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:
In a field of weeds, dirt, and brush, players sprint between paint-splattered wooden barriers while colorful orbs whiz past. As combatants post up behind giant tractor tires and industrial tubing to settle on plans of attack, refs keep watch to ensure safety and fair play. When off the battlegrounds, teams can prep for future matches by gearing up at the pro shop, which stocks paintball markers, masks, and apparel.
Founded by a trio of athletic pals, LeftLane Sports vends top sporting gear and apparel brands boasting deep retail discounts. Among outdoors products, camping carryalls such as High Sierra Explorer 55 backpacks ($59.95) soothe shoulders with padded straps, and waterproof leather shoes by Teva ($44.95) keep tootsies dry during nature hikes or sober during grape-stomping tournaments. Ruffle-hemmed Fila skorts ($19.95) help tennis divas upstage homely opponents, and Puma running shorts with refractive trim ($17.45) keep nighttime joggers from being confused with local ninjas. With sport-specific Bern helmets ($39.95+), skateboarders, snowboarders, and wake-boarders can safeguard noggins from gnarly wipeouts. Buyers may use the value of their Groupon toward the cost of shipping. LeftLane Sports ships most orders in one business day.
Twin Lakes Golf Course is much more than the sum of its parts. With a 9-hole, par 28 executive golf course and practice facilities that include a driving range, 8,500-square-foot putting green, and chipping area, it gives players countless ways to better their game. Visiting players can hone short, half-swing approaches and full, walloping drives on holes ranging from as close as 70 yards to as far as 360, much as they would on a full-length course. The driving range also expedites the learning curve with full-flight Pinnacle range balls primed and ready to be pummeled from real grass or synthetic tees. In the short-game area, Titleist Pro V1 golf balls simplify the act of chipping onto the green or into target nets, even as players line up shots from nearby bunkers, slopes, and grasses akin to the rough and fairway. And when players are left with nothing else to do but admire themselves in the reflection of the nearest water hazard, Twin Lakes’ resident instructors—Don Parsons, Buff Platt, and PGA head professional Jim Ley—are there to take the reins and help clients shave off a few more strokes.
Eyeglass Factory combines 30 years of retail experience with a huge selection of stylish eyewear, which made it a finalist in the Santa Barbara Independent's Best of 2012 competition. After optometrists examine eyes at a convenient next-door location, customers can browse the collection of budget-friendly and designer brands. Staffers can handcraft lenses within onsite production laboratories in less than an hour, with the notable exception of clown-size prescription trifocals.
For more than 15 years, the caring crew at Eyeglass Factory has provided free services and glasses to people in the community who cannot afford vision care. Eyeglass Factory works in conjunction with Surgical Eye Expeditions International (SEE), a Santa Barbara–based nonprofit organization committed to ensuring that optical health is within everyone's reach.