The Club at La Costa in Carlsbad, thirty miles north of San Diego, has been soothing the nerves and tightening the tummies of harried executives, overvexed celebrities, and ageless matrons since 1965. The ingredients for relaxation at this sumptuous decompression chamber are as appealing as one of its spa cuisine entrées: two fine golf courses, a composite of which was played when the Tournament of Champions was played here for thirty years before moving to Hawaii in 1999.
Bordered on three sides by haystack-shaped hills studded with expensive homes, La Costa’s 400-acre spread is centred on its golf courses, the most significant sections of each were designed by Dick Wilson, with later additions and modifications by Joe Lee. There is little to choose between them. Each is an excellent, beautifully conditioned layout with enough water and sand in play to keep the most skilful players alert.
The above passage is an edited extract from Golf Resorts of the World – The best places to stay and play by Brian McCallan.
La Costa also hosted the inaugural WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship in 1999 and this event was held at the resort for seven out of eight years before moving to Arizona in 2007. The LPGA Tour’s Kia Classic tournament was also played here in 2010 and 2012.
In more recent times, the layout has been renovated by Damian Pascuzzo, along with Steve Pate and Jeff Brauer.
Did not like it, my takeaway boring and expensive with lots of bunkers. Also, even though Southern Cal is desert, there was a lot more water than i expected. Good example on the par 5 2nd, it sneaks up on you on the right. The par 5 6th has 8 bunkers, fortunately, I only visited 3 of them. I would say the par 3 8th is long but there is a longer one. All carry over H2O be smart, middle of the green. The par 4 415 yard 9th dogleg right, you tee off out of a chute, carry H2O right. Don't cut too much or you end up in the water but don't go too straight or you will end up in a bunker. Really? The 10th is a par 5 dogleg right, be wary of the left, water all the way down that side after it doglegs. The 12th is just a grab you by the throat 244 yard par 3. This is benign compared to 14, a 493 yard par 4 that is bisected twice by a stream. The 8th is almost 600 yards, carry over water, but be careful as there is water left and right of the landing area.
Save your $$$
I have played La Costa Champions several times as I am local to San Diego. La Costa has hosted PGA, LPGA, and Senior Tour events; so a good historical pedigree.
Champions is a very challenging course; mostly because large and strategically placed bunkering. You will be in sand a lot during the day from both off the tee or greenside. Conditioning is always stellar. Great practice area. And the resort facilities are top-notch.
The 'body of work' from an architecture perspective is very good - a good tournament course. The primary negative is that the holes blend together; too similar.
La Costa is rich in history, having been the site of the Mercedes Championship for many years with golfing great like Jack and Tiger winning the tourney. The course recently underwent major renovations including turf removal and a redesign of four of the holes.
The conditioning of the course was excellent. Greens rolled true, fairways in great shape and the rough was penal but playable. The routing of the course also makes sense with the terrain. For the most part you playing up and back on a valley floor that is hemmed in by houses and hillsides (a little too hemmed in by houses for my taste). There are many water features on the course, several holes play across a stream and there are beautiful lakes framing the back nine holes.
It was a very pleasant day of golf on a good golf course but I just can't call it great. The streams and lakes are beautiful but there is a sameness forced by the topography that starts to creep into the holes and the mostly flat terrain doesn't help matters. The 11th hole is boffo and the back side really is something but you end up wishing the front side and the topography were different or more engaging.
Really enjoyed the course and while parts of it are great, the resulting sum of its parts are good not great.