I recently took a (much needed) trip down to Southern California to meet up with a friend and play some golf. The trip was sort of a last minute thing, we had been planning to go in April, but business dictated that we go sooner. In the end, it worked out great!
The SoCal residents didn’t like us much because we showed up and the temps dropped. We must have brought the cold air with us, because after 2 weeks in the 70’s the temps dropped 20 degrees. But it was still warmer than Chicago, so I was happy!
Our first round was up in Santa Barbara – at the “Poor Man’s Pebble Beach” – Sandpiper Golf Club. Set along the Pacific coastline, Sandpiper is the first course on the ocean south of Monterey. Obviously the views were spectacular. Along with those views came some great elevation changes and a well designed golf course filled with character.
The practice area was nothing special, but I could definitely get used to practicing with that view! The putting green needs to be flattened, as it was hard to find any putts that rolled straight – which made for some negative thoughts as we headed to the first tee.
We got paired with a father and son from Orange County, CA, Danny & Curtis. While the round started quietly, the four of us warmed to each other (as is almost always the case in golf – what a game!) and were fast friends by the end of the day.
Designed by William F. Bell in 1972 on a site which was bombed by the Japanese during WWII. The designer used every inch of the available shoreline – with some or all of 7 holes hard against the cliffs. The 11th green and 12th tee are literally ON the beach!
While the conditions could have been slightly better, Sandpiper is a fantastic value, at $115 on weekdays (VERY reasonable for SoCal!). We battled a stiff wind the entire round, with what seemed like a constant 20+ mph breeze whipping off the ocean. This affected every shot, including putting – which made for a tough day – especially considering I introduced a new putter to the bag for this trip.
Be sure to stop in Santa Barbara for dinner before you trek back to L.A. We chose Santa Barbara Shellfish at the end of Stearns Wharf and we were not disappointed. A pretty awesome place to take in a California sunset, the dinner was beyond good with some classic seafood selections.
If you’re staying in L.A. and you have the time, I highly recommend Sandpiper. Worth the drive. I loved the layout, and the value is unbeatable. Put this course further south and you could easily double the price! The course was very playable – if we could’ve just removed that damn hurricane! And the views were EPIC!