Long Haul - Winter Travel Options - La Costa

La Costa Resort, Carlsbad, CA
After a $50million refit, La Costa is ready to take on the world again. 
Par 3 16th on the Champions Course
According to one 'Guest Service Attendent' who has been at the resort since 2002, La Costa seems to have been in a constant state of renewal and improvement in recent years. After a $40million modernization in 2003, it embarked on another - this one priced at $50million - in early 2010 and is now fully reopen, its 611 rooms more elegant, its meeting areas modernized, the 43,000sqft spa rejuvenated, the pool area updated (new swimming pool and whirlpool area restricted to adults), and the resort's championship golf course totally transformed.
The Champions Course began life as the North Course which, itself, was an amalgam of holes built first by Dick Wilson in 1964 and, in the 1980s, Joe Lee. The reason for the refurb was clear; largely because of the site's poor drainage, and perhaps a lack of investment over the years, the course was not looking its best. It didn't help that when the WGC Accenture Matchplay tournament was played here between 1999 and 2006 (not 2001), the event was often affected by heavy rain. Fact is, the course was, for better or worse, the face of the resort. And if the course looked tired, it obviously reflected badly on the resort.
Damian Pascuzzo and Steve Pate (who won the PGA Tour's Tournament of Champions here in 1988) were chosen for the job of bringing the North back to life, and were joined by fellow-designer Jeff Bauer. Together they have revitalized the course completing the job in an impressive ten months. Among the steps they took were relocating four greens, removing trees and 30 acres of irrigated turf, constructing two lakes, and building new tees (including family-friendly tees). They also returfed the playing surfaces, and rebuilt or repositioned the bunkers.
The redesign team also poured sand on the South Course's 1st, 9th, 10th and 18th holes which now drain beautifully and feel somewhat removed from the rest of the course which, though extremely pleasant, does suffer inferior turf conditions.
Prior to visiting La Costa in November, I had only seen it on TV during the WGC event, and remember not feeling terribly moved to arrange a visit. Now I'm eager to go back. The hotel is extremely well-appointed and the newly-renovated Champions Course is an absolute delight, albeit a very challenging one.





When to go: San Diego's consistent, unchangeable, semi-arid climate can be relied upon for good golfing conditions year-round. The winter temps are only ten degrees lower than summer's (65°-75°), while January and February each get just a couple of inches of rain. To increase your chances of an entirely rain-free trip with temperatures nudging 70 you may want to hang on until the last week of March or even April, but don't fret if you do go earlier, there'll be plenty of sunshine.

Green Fees: Not surprisingly, you'll pay top dollar for a round on the new Champions Course. Green fees start at $140 and move up to $210. A round on the South starts at $120 and tops out at $175. A two-night golf package with unlimited golf for two starts at $565.

Getting There:
Fly from Bellingham to Seattle, then direct from there to San Diego, with fares starting at $99 each-way (first flight in the morning). Alaska has seven flights a day from SEA to SAN.

Getting Around:
Car rentals available at San Diego Airport. La Costa is 32 miles north of the airport on I-5.

For the Non-Golfer:
 San Diego Zoo, San Diego Safari Park, LegoLand, beaches, Sea World, USS Midway, Balboa Park, etc - all good, but there's a lot to be said for spending a lazy day by the pool at the resort too.


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