My Favorite Hole
he Santa Barbara area is blessed with a number of
excellent golf courses, both public and private, and
virtually all have ocean views from some vantage
point. Only one, however, is a true oceanfront course:
Sandpiper, the William F. Bell-designed, Ty Warner-
owned, 38-year-old seaside links just north of Santa Barbara and
perhaps twelve miles from Montecito.
Seven of its holes actually touch the ocean, and I’ve played there over
a hundred times, often alone, except for the company of a pair of red-
tailed hawks that have made their home at the top of a nearby Cyprus.
Once, I shared the fairway with a fox carrying dinner in its mouth, and
another time, surprised by a lone coyote seeking a meal. The par-
hole is home to migrating geese and ducks, which are loath
to move out of the way for oncoming golfers and whose pellet-sized
excrement makes for even slicker putts on the already fast green.
Sandpiper’s signature hole, however, is the par-five number 13.
Hole 13 isn’t particularly difficult (#4 handicap), or particularly
long (532 yards from the back tee, 516 from the intermediate), but
it is devilish and deceptively tempting. Big hitters go for the green in
two, which requires a 200-plus yard second shot over a yawning
barranca into the face of a steep greenside bunker, and often into an
onshore breeze. The Pacific Ocean beckons nearby, down a hundred-
Lesser men (like me) try to lay up our second shot as close to
the edge of the barranca as possible, requiring little more than a
235-yard drive and a 160-yard lay-up second shot. Then, the often-
daunting third shot over the barranca and bunker, onto a small green
protected by another bunker and native chaparral ocean-side. Misses
are frequent, but the shots that land on the green are so satisfying, so
completely exhilarating (setting one up, of course, for a birdie putt), as
to make this my favorite hole in all of Santa Barbara County.
Sandpiper Golf Course tee times and info: 805-968-1541
by James Buckley