Last Thursday, I ventured out to play golf. As time has passed while I have been here at UCSB, I have come across several people that once played golf in high school and don’t anymore, primarily because it is prohibitively expensive. As most of you know, golf courses vary in quality and with that variation also comes price extremes. The cheapest round of golf that I have ever paid for was 10 bucks, back when being a minor meant sweet junior discounts. The most expensive round I know of is one at Pebble Beach Golf Club in the Monterey golf course. Walking the links that Tiger Woods walked on his way to a 2000 U.S. Open title will set you back a whopping $495. But don’t worry, that includes a cart.
When I moved here to Santa Barbara I was forced to hang up my cleats and I left my clubs at home. I figured that in this ridiculously pricey area there was no way I would be able to afford golf. Without the skills to score a spot on the golf team, and thereby ensure free golf on a daily basis, I gave up hope.
But late last year I discovered Sandpiper Golf Club. Driving by on my way to the freeway, the course appeared to be a poor man’s Pebble Beach. The course runs along the beach north of Sands and looked incredibly nice from the road. It wasn’t until this past week that I decided it was worth a gander.
The course itself is pretty nice. It is not the best maintained one I have ever played but is definitely not the worst either. Each hole is different, challenging you in a different way with every stroke. The front nine stays closer to the road and away from the beach with a couple exceptions while the back nine went right down to the sand.
Unfortunately, it took a couple holes to get the kinks out of my stroke and the first nine holes absolutely owned me. However, by the back nine I seemed to have reclaimed my game and shaved a full 10 shots off my total from the front nine. (Keeping the ball on the course was particularly helpful in this regard.) The back nine also delivered an incredible wind which pushed my ball side to side in the air like a drunk freshmen during fall offensive.
In addition, the course provided me with a perfect view of the hills above Santa Barbara, which were unfortunately engulfed in flame. The winds that had tormented me on the 13th hole had whipped the fire into an all out firestorm that was raging across the entire hillside.
Fortunately, as I write this the fire is holding steady at 80 percent containment, meaning that life in Santa Barbara can return to normal and that my column about golf can run without coming off as insensitive.
The big question is whether to actually shell out the cash to play Sandpiper – the course is actually really expensive. Typical greens fees are $159 on the weekends. However, there are cheaper ways to play the course. There is a twilight fee after 2 p.m., which is only $74. Last but not least, there may be a UCSB student discount in the near future. The head pro informed me that he is considering a “super twilight” greens fee that is aimed to introduce students to the course, although he was quick to point out that drunken misconduct would put an end to the deal rather quickly.
Ultimately, I would recommend the course. While I don’t think it is worth $159, it may be worth $74 at least once and will probably be worth whatever package they come up with. There are definitely cheaper options out there, and I encourage you to check them out. But I don’t think that any of the other courses in our immediate area are going to be as much fun to play as Sandpiper.