Many Santa Barbara golfers have heard about a course at Vandenberg but are not really sure how to get there, or if it is open to the public. The course is wide open to public play and the drive in is worth the visit alone. When you arrive you will be treated to a day at Southern California’s hidden gem, Marshallia Ranch Golf Course.
The Road In
One of the real treasures of golf outings along the Central Coast is the scenic vistas that unfold along the way. The road to Marshallia Ranch is no different. As you head inland from Los Alamos along Road 135, ranches and vineyards line the valley road. I always take the short cut on San Antonio Road East but make sure you use navigation—this road is so isolated you will feel lost until it hits Hwy. 1. From there it is a quick left and then a right back onto San Antonio Road and to the course. Vandenberg is a massive expanse of property and Marshallia Ranch sits on one of its most remote parcels. The entrance is lined with huge eucalyptus trees all the way in along the right side with the 18th hole in plain view.
A few years back, they completely renovated the clubhouse at Marshallia and did a great job. The authentic Spanish theme to the structure fits in perfectly to the hilltop setting framed by groves of Euchs. From the clubhouse the view extends over the First Tee to the practice range with much of the base in view. There are almost no structures in view, just nature and you will certainly see deer grazing along the range when golfers are not present. The restaurant is very reasonable with good food. Pro shop prices are also lower than most and it is usually fully stocked.
The golf course opened in 1958 and was the work of Bob Putnam. It is annually ranked one of the best military courses in the nation, having played host on several occasions to the Air Force Championship. Putnam carved this layout out of a forest of trees set on sandy rolling terrain. Some of the best par fours in the county are here with accuracy as must. Take the tight 5th hole, which tops out at a bit over 400 yards but plays tough. Usually into the wind, it requires an accurate drive and approach if par is the object. The 16th hole on the back nine is also a well-earned four. At 430 yards it plays much longer uphill and into the wind. The green is no picnic either with a severe tilt right to left.
Walking this course will produce the best experience and it is open to the public. Weekdays are generally no problem and weekend afternoons also readily available. Make sure you do bring a sweater as the sea breezes can make for cooler weather. Also be sure to check the route before you leave as many golfers get lost on their first go out.
The fall season brings more dependable weather as you head north for golf. This typically lasts all the way to December. The best days occur when there is a Santa Ana condition down south. On those occasions, Marshallia gets the warm weather without the wind. Many area golfers like to stop at Ellen’s in Buellton for breakfast on the way up. Maybe the Hitching Post for dinner coming home?
By Courtesy Photo