Your Guide To Affordable Golf In Santa Barbara


Golf is most likely not the first thing that comes to your mind when thinking of Santa Barbara. However, the golf scene is way above average, in fact it is excellent. 

There are six public golf courses in the Santa Barbara county and four of them are only thirty minutes from downtown. All of our local courses offers their own style and personality, which makes our beloved town a great spot for both professional and beginners. The most famous public golf course is the amazing Sandpiper. Sandpiper provides a breathtaking ocean-front course and it requires a high level of skills. If you want quality, you have to pay for it, but with no student discounts and a standard fee of $150, it won’t make our list. However, I have recently played Santa Barbara Golf Club and Twin Lakes Golf Course, which is two great courses for a student budget and different skill levels. Especially Santa Barbara Golf Club, which is a underrated local classic for only $20. That is the best $20 I have spended for four hours of pure happiness.

Santa Barbara Golf Club #3

The beautiful local classic, Santa Barbara Golf Course 

I started playing golf at the age of 8 and has been playing plenty of tournaments during my younger competitive years. I have always loved the game and I have been coaching young golfers for a couple of years. The driving range is perfect facility for practising, which I would say is a must before the first tee shot. My personal goal before teeing off at the classic Santa Barbara Golf Club was to reach a score of five strokes above par.

Trying to shake of all the rust in my swing

Santa Barbara Golf Club opened in 1958 and has been a local classic ever since. It is quite easily to lose focus sometimes and be amazed with the sweeping views of the Santa Ynez foothills and the Pacific Ocean. The course measures 6,037 yards from back tee. Some short par 4s, many man-made hazards such as bunkers, relatively wide fairways are some characteristics, which reflects how golf courses was created around the 1960. Some golfers believe that short golf courses equals a better score, but I wish it was that simple.

Hole 7 is one of the few long par 4 and is considered the most difficult hole. 435 yards to the green and in order to make it to the green in two strokes, it is necessary to hit a driver. From tee, it looks like a easy shot but there is a lake on the left hand side, which you can’t see from the tee box. Aim towards the right side of fairway in order to avoid the water hazard and it is also easier to hit the green on your second shot from the right side of fairway.  

When arriving at hole 9, there is a phone booth next to tee that will automatically call the family-owned golf restaurant, Mulligan’s Cafe. Ask for their tri-tip sandwich and if you are over 21, I will recommend an ice cold beer. The ninth hole green is next to the restaurant, so when you finished putting, your delicious meal and cold drink will be there waiting for you. Well spended $15 for getting charged up again. If those cold refreshing drinks wasn’t enough for you, there is a golf cart driving around the course selling affordable beers, cocktails and sodas. Enjoying a tasteful lunch and cold beers with my golf mates is according to me, one of the highlights during a round of golf. This is usually the reason why I play my best golf during the last nine holes. I was four strokes over par after first nine holes. I finished six strokes above par, so I played the last nine holes very well. I didn’t reach my personal goal of 5 strokes above par, but I was satisfied anyways.

Santa Barbara Golf Club have some great student rate specials. $20 to straight up play and if you’re looking more convenience, I would suggest paying an extra $10 to get a golf cart. I would highly recommend to call them a few days in advance to book a tee time. The demand by the golf community to play this course is high and that is always a great sign.


Student Rate Special at Santa Barbara Golf Course

$20 to walk, $30 to ride.

Tee off after 10am any day. Bring your student ID.



The first hole at Twin Lakes

Twin Lakes Golf Course is also a public golf course and it is a great place to practice. The Twin Lakes atmosphere is way more relaxed than the usual golf courses. The vibe is more inclusive for beginners and a regular golfer may find it a bit unserious. This course is rarely packed, which allows players to take extra time before and after every shot. There are only nine holes and eight of them are par 3’s. In other words, you can only pick up the driver at hole 8. With that many short holes, it takes approximately one and half hour for four players to finish. The Twin lakes is great in that sense, it does not require you to take the whole day off just to play golf. It is also great for more spontaneous students, you don’t necessary have to call in advance to book a tee time. I have never call in advance to Twin Lakes and the most I have waited is 10 minutes.

