Golden Bear visits Santa Barbara’s Montecito Country Club to oversee construction of the Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course

Golf legend Nicklaus is personally overseeing the course redesign; clubhouse renovation to follow

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The total redesign of the Montecito Country Club, a staple of the Santa Barbara, Calif., community, is underway and its evolution to a Jack Nicklaus Signature Course took significant strides on Dec. 11 with a site visit from the Golden Bear. Construction of the long-anticipated course redesign, led by Jack and his team from Nicklaus Design, is expected to be complete by the first quarter of 2017.

During his visit, Nicklaus provided feedback and direction on the closing three holes that had been rough-shaped. He then moved to the first 15 holes, where he provided strategy and additional ideas, even punching the sky at one point with a “Yahoo!”

“I think we had a terrific site visit and made tremendous progress,” Nicklaus said. “I think we have something special in the works. I think we used the word ‘sporty’ during the visit to describe some of the golf holes.”

Nestled in the hills of Montecito, overlooking the Pacific Ocean, the course was originally designed by Max Behr and opened in 1922. The site is highlighted by natural elevation changes and stunning views of the Channel Islands, Santa Ynez Mountains and famed downtown Santa Barbara.

The Golden Bear was brought in to breathe new life into this historic layout, which once hosted star-studded events during Hollywood’s Golden Age. Now, Nicklaus is personally overseeing the Montecito Country Club course redesign to a Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course, the highest distinction from Nicklaus’ renowned firm. Nicklaus Design is widely regarded as the world’s leading design firm, with close to 400 courses open for play in 41 countries and 39 states.

“We are excited to get this project underway,” Jack Nicklaus said. “Montecito is in an ideal location, plays across a wonderful piece of property, and takes advantage of tremendous coastal and mountain views. Our hope is that the golf course design will not only highlight the existing natural features of the property but enhance them. We have been given a great opportunity on a classic site to create something very special.”

The course renovation plans include features to significantly improve the club’s efforts to conserve water, such as a new, state-of-the-art, water-saving irrigation system; a reduction in irrigated turf from 95 to 75 acres; conversion of existing potable water lines to recycled water lines for all landscape; and a more drought-resistant turf.

These initiatives, plus strategic reshaping of the course and sediment basins, will result in the vast majority of storm-water runoff being collected, routed and treated before leaving the property.

The water-wise changes also made it possible to improve the pool complex as part of the club renovation, including a family pool and lap pools. Work is expected to begin on the pools and pool-service buildings before the end of 2015.

The clubhouse remodel is expected to get underway starting in early 2016, with reopening targeted for early 2017. Improvements include the clubhouse renovation; a new member event lawn; a new golf cart storage building; updated parking lots; a new upper maintenance facility; and extensive landscaping.

“We’ve gone to great lengths with the Nicklaus Design team to create a unique experience for our members and guests, and the result is a world-class course,” said Bill Medel, project development manager for Ty Warner Hotels & Resorts. “The new Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course, along with the extensive clubhouse and facilities renovation, will offer members an unparalleled experience that Ty Warner is well known for.”

Members will have the opportunity to play at the Sandpiper Golf Club or Rancho San Marcos courses during the Montecito Country Club course renovation.