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 five 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.
From downtown Santa Barbara, it’s only a 15-minute drive north on US-101 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.
Located on the skirts of Hope Ranch, Hidden Oaks Golf Course provides for a quick early morning or midday golf getaway with its nine-hole course. Surround yourself with blue skies and towering palm trees as you chip away the day. Take advantage of its weekly special every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday and play the entire course for only $9 between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m.
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.
Fondly known as “Muni” to Santa Barbara locals, this beloved course offers 18 holes that overlook both the Santa Ynez mountains and the Pacific Ocean and is open 365 days a year from sunrise to sunset.
Another Goleta favorite, Twin Lakes Golf Course, sits on 19,000 square feet of land with nine lush holes to tackle. It offers group coaching and private lessons and is a friendly course for golfers of every age and skill set.
The best part? Santa Barbara Golf Club and Hidden Oaks Golf Course are just minutes from downtown Santa Barbara. In between rounds, sip pinot on the Urban Wine Trail and enjoy local cuisine at Opal Restaurant and Bar. Stroll Stearns Wharf to see whales and seals in the Santa Barbara Harbor. Browse the shops on State Street, then catch a show at the Granada Theatre. Twin Lakes Golf Course, Sandpiper Golf Club and Glen Annie Golf Club are all located in Goleta, where golfers can take a detour to the Coronado Butterfly Preserve or stop for a refreshing beer at M. Special. The hardest decision you’ll have to make is how long to stay.