Twin Lakes does not have a restaurant but they do sell local beer for $3. I highly recommend purchasing one and drink it when celebrating a great shot. The Twin Lake facility is mainly focused on golf practices. The driving range and putting green take up a large portion of the grounds. Before teeing off I would recommend spending some time at the driving range or if you want to keep on practising to improve even more after finishing playing. You will receive 35 balls at the driving range for $6. If you want to become the next Tiger Woods, get the “Jumbo deal”, which is 145 balls for $18. That will have you entertained for a while.


I read the greens in English, but I putt in Spanish

I had the pleasure to play with the Twin Lake course with Rick. Rick is a Santa Barbara local who plays here at least once a week. He was praising the early bird and explained very passionate how there is no better way to start a day than at the golf course. His wife was not as pleased with Rick’s big golf interest. His wife had told him the other day that “When I die, bury me on the golf course so my husband will visit”.

Twin Lakes Golf Course is a great choice for larger crowds with mixed skill levels. The course contains for a few man-made hazards such as bunkers and unfortunately because of the drought, the water hazards lacks water. This makes the course relatively easy, but some holes are still challenging. There is no need for a golf cart because the course only contains of one par 4. When arriving at hole 8, which is the par 4, I highly recommend a longest drive competition. The rules are very simple, the person that hit the longest shot and is laying on the fairway wins. A mixture between power and precision.


The whole left side on hole 8 is out-of-bounds, so I highly recommend aiming towards the right side of fairway. Hit the ball with a draw to get some extra distance to secure the victory in the longest drive competition.

 Twin Lakes Golf Course have some very attractive rates. Students pay $12 dollars any time or day for playing this charming short course. If you are an early bird, this might be the best option for your wallet. If you are playing before 9 AM, it is only $8 dollars so you pay less than $1 per hole. This is a perfect sport activity for those who is having afternoon classes.


Student Rate Special at Twin Lakes Golf Course

$12 any day or time. $8 early bird special before 9AM.

Bring your student ID.


I highly recommend playing both of these courses and I can almost guarantee you will enjoy every second of it. Maybe not when shooting the ball straight into the forest, but the best advice I can give is to always focus on the next shot. Everyone misses, even Tiger Woods have missed the ball when he started to figure out how to master the game. Golf is basically endless learning. Golfs help to improve the technical, psychological, and physiological aspects of your athleticism. I would recommend playing the Twin Lakes early birds special first because the whole course is way easier than Santa Barbara Golf Course. Twin Lakes requires precision in order to get a great score. It is not time demanding at Twin Lakes, so find a upcoming sunny morning to play. $8 for 9 holes, it is a fantastic deal.

After you successfully finished the Twin Lake course, it is time to play the real deal. Call Santa Barbara Golf Course a few days in advance and preferably book a tee time around 10am because then you will have lunch after hole nine around 12pm. $20 to play and $10 extra to get a golf cart. If you are a two people it’s only $5 dollar each and the golf cart will make your experience better. Less focusing on walking around and more focusing on preparing for the next shot. Golf as any other sport brings out plenty of emotions, so if you wish to hide your character, do not play golf.


About Author

Christoffer Kjellberg

Christoffer Kjellberg is a Business Entrepreneurship & Marketing major at Antioch University of Santa Barbara. Born and raised in Stockholm, he decided to start living a life abroad after his high school graduation. For the last five years, he has been living in Australia and California which has broaden his cultural understanding and he is always looking for more global experiences. Apart from enjoying other cultures and socializing around the globe, he lives and breathes soccer & golf. Therefore, he wants to pursue a career that involves his two biggest passions, marketing & sports.

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