La Costa Resort and Spa: Retrace Steps Of Golf's Legends

By David R. Holland, Contributor

They call it the "Legendary" La Costa for many reasons, but for golfers it's legendary because the game's greatest players have been coming here for more than 30 years -- Nicklaus, Palmer, Trevino, Player, Miller, Crenshaw, Kite, Mickelson, Duval, Woods, Lehman.

La Costa Resort and Spa was home for 30 years to the PGA Tour's Tournament of Champions format, known for the past five years as the Mercedes Championship. But last year it changed to the World Golf Championship-Andersen Consulting Match Play Championship, and if you were watching you would remember Jeff Maggert chipping in on the 38th hole of the final match to defeat Andrew Magee.

The upcoming event is scheduled for February 23-27, 2000.

"One of my most pride-filled moments was when the PGA players voted unanimously to play the inaugural World Golf Championship here at La Costa," said Director of Golf Gary Glaser. "It was truly the strongest field ever assembled. They invited the 64 best players in the world and for the first time, I think, all 64 were here. I don't know if that has ever happened.

"La Costa is one of the truly great, fair golf courses. It will challenge anyone who plays it. It's hard to get hot because of the pin placements and the bunkers are really tough. I don't think we have ever had a runaway tournament," Glaser said.

If you come to La Costa wanting to retrace the footsteps of these champions you need a map because they pick and choose the holes used for the PGA Tour.

The original 18 holes were designed in 1961 by Dick Wilson. "Many pros think Wilson was one of the best at bunkers," Glaser said. Joe Lee designed the "outside" newer nines.

The course was enlarged to 27 holes in 1973 and another nine was added in 1985 for the present 36 holes. The two new nines were added to the outside of the original nines, dividing the layout into the North and South Courses, but also splitting up the original 18 for everyday play. So when you play the North today it consists of one of the newer nines and one original nine. Confused?

For the PGA Tour the tournament course consists of holes 1, 2, 3 and 13-18 of the North Course while the entire back nine of the South Course is used.

The North Course plays 7,021 from the tips, a 74.8 rating and 137 slope. The South Course comes in at 7,004, a 74.4 rating and 138 slope. The tournament course record was recorded by Lee Janzen in 1995 with a 63. The greens are bent grass and the fairways are bermuda overseeded with rye.

The most interesting nine is the North's backside. There's water on every hole except the par-3 12th, a 221-yarder and the 17th. No. 14 has water splitting the fairway in two places requiring a target shot on this 447-yard par-4 for the pros, the No. 2 handicap hole.

You will recognize No. 16 from the televised event. It's a scenic par-3, 189 yards over water. It's easy to hit the green only to bound over into a sand trap. Then you must face a scary downhill explosion. Hit it too long and it's in the drink.

Of course, La Costa is more than two golf courses. If you'd like to fine-tune your game, Mark Moore runs the La Costa Golf School.

Tennis anyone? How many resorts do you know of that provide three surfaces? Grass, clay and composite makes La Costa a tennis destination. There are 21 courts in all, including a "center court" for professional matches.

La Costa is equipped for the biggest of events, or smaller conferences including the recent Republican Governor's Conference. Banquet and conference facilities offer 50,000-square feet. The Pavilion offers an outdoor setting with 10,000-square foot facility overlooking the golf courses. There's also a Grand Ballroom suitable for everything from black-tie events to fun and casually-themed functions, too.

Need a limo to go to Sea World or the San Diego Zoo? La Costa can arrange it.

The La Costa Spa prides itself on pampering the guest. The amenities include use of saunas, whirlpool baths, rock steam rooms and Roman pools. Also, the resort offers a choice of several swimming pools, sun decks and a water complex that features a scenic koi-filled lagoon and cascading waterfall.

Massages, facials, manicures, pedicures and many European body treatments are here. Skin treatments include a herbal wrap. There are fitness experts to counsel you and even nutrition counseling.

Naturally La Costa has a Millennium New Year's Eve Celebration package. Just call for the details. La Costa has five restaurants, including Pisces, a gourmet seafood restaurant.

CHIP SHOTS: Early winners of the Tournament of Champions pocketed $10,000. Phil Mickelson took home more than $300,000 for his victory in 1998.

For Women and Seniors: Come on down. La Costa's membership includes many seniors and women and you will enjoy the hospitality.

La Costa Resort And Spa
North and South Courses
Costa Del Mar Road
Carlsbad, California 92009
E-mail: for more information
Phone: 760-438-9111
Fax: 760-438-3758

Directions: From San Diego take Interstate 5 north and exit on La Costa Avenue. Travel east to the first major intersection (El Camino Real). Make a left and the courses are approximately a mile down on the right.

Various awards:
American Express: "Finest Golf Resorts".
Links Magazine: Best of Golf, Top Resorts.
Golf for Women: Top Women-Friendly Courses.
Golf Digest: Best Places to Play.
Golf Magazine: Silver Medal Award.
The Golfer Magazine: World's Top 100 Golf Resorts.
Golf Week: California's Top 50 Courses.
Meetings & Conventions magazine gave La Costa one of the highest accolades for outstanding meeting facilities, the Gold Key Award.

Photos courtesy La Costa Resort and Spa

David R. HollandDavid R. Holland, Contributor

David R. Holland is an award-winning former sportswriter for The Dallas Morning News, football magazine publisher, and author of The Colorado Golf Bible. Before launching a career as a travel/golf writer, he achieved the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in the Air Force reserve, serving during the Vietnam and Desert Storm eras. Follow Dave on Twitter @David_R_Holland.

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