Hidden Oaks Golf Course, a leisurely nine-hole, par 27 course designed by 51-time PGA Tour winner Billy Casper and owned by PGA pro Dave De Heras, bursts with foliage and boasts magnificent views of the Santa Ynez Mountains. Amateurs and pros alike can chip and putt their way across the scenic 107 yards of the second hole, and use mind control to wrangle rogue golf balls roaming the grassy 152-yard ninth hole. Throughout, club-swinging duos are accompanied by the sultry breezes of the Pacific Ocean, swaying trees, and hungry sand traps scheming to swallow any golf balls or circus-grade swords that should fall into their grips.
Officially opened in July 1962, Village Country Club incorporates the natural beauty of Northern Santa Barbara County’s wine country as its backdrop. Towering oaks and pine trees play a starring role throughout the course, especially on the 10th hole. There, a stately oak stands right in the middle of the fairway, marking the course's signature challenge and the location of its treasure chest of golden golf balls. At the 16th hole, meanwhile, an elevated tee tempts players to let it fly, all while avoiding a lake and brook running the length of the hole’s left side.
Next to the course, club visitors can practice on the driving range or at a practice green outfitted with a sand bunker. Or, they can step away from golf altogether by taking a dip in the pool and hitting the tennis courts—each of which remains open year-round.
Course at a Glance: * 18-hole, par 72 course * Total length of 6,546 yards from the back tees * Course rating of 71.5 from the back tees * Course slope of 128 from the back tees * Four sets of tees per hole
Since it opened in 1986, La Purisima Golf Course has collected nearly as many accolades as it has wayward golf balls. Known as "La Piranha" to regulars, the course has appeared in numerous publications, often for its challenging layout. Golf Digest ranked it 33rd on its list of the toughest courses in the country, and Golf Magazine placed it among the top 100 public courses in the country for nine years in a row.
It may seem like architects Kenneth Hume Hunter, Jr. and Robert Muir Graves teamed up to punish the Santa Barbara golfing community, but that's not the case at all. Instead, they shared a vision for the 309-acre plot as a pure version of golf unencumbered by real estate developments and novelties such as manmade waterfalls or hydraulic-equipped carts. The result is a long, enjoyable, and, yes, difficult test of the game that rewards bold shot selection and precise play across a naturally undulating landscape in the heart of wine country.
Course at a Glance: * 18-hole, par 72 course * Total length of 7,105 yards from the back tees * Course rating of 75.6 from the back tees * Course slope of 143 from the back tees * Four sets of tees per hole * Scorecard