uphill, known as the toughest starting hole in the county
No. 3, Par 4 – Elevated tee, scenic lake in front of green
No. 7, Par 5 – Set up and approach shots offer great risk-reward
No. 11, Par 3 – Ocean views from one of the highest elevations on the course
No. 12, Par 4 – A big drive from this elevated tee may find the green
No. 16, Par 4 – Great views of lakes and Santa Barbara in the distance
Why not stay an extra day? By adding one more night, you’ll open a new world of possibilities. Spend the day with Santa Barbara Adventure Company and choose from an array of activities including island cave kayaking, surf lessons, wine tours, stand-up paddle boarding, and more! Don’t leave before you’ve had the chance to explore all of Santa Barbara. Tours running everyday.
Just a few paces away, the ocean becomes a major player at Sandpiper Golf Club, which Golf Digest recently named to its list of the Top 100 Public Golf Courses. On a seaside bluff, this 7,000-yard, links-style course boasts ocean and mountain views from every hole— you’re closer to the ocean here than you are on any hole at Pebble Beach.
The six can’t-miss holes at Sandpiper Golf Club?
No. 6, Par 3 – Runs parallel to the Pacific, with views of the coast and Channel Islands
No. 10, Par 4 – Slight dog-leg left makes for a difficult tee shot
No. 11, Par 3 – This tee shot, toward the ocean, is one of the best in California
No. 12, Par 4 – Uphill dog-leg right plays 347 yards from the championship tee, located off the beach
No. 13, Par 5 – Tee box sits 200 feet above the beach
No. 18, Par 3 – A tough finishing hole over the water
Book Your Stay
The best part? These three courses are just minutes from downtown Santa Barbara. In between rounds, sip Pinot on the Urban Wine Trail and enjoy local cuisine at Opal Restaurant & Bar. Stroll Stearns Wharf to see whales and seals in the Harbor. Browse the shops on State Street, then catch a show at the Granada Theatre. The hardest decision you’ll have to make is how long to stay.
From the moment we opened in January of 1998, Rancho San Marcos Golf Course has been a classic. Designed by legendary golf architect Robert Trent Jones Jr., this course became the talk of the community by offering a world class golf course on 300…
Glen Annie Golf Club is a championship golf course situated in the rolling foothills of scenic Santa Barbara. This challenging layout is enhanced by breathtaking panoramic ocean and mountain views and is always maintained with the highest…
The championship golf course at Sandpiper has been rated by Golf Digest in the top twenty five public golf courses in the nation. It was designed by William F. Bell and opened in 1972 featuring beautiful rolling fairways and challenging greens in a…
Santa Barbara’s diverse natural landscape is a year-round playground serving up memorable adventures on land, at sea and even in the sky. Local outdoor gurus and adventure outfitters can help you experience the destination from extraordinary perspectives—and push your limits, if that’s what you’re seeking. Consider one of these guided escapades that range from low-key horseback rides to the ultimate,…