Changes are afoot at Montecito Country Club, with new management and a makeover in the works for the 90-year-old landmark.
Ty Warner Hotels & Resorts, which bought the property several years ago, is working with golf legend Jack Nicklaus’ company, Nicklaus Design, on a course renovation and overall landscaping enhancements. The company has also asked Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts to assume management of the private club, 920 Summit Road. Four Seasons already manages two other Ty Warner properties, the Coral Casino Beach & Cabana Club and the Four Seasons Biltmore Resort.
“The team at Four Seasons already has great relationships with the members of the Montecito Country Club and know the facility well,” said Karen Earp, Biltmore general manager.
“We look forward to working with Ty Warner and the excellent team of club employees to seamlessly enhance guest services while preserving the casual elegance and family focus that defines the club’s social ambiance.”
Montecito Country Club general manager John Reagan said he was looking forward to a renovated facility.
“There are many exciting things in store for our club, from the infusion of new members as part of Ty Warner’s revamped club program to the new Nicklaus Signature Course and facility upgrades,” Reagan said. “It’s the perfect time to bring in Four Seasons. We value the expertise and the high standard of quality service they will bring to our renovated club.”
Ty Warner Hotels & Resorts plans to submit its revised Nicklaus Plan to the city of Santa Barbara next month. The updated Jack Nicklaus Signature Course calls for a balancing of slope angles to create a more organic undulation of topography; a new irrigation system and improved drainage that decreases water use and provides a more natural flow of water pooling and runoff; white sand bunkers; natural landscaping and water features; increased yardage; and a spectacular new first tee, which will capitalize on sweeping views of the ocean and downtown Santa Barbara.
Nicklaus said his team was eager to help.
“Montecito is a spectacular site with wonderful views and a rich tradition,” he said. “Our goal is to enhance its future by providing the membership a golf course that will enjoy and consider a great source of pride.
“Perhaps two of the main objectives in our design will be to soften the slopes, so members will have a better chance of keeping the ball in play and thus making the golf experience more enjoyable, and the other goal is to modernize Montecito from a length perspective. The course currently plays just over 6,200 yards from the back tees, and although our canvas to work on is only about 105 acres, we have found ways to stretch the course to perhaps just over 6,500 yards,” Nicklaus added.
“By today’s standards, Montecito will still be among the shorter courses, but some of the great courses in America — Merion (Golf Club in Ardmore, Pa.) is one that comes to mind — are not judged by length, but rather by the quality of the shot values and experience. Hopefully, with what we are doing at Montecito, not only will members be pleased, the course will earn the recognition and regard on a national level that it deserves.”
In addition to the course redesign, the plan calls for the realignment and renovation of four existing tennis courts and the rerouting of the entrance drive to include dramatic views of the ocean and the golf course. Ty Warner Hotels & Resorts also plans interior renovations.