Club History

The legend lives on.

In the early 1900’s Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway Company purchased 8,796 acres on which to cultivate more than one million Australian eucalyptus seedlings for the manufacture of railroad ties. Severe drought in 1912, followed by the worst freeze in 40 years killed approximately 70% of the trees. The railway company abandoned the project after new chemicals were produced to protect railway ties from decay. The railway company secured rights to a water supply and through its subsidiary, the Santa Fe Land Improvement Company, financed the development of a master planned community, which would be named Rancho Santa Fe.

In August of 1927, the Santa Fe Land Improvement Company donated 219.1 acres suitable for a golf course; the Rancho Santa Fe Country Club was incorporated September 26, 1927. Golf course architect Max Behr was hired to design and implement the construction of the golf course. Mr. Behr molded the natural contours and beauty of the terrain into its original layout, a 6,700 – yard, par-72 golf course which opened June 5, 1929.

Entertainer Bing Crosby began hosting the pro-am “Clambake” in 1937. The golf event paired celebrities and businessmen with professionals for a 36–hole weekend event. The “Clambake” was held annually through 1942. Other prestigious events held at the Rancho Santa Fe Golf Club include the San Diego Open held in 1954 and won by Gene Littler, and the 101st Edition of the SCGA Amateur held in 2000 was won by Scott McGihon.

The Rancho Santa Fe Association took over operation of the golf course in 1934 and operated it for 25 years as a public facility. In 1960 the Association was asked by its membership to restrict the use of the golf course to Association members only and to lease the golf course operations from the Association. The Association agreed to restrict the use of the golf club to Association members only and in 1978 added the ownership of covenant property as a condition of membership. It was not until 1987, that the Rancho Santa Fe Golf Club was established as a division of the Rancho Santa Fe Association with managerial, operational and financial responsibility for all golf activities.

In 2000 a Short Game Practice Area was created in conjunction with expansion of the Driving Range, giving Rancho Santa Fe Golf Club one of the finest practice facilities anywhere.

On November 1, 2002 the golf club completed a major renovation of the golf course expanding it to its current layout, a 7035 yard par 72 distinguished as one of the finest “walkable” designs in the world. The course reopened to accolades from the membership and the professional golf community.

In 2004 the USGA awarded Rancho Santa Fe Golf Club the right to host the Junior Amateur Championship in 2006. The tournament was successfully hosted with a portion of the proceeds going to Pro Kids Golf sponsored by The First Tee, San Diego.

As the Junior Am came to a close, work began on the major clubhouse renovation. The golf shop was completely torn down and replaced with an expanded building housing a cart barn, golf shop, locker rooms and bar. The clubhouse was enlarged to include more special event rooms, a large kitchen facility, business offices and expanded dining areas. The Clubhouse reopened in December 2007 and the Player’s Clubhouse opened shortly after in January 2008.

It is with excitement & enthusiasm that we look forward to having you join us as we write the next chapter in our club’s distinguished history.