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La Costa Resort and Spa - The New Champions Course at La Costa

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La Costa Resort and Spa - The New Champions Course at La Costa
La Costa Resort and Spa - Champions Course, Hole 11

La Costa Resort and Spa - Champions Course, Hole 11

Photo Courtesy La Costa Resort and Spa
La Costa Resort and Spa was always intended to be one of the world's top destinations, both as vacation spot and for championship golf. Established in 1965, La Costa immediately became synonymous with the legendary champions in the game, who for nearly 40 years competed in prestigious events that shaped La Costa's legacy as one of the world's top golf destinations. Today, the tradition of world championship golf at La Costa is being ensured by one of its own, Steve Pate, who wrote his name into the La Costa history book by winning the 1988 Tournament Of Champions. Pate, now a golf architect partnered with acclaimed golf course designer Damian Pascuzzo, is a key figure in the trio of visionaries who have completely renovated 18 holes at the resort into the new Champions Course at La Costa (formerly the North Course).

Under the direction of Pascuzzo & Pate Golf Course Design, the remodel project addressed all 18 holes on the Champions Course (formerly the North Course), as well as the opening and closing holes on each nine of the South Course (1-9-10-18). The Champions Course features strategically designed and repositioned bunkering, refined fairway routing, expanded native grass areas, and subtle elevation changes that contribute to a challenging and engaging golf experience. Four holes on the Champions Course are completely new designs.

"We have a lot of respect for La Costa's original design and have maintained its integrity," said Damian Pascuzzo, who teamed with partner Steve Pate, along with Jeff Brauer, on the project. "We did a lot of research before starting to work on an historical golf site like this."

While all the greens on the Champions Course were replaced, only the four greens on the South Course have been relocated, with the South Course routing remaining intact. Significant alterations to the contours of the fairways - which have been capped by 3,000 truckloads of sand - along with advanced drainage technology have improved water flow throughout the entire 36-hole venue, significant to maintaining world-class playing conditions year round.

More than 30 acres of turfgrass have been eliminated to conserve water, with the Champions Course remodel incorporating more extensive use of native grasses. The new greens are Bentgrass, featuring internal contours that create movement in the putting surface. The fairways are 419 Bermuda, while the rough and newly established native areas include paspalum, a drought- and salt water-tolerant turf. Several new lakes have been added, as well.

"We are excited to begin a new chapter in La Costa's legacy," said Paul McCormick, vice president and general manager at La Costa Resort and Spa. "La Costa has been synonymous with the top echelon of golf for more than 40 years, hosting 37 PGA Tour events. It is important that we keep its championship spirit alive."

Just as quickly as it established its reputation for championship golf, La Costa also emerged in the 1960s as a favorite retreat for celebrities. In the early days of La Costa, club members included Frank Sinatra, Bob Hope, Dean Martin, Bing Crosby and Desi Arnaz, who played (on and off the course) alongside pals like Clint Eastwood, Andy Williams and James Garner.

But it was the arrival of the PGA Tour's Tournament of Champions in 1969 that put La Costa on the world golf map for good. The TOC, reserved for only the tour winners from the year, presented a field each year at La Costa that for 30 years rivaled any tournament in the world. La Costa's list of champions reads like a "who's who" in golf history - from Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player and Lee Trevino, to Johnny Miller, Lanny Wadkins and Tom Watson.

More recently, the prestigious Match Play Championship (1999-2006) and the LPGA Tour's Kia Classic (2010) lured names like Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, as well as Hall of Famers Juli Inkster, Lorena Ochoa and Karrie Webb. And the Kia Classic returns to La Costa in 2012, renewing the resort's championship legacy.

The golf course renovation project is part of an overall $50 million investment in the resort by its owners, KSL Capital Partners.

"La Costa is one of the greatest places in the world," Pate said. "I know that this project will do justice to Dick Wilson's work here and is a fitting tribute to La Costa's legacy."

Wilson designed La Costa's first 18 holes in 1965, while his partner, Joe Lee, added nine holes in 1973 and the final nine holes in 1984. Since it opened in the coastal foothills north of San Diego, La Costa Resort and Spa has a long, distinguished history with the greatest players in golf, dating back to the 1969 TOC.

Expanding to six sets of tees on the Champions Course, La Costa is even more family friendly, presenting golf that is suitable for champions and children alike.

"Our goal is to unveil an ideal combination of championship challenges within a user-friendly golf facility appealing to members and resort guests," Pascuzzo said.

By restoring the spirit of La Costa's timeless appeal, the new Champions Course is a true reflection of the resort's rich golf history and tradition, and thus it takes its rightful place among the best golf resorts in California

More Golf Courses and Resorts in Carlsbad

La Costa Resort and Spa, 2100 Costa Del Mar Road, Carlsbad, CA 92009; 760.438.9111; 800.854.5000; Website

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