The drive to Cypress Ridge offers the kind of scenery that has drawn us all to this part of California. Breathtaking ocean-to-island views up the Gaviota Coast give way to the rolling oak-studded hills of the Santa Ynez Valley. Just a bit further north lies Cypress Ridge Golf Course set in the hills south of Arroyo Grande and not far from the Nipomo Dunes.
Like the fine wine you can expect from the vineyards planted on the way north, Cypress Ridge has improved with age. The small trees that lined the fairways when the course opened have now grown up — way up. The course has the same look and feel as our mature country club courses in Santa Barbara.
The front nine is fairly hilly as it winds its way past small farms and homes that line the hilltops well back of play. The toughest hole on this nine is Number 8, which can stretch out to 445 yards. This uphill dogleg right par 4 requires accuracy and length off the tee and an even more precise approach to the green guarded by deep bunkers. A par here will be remembered at day’s end.
The back nine is more level and has a strong finish. The 16th is a tough uphill par 4, followed by the tight downhill par 3 on 17. The Cypress pines guarding this green can no longer be cleared by most, so accuracy is a must here. The 18th is a classic risk-reward par 5, where big hitters will feast if they find the rather small fairway.
Cypress Ridge was designed by PGA Tour star Peter Jacobson and his longtime teacher Jim Hardy. They have created a layout that is fun for all players and has enough game for even the best. The course has also been designated a “Signature Sanctuary” by Audubon International. Cypress Ridge can be walked, and they have pull carts available. Visit CypressRidge.com for complete details.
On the way up you might take in breakfast at Ellen’s Danish Pancake House in Buellton. The food is great, and the servings are hardy. Make sure you are hungry. If you play at noon or later, consider hitting the legendary Jocko’s Steakhouse in Nipomo on the way home. The spencer steak is out of this world and 19 ounces big. For a small price you can upgrade this by 10 ounces. The big one could feed my entire family. They also have a superb trout entrée on the menu. No doubt you will have a doggy bag when you leave that will make those waiting at home very happy. Make a reservation ahead of time, as this restaurant is popular year-round.
The coast route would always be my first choice, although you may find Highway 154 about 15 minutes faster. For an even more scenic route, you may want to consider taking Highway 1 through Lompoc and Vandenberg. This path is a bit more rural as you pass through an agricultural mecca. An even more adventurous path would be to take Amtrak from Santa Barbara to Guadalupe. From here it is about a 15-minute drive to Cypress Ridge. Maybe you could convince your playing partners to drop you or pick you up at Guadalupe for a one-way train ride. This leg is perhaps the most scenic rail ride in the country. The route takes you to beach areas near Point Conception only known to expert surfers.
Recently I got a new SLDR Rescue Hybrid from Taylor Made Golf, a must for all players trying to keep pace with the continued improvements in golf technology. This club makes it easy to hit out of tight lies or heavy rough and makes seemingly long carries over bunkers easier for all players. Why? Probably the new Speed Pocket design that allows for faster initial ball speed spread along a wider clubface area. This new technology also lowers the spin rate to increase distance. I can even turn this 3 Hybrid into a driving iron by closing the club face and putting it back a bit in my stance. Check out TaylorMadeGolf.com for more information.