La Costa reopens Champions course

La Costa reopens Champions course
Sean Dudley

The renovated Champions course – formerly the North course at La Costa in southern California has reopened.

The ten month renovation saw design firm Pascuzzo & Pate, along with fellow golf architect Jeff Brauer, modify all eighteen of Dick Wilson’s original holes, with a particular focus on improving drainage. The project cost was estimated at US$10 million. Four holes on the course are completely new designs.

We are excited to begin a new chapter in La Costa’s legacy,” said Paul McCormick, the resort’s general manager. “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.”

Significant alterations to the contours of the Champions course 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. More than 30 acres of turfgrass was eliminated from the Champions course to conserve water use. Fairways have been planted in 419 bermuda, while paspalum has been planted in roughs and native areas. Greens are bentgrass.

“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, in association with former ASGCA president Jeff Brauer, on the project. “We did a lot of research before starting work on this site.”

Pate, who won the 1988 Tournament of Champions at La Costa, is well placed to reflect on the legacy of La Costa. “I always thought La Costa was one of the greatest places in the world,” said Pate. “I know that this project will do justice to Dick Wilson’s work here and it will be a fitting tribute to La Costa’s legacy.”

“This was a technically complex project,” said Pascuzzo. “We have been able to La Costa an ideal combination of championship challenges within a user-friendly golf facility appealing to members and resort guests.”

The golf course renovation project is part of an overall US$50 million investment by its owners, KSL Capital Partners. The year-long project also included modifications to four holes on the South course.

“Unlike many courses in today's climate, we're actually investing in the property,” McCormick said. “There are very few new courses being built or renovated this year, so from our standpoint, this is a great opportunity to restore the lustre to La Costa’s courses during a down business cycle and when things turn around, we’ll be ready with a fresh new product.”