Address: 1950 Lemon Ranch Road
Status: On the market
The year that I started high school, my family moved to a development called Santa Fe Hills that sat smack-dab in between two golf courses.
We opened our front door on Sun Valley Road to view the gently rolling hills — and sometimes errant golf balls — of the nine-hole executive course. In the other direction, our backyard overlooked the 13th green of the 18-hole regulation course. My dad played golf every Wednesday afternoon and Sunday morning, and it was much to his chagrin that none of his daughters ever deigned to learn the game.
Nevertheless, Dad and I enjoyed plenty of pink-hued San Diego sunsets as we walked the dogs along the edges of the course at dusk, and my friends and I enjoyed a few forbidden late-night romps across the greens. Even though I never learned to play golf, I loved the setting, and it was a picturesque backdrop to my teenage years.
Last week, I had the privilege to visit the last lot at Birnam Wood Golf Club in Montecito. The exclusive enclave contains 142 single-family homes and only one remaining buildable lot, listed for sale just this week. When you hear the phrase “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” know that the chance to purchase the lot at 1950 Lemon Ranch Road is exactly that.
Located on a quiet cul-de-sac near the driving range and within easy walking distance of the clubhouse, the one-acre lot has gorgeous mountain views and backs up to the 15th hole of the golf course. Wayward golf balls won’t be a problem here like they were on Sun Valley Road. The home — which can be up to 4,500 square feet — won’t be bothered by any of the golfing action because the lot is perfectly situated toward the beginning of the hole, but after the tee.
Birnam Wood is a private, guard-gated community that was established in the 1970s. Its graceful single-story homes showcase an array of architectural styles. I cruised slowly through the manicured streets, trying not to gawk at the impeccably maintained homes that line the edges of the golf course.
The course itself was designed by Robert Trent Jones Sr. and is a respected 70-par course. All households in Birnam Wood belong to the golf club. In addition to golf, they enjoy tennis courts, bocce, a fitness center, and a beautiful clubhouse with a bar and dining room serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The community includes cottages near the clubhouse that members can rent for visiting guests.
The present owners moved to Montecito in the mid-’80s and lived in upper Hot Springs Road. They often visited friends who lived in Birnam Wood and developed a deep fondness for the community, taking frequent walks through the neighborhood.
They recall loving the mountain views, fresh air, and calls of the birds. The wife recently reminisced that Birnam Wood offers “long stretches of green grass that bring tranquility to the soul.” She specifically remembers admiring the manicured yards, and that each home was so unique. The couple purchased the land on Lemon Ranch Road in 1995, intending to build their dream home as “the perfect place for their family, and eventually to retire.”
Their lives took a different turn, however. They sold their hilltop estate and have since lived in various parts of the country. Nevertheless, they shared that they have never regretted their decision to buy the land at Birnam Wood. They have reconciled that while they won’t build here, they hope that someone else will be able to make their own dreams come true.
When I visited just before sunset last week, the mountains glowed pink and purple, and the vistas were spectacular in every direction. As I watched the last golfers finishing up for the day, I flashed back to my years on Sun Valley Road. I’m still captivated by my memories of sunsets over the golf course. Hopefully the new residents of this home-to-be will feel the same and will enjoy many sunsets for years to come.
1950 Lemon Ranch Road is listed for sale in Montecito by Chase Enright of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties. Reach Chase at (805) 708-4057 or ChaseEnright@bhhscal.com.