La Costa Resort & Spa (Champions) Carlsbad, Calif. 7,172 yards, par 72 Green fees: $185-$240 800-854-5000 lacosta.com When the PGA Tour last visited La Costa in 2006, the course was a soggy, muddy mess. The WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship picked up stakes for the dry Arizona desert and has remained there ever since.
However, with an inspired make-over of its North course (now called the Champions course) by architect Damian Pascuzzo, his design partner Steve Pate and collaborating architect Jeff Brauer, La Costa is again a Tour-caliber destination.
Long a fabled spa and tennis retreat for Hollywood's elite, La Costa's golf legacy was established in 1969, when Gary Player captured the Tournament of Champions. Subsequent winners here included Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson, Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods.
Last November, the Champions debuted to very sunny reviews. Every tee, green and fairway on the layout is brand-new, and four holes are completely redesigned, notably the short par-4 15th. Massive, artfully sculpted bunkers have also been repositioned in the style of La Costa's original architect, Dick Wilson. And a revamped filtration system was put in place.
The result is...more. More drama, more variety and more risk/reward decisions. Tiger, Phil—come back anytime.
(Photo: Evan Schiller)