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SANTA BARBARA GOLF COURSES: FROM NATIONALLY ACCLAIMED TO NOVICE-FRIENDLY

January 18, 2024

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Nestled in the heart of California's coastal beauty, Santa Barbara, aptly dubbed The American Riviera®, stands as a testament to picturesque landscapes that captivate the senses. Among its many charms, the area boasts an array of golf links, both private and public, that seamlessly blend into the natural splendor of the region. Each of the Santa Barbara golf courses offers a unique journey, from the rolling greens that create an exquisite topography, to the coastal fairways that provide a stunning backdrop for an unparalleled golfing experience. As endorsed by fervent local golf enthusiasts, here is the definitive list of the top golf courses that grace our area, where every swing is accompanied by the breathtaking beauty that is quintessentially Santa Barbara.


A young man in white shirt and dark blue shorts hitting a drive on one of the Santa Barbara golf courses
CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 DEED

Exclusive Private Golf Clubs

In Santa Barbara's private golf clubs, the pursuit of golfing excellence is harmoniously paired with a luxurious and refined lifestyle.

Joining a private golf club in Santa Barbara offers many exclusive benefits. Beyond the impeccable courses, these clubs provide members with a heightened level of personalized service, fostering community and camaraderie with like-minded individuals. Members of private golf clubs enjoy priority access to tee times, ensuring an unhurried and leisurely golfing experience. Featuring top-notch amenities, including fine dining, social events, and premium facilities, the exclusivity of these clubs ensures a more intimate and tailored golfing atmosphere, allowing members to forge lasting connections both on and off the course.

Montecito Club: Montecito
Honoring the legacy of the property and the game, Montecito Club offers an unrivaled experience for its members. Surrounded by the beauty of Montecito, this course combines well-designed holes with a tranquil setting, creating an environment where enthusiasts can enjoy the sport to its fullest. As the website states, “This is a place where Members can pursue individual passions and interests and also connect with family members and friends in engaging, meaningful ways.”

The Valley Club of Montecito
Routed like an hourglass, The Valley Club boasts a diverse array of holes, from the challenging third along a barranca, to the downright mountainous 10th. Architectural marvels contribute to its allure, such as the gorgeous canyon-carry 14th and the broad, serpentine 15th. The MacKenzie bunkers, meticulously restored, add a classic touch.

La Cumbre Country Club: Hope Ranch
Immerse yourself in the exclusive ambiance of La Cumbre Country Club, a haven for private golfing. This unique club offers members a serene escape with meticulously crafted holes and lush surroundings. With its prestigious reputation, this historic hideaway in Hope Ranch is rich in tradition and provides a challenge for any level player.

Birnam Wood Golf Club: Montecito
Birnam Wood Golf Club offers members premier dining, tennis, fitness, and social programs along with a meticulously crafted golf course complemented by a serene ambiance. Comprised of a diverse and accomplished membership, including homeowners, residents, and individuals residing in metropolitan hubs across the country, mountains, and ocean views surround the course, and there’s even a driving range and a small practice area for members, complemented by guest cottages.

A Titleist golf ball on the green sitting on the lip of the cup on one of Santa Barbara's golf courses
Photo by Pexels from Freerange Stock

Stunning Public Clubs

Santa Barbara's public golf clubs come with their own wealth of benefits for linksmen of all skill levels. Public courses in this picturesque region feature stunning views of the Santa Ynez Mountains and the Pacific Ocean and present an inclusive and welcoming atmosphere.

Playing on public courses provides a more accessible avenue for individuals to hone their skills. Santa Barbara's public golf clubs embrace a laid-back ambiance, encouraging both novice and seasoned players to enjoy the game without the formality associated with private clubs. The public courses also serve as social hubs, bringing together individuals from various walks of life who share a common passion.

Sandpiper Golf Club
Nestled along the Santa Barbara cliffside, Sandpiper Golf Club offers breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean and the beach. A creation of William F. Bell, this course has hosted prestigious events, including the final stage of the PGA Tour’s Q-School and the LPGA Tour’s Santa Barbara Women’s Open. Notably, the property has a unique history, serving as a site for ARCO crude oil production from 1938 to 1954 before transforming into one of the area’s favorites among players.

Hidden Oaks Golf Course: Santa Barbara
The 9-hole Hidden Oaks Golf Course invites everyone – young and old, novice to advanced -- to tee-off and experience an engaging round amidst picturesque landscapes. Featuring 1,118 yards of golf from the longest tees for a par of 27, the course rating is 35.0 with a slope rating of 113. Immerse yourself in the natural beauty and enjoy a memorable day on the greens.

A man in a black sweater sets up to tee off on a hole at Santa Barbara Golf Club, with mountains and blue sky in the background
Image Courtesy of Santa Barbara Golf Club

Santa Barbara Golf Club: Santa Barbara
At Santa Barbara Golf Club, environmental sustainability stands as a core philosophy. Owned and maintained by the city, this club is a leader in environmental management practices within both the community and the golf course industry. With a commitment to responsible management practices, the city has created this eco-friendly recreational destination as an example that beckons golf enthusiasts with its well-designed layout and welcoming atmosphere.

