Legends Course holds its own at storied Omni La Costa Resort and Spa in Carlsbad

By Mike Bailey, Senior Staff Writer

CARLSBAD, Calif. - The Legends Course at La Costa Resort and Spa rates narrowly easier than La Costa's Champions Course, but anyone who's played both par-72 golf courses knows better.

La Costa Resort and Spa - Legends golf course - no. 1
The par-4 first hole on La Costa Resort and Spa's Legends Course crosses a stream to a well bunkered, small green.
La Costa Resort and Spa - Legends golf course - no. 1La Costa Resort and Spa - Legends Course - hole 10La Costa Resort and Spa - Legends Course - hole 6La Costa Resort and Spa - South Course - hole 15
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Legends at Omni La Costa Resort & Spa

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2100 Costa Del Mar Rd
Carlsbad, California 92009
San Diego County
Phone(s): (760) 438-9111, (760) 931-7595
Website: omnilacosta.com
18 Holes | Resort golf course | Par: 72 | 6996 yards | Book online | ... details »

While the Champions (74.9 rating) includes a few more forced carries, the Legends (74.8) is tighter, with smaller landing areas and a few more out-of-bounds areas.

Dave Doerr, director of golf at La Costa, described the Legends Course as a "traditional, mid-1960s kind of course," with its pinched fairways, well bunkered and small, rounded greens.

"There may be some slope to the greens," Doerr said, "but they're just small and rounded, which is what you saw in that era. If I'm looking for a challenging golf course, I would rather play Legends."

In other words, if you want to think and grind out a round of golf, the Dick Wilson-designed Legends Course is for you. Part of it is for the tour players, too.

La Costa resort and the LPGA's Kia Classic

As a longtime PGA Tour host -- most recently the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship before it moved to Tucson, Ariz., in 2007 -- La Costa is accustomed to serving as a big stage for golf.

So when La Costa Resort and Spa and the LPGA Tour got together for the new Kia Classic in 2010, it was a natural fit.

Like previous professional events at La Costa Resort and Spa, the Kia Classic combines holes from the Champions and Legends Courses. The tournament mixes the original nine of the Champions -- before Joe Lee built the outer nine in 1989 -- and the back nine of the Legends.

The Legends holes form the front nine for the Kia Classic, but nowhere among them sits the hardest hole on the golf course. The third hole reserves that honor. A narrow par 4 that plays 467 yards from the tips, it culminates with a well bunkered, small green. Par is a great score, and bogey is more than acceptable, even for good players.

In truth, the front side includes many of the more memorable holes on the golf course. The sixth is a great, little par 3 with a stream that runs diagonally in front of the green. It's especially tough into the wind. More water crosses in front of the green at the ninth, a 500-yard, risk-reward par 5.

The back nine, of course, is more recognizable from its years as host of the match play event in addition to the PGA Tour's Tournament of Champions (now the SBS Championship played in Hawaii). For example, the 15th, a short par 4, showcases two bridges, water off the tee and in front of the green. The short, dogleg left also offers plenty of tree trouble for tee shots that stray left. And the 18th, at just 400 yards, includes two imposing fairway bunkers that players must avoid, coming into a severely sloped green.

The Legends Course at the Omni La Costa Resort and Spa: The verdict

Only after I played the Champions Course a day later could I put the Legends Course in perspective. Indeed, the Legends can be a grind. Use patience and take what the course gives.

With homes crowding it a little more than the Champions, Legends is not quite as picturesque. But from the back tees, it is more demanding.

Large greens generally fill modern golf courses, so the Legends offers a nice change of pace. If you hit a lot of greens, it means you've done well with your irons and that birdie opportunities await. On some holes, a fairway wood or a hybrid might be more appropriate off the tee. You just have to think a little.

Both La Costa golf courses were extremely well conditioned during my visit, and the Poa greens ran so smooth they almost fooled into thinking they were bentgrass. The fairways and bunkers were also extremely well conditioned.

La Costa Resort and Spa: Practice facilities and lessons

KSL Resorts, which owns and operates La Costa Resort and Spa, recently spent nearly $2 million to upgrade the practice facilities. The renovation included an expansion of the tee area on the grass driving range and the addition of an extensive short-game area that includes pitching greens, fairways and two-deep practice bunkers.

Lessons are available from the excellent staff at the La Costa Golf Academy. Renowned teacher T.R. Marritt heads the school. Guests can book sessions by the hour, series or half day. Group lessons and clinics can also be arranged.

Dining at La Costa Resort and Spa

Despite the great selection of restaurants in the San Diego area, there's really no reason to go off-campus at La Costa. The Legends Bistro at the clubhouse provides excellent breakfast, lunch and dinner. And the signature BlueFire Grill overlooks the resort's plaza.

Mike BaileyMike Bailey, Senior Staff Writer

Mike Bailey is a senior staff writer based in Houston. Focusing primarily on golf in the United States, Canada, the Caribbean and Latin America with an occasional trip to Europe and beyond, he contributes course reviews, travel stories and features as well as the occasional equipment review. An award-winning writer and past president of Texas Golf Writers Association, he has more than 25 years in the golf industry. Before accepting his current position in 2008, he was on staff at PGA Magazine, The Golfweek Group and AvidGolfer Magazine. Follow Mike on Twitter at @MikeBaileyGA and Instagram at @MikeStefanBailey.

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