NCGA Golf

Winter 2018

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from Nos. 10-13 was our favorite. It's definitely a course I relish another shot at someday, perhaps when the fan isn't blow- ing at 11. A short drive away is the town of Mon- tecito, a luxurious suburb of Santa Barbara where the Four Seasons Biltmore Hotel has reigned since 1927. We checked in to this lovely complex of Spanish-style, white stucco, red-tile-roofed buildings, on the ocean's edge. So close, in fact, that you can fall asleep to the soundtrack of the tide play- ing in the background. It beats any lullaby. Hotel guests at the Four Seasons Bilt- more receive complimentary membership to the Coral Casino Beach and Cabana Club. Opened in 1937 and restored to its original splendor, it remains one of the region's most exclusive, storied and glam- orous landmarks. This is a perk to be enjoyed and we wasted little time walking the short distance to Tydes, the club's main restaurant. We sat outside, where heaters were at the ready. We listened to our wait- ress, Alana, and weren't disappointed in our selections of salads, seafood and other seasonal, fresh California fare. The wine list, as you might expect, was vast and out- standing. We agreed it was one of the best meals we'd had all year. In the morning, we enjoyed many of the club's amenities, especially its 50-meter pool, which is heated to 80 degrees year-round. It's tough to beat sitting in the hot tub with panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean and see dolphins breaching in the distance. It's even tougher to check out by noon. We could've spent the day lounging poolside, but another tee time awaited. Just 75 miles northwest of Los Angeles is Ojai (pronounced "OH-high"), a small hamlet tucked into the mountains of western Ventura County. Ojai Valley Inn and Spa was originally designed by George Thomas, whose work included Riviera and Los Angeles CC, in 1923. Using the natural lay of the land to provide for bunkers and other hazards, Thomas built a nine-hole course over dramatic ravines that a Los Angeles newspaper at the time called "the cream of our Southern California courses." It has stood the test of time. Each hole truly has a personality of its own. A second nine was later built and in 1988, the course and the greens were toughened considerably by designer Jay Moorish. At 6,292 yards, it's a par 70 course with five par 4's over 400 yards and two par 3's over 200 yards. But pay absolutely no attention at all to its size. It is a triumph of design over distance. The Ojai course was the site for seven PGA Tour Champions events. In 1999, the 16th and 17th holes, which had been aban- doned during World War II when the U.S. Army utilized the hotel as a training camp, were restored in exacting detail. On the grounds of the 220-acre resort featuring Spanish-style adobe buildings and trickling fountains, sage-colored stands of oak and eucalyptus frame maple trees with flaming leaves. And, to the east, the Topa Topa Mountains provided a foil for Ojai's "Pink Moment," the minutes of reflected sunset that bathed the valley in a rosy color when we finished our round before dusk. That night we dined at Lucky's Steak- house, which tabs itself as Montecito's sec- ond living room and clubhouse, and it had a cozy vibe to go along with heaping orders of steaks, chops and seafood. Come early and order the Grass Skirt Martini—it's a secret only locals know about—at its invit- ing old-school bar with wainscoted walls and framed wine bottle labels signed by those who enjoyed them. You won't be 42 WINTER 2018 | NCGA.ORG BARBARA KRAFT The 8th hole at The River Course at the Alisal (right) is the setting of the golf scene in "Sideways." Guests at the Four Seasons Biltmore Santa Barbara enjoy access to the Coral Casino Club and Cabana, including its 50-meter heated pool (top).

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