Rancho San Marcos Golf Course - hole 12
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Rancho San Marcos Golf Course - hole 12
Looking back from the 12th green at the Rancho San Marcos Golf Course. Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor
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Rancho San Marcos Golf Course - hole 4
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Rancho San Marcos Golf Course - hole 4
No. 4 at the Rancho San Marcos Golf Course. Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor
Rancho San Marcos Golf Course - hole 5
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Rancho San Marcos Golf Course - hole 5
Stay right on the par-3 fifth hole of the Rancho San Marcos Golf Course. Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor
Rancho San Marcos Golf Course - hole 6
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Rancho San Marcos Golf Course - hole 6
The 629-yard sixth hole on the Rancho San Marcos Golf Course is one of the longest par 5s in California. Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor
Rancho San Marcos Golf Course - hole 10
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Rancho San Marcos Golf Course - hole 10
The short risk-reward, par-5 10th hole of the Rancho San Marcos Golf Course. Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor
Rancho San Marcos Golf Course - hole 11
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Rancho San Marcos Golf Course - hole 11
No. 11 on the Rancho San Marcos Golf Course. Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor
Rancho San Marcos Golf Course - hole 12 uphill
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Rancho San Marcos Golf Course - hole 12 uphill
The par-5 12th hole on the Rancho San Marcos Golf Course climbs uphill. Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor
Rancho San Marcos Golf Course - hole 14
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Rancho San Marcos Golf Course - hole 14
No. 14 is the second of back-to-back par 3s on the Rancho San Marcos Golf Course. Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor
Rancho San Marcos Golf Course - hole 15
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Rancho San Marcos Golf Course - hole 15
The fearsome 15th hole on the Rancho San Marcos Golf Course. Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor
Rancho San Marcos Golf Course - hole 16
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Rancho San Marcos Golf Course - hole 16
Going downhill offsets the length of the 223-yard 16th hole at the Rancho San Marcos Golf Course. Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor
Rancho San Marcos Golf Course - hole 18
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Rancho San Marcos Golf Course - hole 18
The par-5 finishing hole on the Rancho San Marcos Golf Course. Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor

Go low on the Rancho San Marcos Golf Course in Santa Barbara, California

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Don't be surprised after playing the Rancho San Marcos Golf Course if your scores are lower than normal.

Not that the 6,939-yard par-71 course is a pushover. A favorable routing by Robert Trent Jones Jr. lacking a traditional set of men's blue tees makes all the difference in your quest to conquering such a beautiful canyon course. Jones II designed six par 3s and five par 5s - holes that are more ripe for scoring than par 4s. With only three sets of tees to choose from, most golfers play from the 6,278-yard white tees, which leaves one short par 4 (the 318-yard third) and one short par 5 (the 473-yard 10th) vulnerable to more scoring opportunities.

There are no homes to bother you, only grand views of the surrounding mountains. The site in the rugged Santa Ynez River Valley still feels off the grid. It was founded in the 1800s by the Santa Barbara Mission as an outpost with a chapel, living quarters, a granary, wine cellar, livestock pens and dwellings for the Chumash Indians. A plaque detailing this history is located near the 11th tee. Later, the lands became a working cattle ranch and farm. Ty Warner, the man known for creating 'Beanie Babies', owns Rancho San Marcos today.

It's a great place to play, even when the course browns out during the heat of the southern California summers. It also provides great contrast when paired with Warner's oceanfront Sandpiper Golf Club . They are a one-two punch as interesting as anywhere in California.

Local California Golf Advisor 'nickesquire' added this in his four-star review : "I really liked the layout, ZERO houses nearby, just surrounded by mountains and open space. Well worth the drive."



Jason Scott Deegan has reviewed more than 700 courses and golf destinations for some of the industry's biggest publications. His work has been honored by the Golf Writer's Association of America and the Michigan Press Association. Follow him on Twitter at @WorldGolfer.
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