Explore Two of Santa Barbara’s Most Iconic Golf Holes
Santa Barbara is known for its picturesque landscape, so it should come as no surprise that many of the area’s golf courses feature iconic holes that not only offer beautiful views, but also a challenge for golfers of all levels. For example, conveniently located less than a mile from Bacara Resort & Spa, Sandpiper Golf Club offers breathtaking ocean and mountain views from every hole. But General Manager Kyle Oliver points to the 13th hole as one of the most iconic.
“Set along the coast of the Pacific Ocean, Sandpiper Golf Club’s 13th is one of the most scenic holes in California,” he says. “Very few golf holes feature the picturesque views and … [a] challenge quite like this 532-yard par 5. From the 13th tee box, the Channel Islands can be seen in the distance, along with whales frolicking in the ocean. At 532 yards away there is a tilted green that sits above a barranca and is hugged by deep bunkers. What makes this … an enjoyable hole is the risk-reward second shot. If you happen to get close enough off the tee, you will be faced with a 220-plus-yard second shot into the green with bunkers and ocean surrounding it.”
Just a half hour drive from Bacara, guests will find the Rancho San Marcos Golf Course, designed by legendary golf architect Robert Trent Jones Jr. The 6,939-yard par 71 course offers stunning views of the Santa Ynez Valley. Josh Pollaro, head golf professional, names hole 15 as his choice for most iconic.
“This hole’s name is Bear’s Back. It’s a dogleg left,” he explains. “It’s kind of up on a ridge and feels like a bear’s back.
“Most of the golfers will say it’s the most difficult hole on the course,” he continues. “It’s a very challenging shot off the tee with beautiful vistas of Lake Cachuma on the left. You have an overview of the rest of the golf course to the right, with cliffs on both sides and cliffs behind the green. It’s extremely challenging with no room for error. With the San Rafael mountain range in the background for your approach shot to the green, it’s a beautiful setting to go along with the rest of the golf course.”
For those looking to tackle Bear’s Back, Pollaro suggests a very precise draw off of the tee, leaving yourself an uphill putt on your approach shot.
Mild temperatures and the beauty of the mountains and the Pacific Ocean make golfing in the Santa Barbara area one of a kind—as do these two iconic golf holes.