NCGA Golf

Winter 2018

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Though I've got a college buddy who is every bit the wine snob portrayed by actor Paul Giamatti as down-on-his luck Miles in the movie, I opted to do the bond- ing on this trip with my wife, who tracks and rates all the wines she drinks on the app Vivino. We could've flown into Santa Barbara, but the drive up the coast on U.S. 101 is something to behold if you have time. Situated on the California coast be- tween the glitter, freeways and fast-paced life of Los Angeles, and the sophisticated, polyglot skyscraper culture of San Fran- cisco, Santa Barbara is an oasis that em- bodies all that is purely Californian: rolling surf, a seaside highway built for cruising and a hint of the offbeat. There are scenes of mountains rising above the town, of gorgeous houses, and of stores and restau- rants that practically vibrate with good taste. Of course, there is wine country. And just enough good golf to keep our type happy. More than any other city in the state, Santa Barbara maintains and reveres Cal- ifornia's Spanish heritage. The reverence is apparent in its architecture, which gives much of Santa Barbara the look of a city on the Mediterranean, and a sun-soaked, slow-paced style of living long forgotten in most of urbanized California. The Santa Barbara Mission, which was founded in 1786 by Franciscan friars as part of the trail of 21 Spanish missions that stretch along the California coast in their effort to convert local Indians to Roman Catholicism, is perhaps the most beautiful and still functions as a parish church. The Spanish buildings portray the story of a lost colonial world. In the late 19th century, Santa Barbara became a vacation destination for the wealthy from the East and Midwest. Then movie people from Los Angeles came up the coast for the more serene atmosphere and climate. Among those who loved to unwind in the area was former president Ronald Reagan, who owned a mountain ranch north of the city. Downtown Santa Barbara is known for its charming stores, galleries,and restau- rants. Most are on or near State Street, and many are in arcades drenched in Euro-Cal ambience. But you can shop back home. We had a tee time to make in Goleta. The kaleidoscope of green grass and ocean and mountains for as far as the eye can see when we walked around the hedges in front of the modest cedar-wood-planked pro shop at Sandpiper Golf Club set the scene for the round to come. This par-72 seaside course is flanked by mountains and rife with striking views of the Pacific. On several holes, retrieving wayward shots might require a snorkel and fins. Beneath its beauty lies a challenging 7,159-yard layout that has played host to professional events. The second, a long par 4, and the par 5 fifth were among my favorite of the inland holes. It is the several holes along the coast that make Sandpiper worth the green fee. The par 3 6th hole borders the ocean to the left and even the Romanian judge would give this beauty a 10. We played it into a four-club gale, on what was one of the windiest days anyone in our group could remember. Even the pond at 18 had whitecaps. Not even the howling winds could drown out the sound of waves washing up on shore at the downhill, par 3 11th, framed by palms, three greenside bunkers and the beach in the distance. Simply put, one of the most scenic–and scary–shots you'll ever face. The stretch 40 WINTER 2018 | NCGA.ORG VISIT SANTA BARBARA Chromatic Gate (top) at Santa Barbara's East Beach pays tribute to art and artists who make the city unique. La Purisima (below) is a mainstay on the list of the state's top public courses.

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