CARLSBAD — The upgrades continue at the Omni La Costa Resort & Spa, with its newest project breaking ground on Jan. 20 to renovate its famed Champions Course as it prepares to host three consecutive NCAA Division I women’s and men’s golf championships beginning May 2024.
The renovation and ensuing NCAA championships mark the beginning of a new chapter at one of the country’s most-iconic golf resorts. Work on the course, expected to take more than one year, will be led by Hanse Golf Course Design, founded by architect Gil Hanse, who recently designed Fields Ranch East at the soon-to-open Omni PGA Frisco Resort in Frisco, Texas.
“We are excited to officially kick off this work with Gil Hanse, Jim Wagner and the rest of their team,” said Kurt Alexander, president of Omni Hotels & Resorts. “We believe that the Champions Course will be one of the marquee courses available to the public in Southern California after this renovation and is another example of Omni’s commitment to elevating the experience across our golf portfolio nationwide.”
Hanse and the team will implement significant design changes with the NCAA’s match-play format in mind — chief among them will be challenging players with more risk-reward decisions throughout their rounds. Further inspiration for the work will be drawn from classic Southern California courses, as aesthetics are tweaked to give the Champions Course a more proper sense of scale and place.
Specific changes planned include the creation of a drivable par-4 on the 11th hole, a repositioned green on the par-3 16th hole reminiscent of Augusta National’s 12th hole, and a reachable par-5 on No. 18 with its putting surface brought closer to the existing creek. The course will play as a par-72 and can play from 4,300 to 7,500 yards to accommodate players of all skill levels.
Other considerations in this project are environmental. For example, transitioning irrigation lines will continue to use reclaimed water, remove man-made ponds, and reintroduce natural barrancas composed of drought-tolerant and native species.
“The setting and surrounds of the Champions Course lend themselves to a golf experience that looks and feels authentic to Southern California,” Hanse said. “Our design work will bring more simplicity and elegance to course aesthetics. This will be accompanied by a strategic focus balancing enjoyment for everyday play by members and resort guests, with shot-making requirements that test the best of collegiate golf.”
The golf course work at Omni La Costa is planned to be joined in the coming months by another project focused on reimagining the resort’s golf practice facility. This project will be led by Beau Welling and his firm, Beau Welling Design. The focus will be on elevating the practice experience with a newly lengthened driving range and expanded short game area.
Like the golf course project, the practice range upgrades would incorporate a new state-of-the-art irrigation system to allow the facility to maintain efficient water usage for sustainability while still exhibiting the highest maintenance standards.
“Omni La Costa was the site of victories by a “who’s who” of all-time golf champions, such as Gary Player, Tom Watson, Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods, and we look forward to welcoming the next generation of greats to play on the Champions Course,” said Randy Zupanski, managing director at Omni La Costa Resort & Spa. “We are thrilled to have Gil and Beau help us take our golf experience to another level and have our resort guests and club members enjoy this highly anticipated re-design.”
The Champions Course renovation is the latest step in the resort’s planned evolution. The first phase in 2021 included a design refresh of the lobby and adjacent Bar Traza, culminating in the unveiling of the Costa de la Luna ballroom, increasing the resort’s total meeting space to over 100,000 square feet.
Later this year, the resort is undergoing a complete renovation of The Spa, guest rooms and suites. Additional phases will be announced and rolled out over the next several months.