Robert McLean, former owner of the Santa Barbara News-Press, transformed the landscape of Las Fuentes Rancho into what is now one of the most exclusive residential golf communities in the world: Birnam Wood, located in the sheltered eastern valley of Montecito, between the foothills of the Santa Ynez Mountains and the Santa Barbara coastline, about 1-1/2 hours north of Los Angeles by car.
McLean purchased the 223.6 acre lemon orchard in 1964 that had been processing lemons from central coast groves. He and his business partners, including realtor William W. “Pete” Sears, landscape architect Thomas D. Church, and golf architect Robert Trent Jones, Sr., created what Jones considered as the toughest short course in the United States.
The architectural firm of Warner, Morris and Wilson undertook the task of preserving and remodeling the old lemon packing house that Chinese stone masons hand built in 1892 from native quarried rocks. It stands as the centerpiece of the development, and is now an historical landmark.
Today, as in the past, parties from all regions of the United States have chosen Santa Barbara for its Southern California coastal location and mild climate, and have found common interests of relaxation, recreation, comfort, and security inside the gates of Montecito’ s Birnam Wood community. Many of the residences were built in the 1970s and 1980s and subsequently have become dated. Some have been extensively remodeled. Others are newly built. Because of the property profile, many of these homes sell quickly at a premium, especially if remodeled and updated to current construction standards, with professionally designed interiors, and beautifully landscaped gardens. Presently, the Birnam Wood Community consists of 140 homes, all built around the 80-acre, 18-hole golf course.
With a par of 70, the Birnam Wood 5,890 yard, Bermuda grass course has a rating of 68.7. In 1968, the course was built by the famous Robert Trent Jones, Sr. who described it as, "the best short course [he] ever built." There are 142 homes in the community, almost all of them lining the breathtaking golf course.
In addition to golf, Birnam Wood provides members access to a club house and six tennis courts. There are four hard courts and two Har-Tru courts which are made of a fast-drying crushed stone, allowing one to play through light rain.
Every property owner of Birnam Wood is required to apply for a Corporate Membership of the club. This allows access to exquisite cuisine and service. Providing a unique sense of community, members can engage in social events like themed dinner, summer barbeques, movie nights, golf and tennis tournaments, and group fitness classes. Visiting friends and family can stay in the club's guest cottages. With full access to amenities, guests will feel as though they are staying at a five-star resort.