Located in the golf mecca that is Southern California, La Costa Resort and Spa boasts two championship courses. Featuring a dual course layout-North Course and South Course-La Costa has seen play by virtually all the major golfers from Jack Nicklaus to Tiger Woods.
With courses designed by legendary golf architect Dick Wilson, the resort has been the three-time home of the World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship and is slated to host the tournament for the next four years. It has also hosted the PGA Tour’s Tournament of Champions for 30 years.
Both the North Course and the South Course feature lush fairways and flawless greens-and both present challenges for any level of play. Recently completed course work includes the addition of trees, bunkers and other hazards.
Originally featuring an 18-hole course built in 1964, the landscape has changed through the decades-eventually another 18 were added, creating the current two-course, 36-hole layout. Golf junkies believe holes 8 to 11 on the North Course are the best of the entire 36.
It’s interesting to note that both courses are combined for play during the renowned Accenture Match Play Championship, creating one awesome course that, unfortunately, is not available to those of us who golf in the real world.
We played La Costa’s North Course early in the holiday season while the resort staff was busy decking the halls with garlands of red and green. The traditional holiday trimmings presented an interesting contrast for a visitor from the Northeast about to tee off on a warm and sunny Southern California day. After a leisurely brunch on the clubhouse patio, we warmed up at the range, then proceeded to the first tee, where bets were made and the game of the day decided.
Keep in mind that the North Course holes 1 to 3 and 13 to 18 we played make up the first nine when championship golfers are on the course. Hey, what do Woods and Nicklaus have over my group?
At first glance, this hole doesn’t appear to be particularly difficult, but a review of the scorecard shows it presented a challenge for my group. We played from the blue (as we did for all of the holes reviewed here). This hole plays 396 yards, with bunkers to the right and left of the landing area off the fairway. Errant shots to the left can cause problems for your second shot due to overhanging branches from forward trees.
After warming up on the first hole, we moved on to the next hole designated for championship play-a 506-yard dogleg right. This hole is the No. 3 handicap for the North Course and presents a problem in the form of a water hazard to the right approach (landing area for your second shot). The water comes into play a little more to the left than you might expect. Four bunkers surround the green.
A tricky dogleg right with water running along two-thirds of the right side of the fairway makes this an interesting hole. Bunkers to the left of the fairway’s tee-shot landing area can
come into play if you run your shot along the right side or fade with the fairway. Take enough club for your second shot to avoid the defending front bunker.
Holes 8 through 11 are considered the best on the course because the water that comes into play creates a tranquil atmosphere. No. 11 is a good example, with water to the right side and surrounding the green. Bunkers are limited to one on the left of the fairway’s tee-shot landing area, two to the right side of the green (usual pin placement) and one on the right back side of the green.
Water comes into play again on this 358-yard par-4 hole with a sharp right dogleg. Three bunkers guard the left landing area, where overcompensating for the water on the right lands many tee shots. The fairway narrows to a throat in front of the green with a bunker on the left and the water on the right. Stray here and you’re in big trouble.
Play on La Costa’s North Course finishes with a 508-yard par-5 hole with water right off the tee box (that should not come into play) and a wide fairway for your tee shot landing. It’s reachable in two, but do not come up short as there is a stream before the green that can force you to lay up your shot. Bunkers on the right and left defend the green, presenting a challenge if you want to go for it and keep your shot on line with the pin.
$140 million facelift encompasses golf courses to guestrooms
When it opened its doors in 1965, La Costa Resort and Spa was one of the first U.S. resorts to feature a full-service spa. Four decades later, the resort is again in the news as it undergoes a $140 million renovation, including the new Spa at La Costa. Designed by renowned spa specialist Sylvia Sepielli, the 40,000-plus-square-foot indoor/outdoor spa features 42 treatment rooms, a pool, a Roman waterfall massage and an herb garden. The renovation also includes updates to the resort’s two Dick Wilson-designed courses in the form of new strategic bunkers, trees and several new tees.
In a nod to California colonial style, building exteriors have been painted white, and roofs
have been adorned with terra-cotta tiles. Interiors throughout the resort, including the 474 newly renovated guestrooms, feature light-colored walls contrasted by dark wood, wrought-iron railings, rich-toned marble and leather furnishings.
La Costa Resort and Spa, Costa Del Mar Road
Carlsbad, CA 92009, tel 800 854 5000
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