Twin Lakes Golf Course: Twin Lakes
Twin Lakes Golf Course features a 9-hole executive course, a TopTracer Driving Range, and world-class coaching all in one place. Twin Lakes Golf Course invites the public to explore its scenic fairways and well-designed holes. With scenic fairways, well-designed holes, and a focus on enjoyment and challenge, this course caters to golfers of varying skill levels.

Glen Annie Golf Club: Glen Annie
Glen Annie Golf Club, situated in the rolling foothills of Santa Barbara, presents a championship, challenging layout with first-class amenities and breathtaking panoramic views. The clubhouse's award-winning architecture makes it an ideal location for tournaments, weddings, corporate outings, banquets, and meetings.

Embark on an unparalleled golfing journey in Santa Barbara, where each course narrates its own extraordinary tale of excellence. Whether private or public, each course contributes to the region's reputation as a golfer's paradise.


With the enticing array of golfing options showcased above, residents of Santa Barbara can tee off in the captivating beauty of the natural surroundings. Meanwhile, if you plan to move within any of our prestigious communities, don't hesitate to contact me at (805) 886-9378 or Cristal@montecito-estate.com. Until then, take the opportunity to explore, enjoy a round of golf, and relish the allure of Santa Barbara's distinguished golf courses.


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- M.A.

“Working with Cristal was a complete pleasure. Cristal was extremely patient with us as we evaluated nearly 2 dozen homes over a span of 2 years. Her knowledge of the market is unmatched. Cristal provided us with exceptional counsel as we evaluated opportunities and negotiated pricing. The closing process was handled thoroughly and efficiently. We could not be happier with our purchase and even more happy to now call Cristal our friend.”

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“Cristal Clarke has conducted numerous real estate transactions for me beginning 13 years ago with the purchase of a Lemon Ranch. She has handled both large and small purchases and sales with equal dedication. As a negotiator, you can’t find anyone better. Her transactions are always conducted in the most appropriate and professional manner. Cristal has considerable knowledge of the Santa Barbara market.”

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“Living in Europe, we were to say the least, unaccustomed to the nuances of Real Estate acquisition in California and Cristal steered us through the process with absolute professionalism and personal attention to detail at every turn. Her in-depth knowledge of the market place combined with enthusiasm and drive was the only reason we secured the property of our dreams and will be forever grateful. If you are looking for personal discrete and private representation of the highest quality we suggest you look no further than Cristal Clarke.”

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“After considering our many choices, we are grateful it was Cristal Clarke of Sotheby’s International who represented the sale of our Montecito cottage. We are familiar with Cristal’s reputation of hard work and dedication to clients, but it was her attention to detail that made our experience so positive. She offered suggestions for staging the property, worked in harmony with potential buyers and was even able to secure back up offers. The sale of our cottage was completed much sooner than we expected, due in great part to Cristal’s professional skills and support. We highly recommend Cristal as a first choice for anyone needing representation with real estate.”

- Michael & Nancy Lee

“Our experience in working with Cristal Clarke resulted in the successful and discrete acquisition of a property which was not yet on the open market. Her knowledge of the Montecito/Santa Barbara area and vast expertise blended with her passion for real estate and architecture, provided us with the very highest level of professionalism and personalized services. Cristal exhibited a rare combination of excellent communications, attention to detail, creativity and patience.”

- Richard and Catherine Frinier

“Cristal really breaks the mold. She knows every nook and cranny of this real estate market, understands value, and follows up on everything, all the time. She was incredibly patient with our two year quest to find the perfect house. Every house hunting trip from across the country was well planned, and our time was never wasted. On top of her professionalism and expertise, she is delightful to spend time with. We are thrilled with the home we purchased, and grateful to Cristal for so wisely advising us through this process, right through to the close and beyond.”

- Laurie Siegel

“We met Cristal first in the course of renting a winter home (for three years), then buying a house using her as our agent. She was amazingly good at listening to our wants and showing us homes that fit our needs. Her mastery of the paperwork was perfect. Most importantly, there was never a situation where we doubted her straightforwardness or integrity. If we do another real estate transaction in Montecito (which I doubt, we’re happy with what we purchased), without question we’d use Cristal again.”

- Ken Saffir

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- Michael & Susan Marquart

“A little something about “our” realtor, Cristal Clarke. My wife and I came to Santa Barbara about fifteen years ago looking for a seasonal home from which to enjoy the weather and amenities of the central coast. Being in the real estate business myself I was familiar with agents and brokers so entered the market with open eyes. We “flipped” a few houses in the early years, dealing with various agents and finally ended up in Montecito. That’s when good fortune put us together with Cristal. To say we were impressed is to put it mildly. Cristal really knows the market. She is familiar with the area, its history and trends. When we have questions about a particular property she either has the answers immediately or gets back to us by phone or email. There is no waiting or wondering with Cristal. She is an agent who is “on top of it.” Her recommendations as to price points, contractors, inspectors and title agents have proven to be exceptional, showing great insight and the highest professional standards. We consider ourselves exceedingly fortunate to say that Cristal Clarke is our realtor and would recommend her services to any serious buyer or seller.”

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