Where I played: Omni La Costa Resort & Spa, future home of the NCAA Championships

Omni La Costa might be a resort, but that doesn't mean the two courses on property don't present some unique challenges.

Courtesy of Omni La Costa

Welcome to our “Where I Played” series, in which a GOLF staffer runs through a recent day at a course you might play in your future. On this occasion, we’re teeing it up at Omni La Costa Resort in Carlsbad, Calif.

There are few places in the U.S. with as much beauty as Southern California, and it sets the backdrop for some gorgeous golf. Such is the case at Omni La Costa Resort & Spa in Carlsbad, Calif. The resort offers a variety of amenities, although for our purposes we’ll focus on the 36 holes of championship golf. I recently got a chance to tee it up on both courses on the property, scouting out the future home of the NCAA Championships. Here’s what you need to know.

Course: Omni La Costa Resort
Tee time: 1:50 p.m., Friday, March 25 (Legends Course)
8:35 a.m., Sunday, March 27 (Champions Course)
Course type: Resort
Price: $185

The Champions Course at Omni La Costa Resort.

Courtesy of Omni La Costa Resort

Difficulty: We’ll start with the Legends Course, which I found to be the perfect balance between fun and challenging. The course is wide open off the tee, so even beginners can play without fear of losing too many balls. But there are still some challenges offered, from tricky greens to cleverly placed hazards. Keeping the ball in play shouldn’t be an issue, but that doesn’t mean you’ll automatically score well. Proper shots are still required to post a score in the 70s.

The Champions Course was a bit more of a challenge. Tee shots demanded much more precision, and bunkers guarding the greens were more dramatic and daunting — and that was before Gil Hanse got his hands on the course. With a planned renovation from the famed architect in the works this year, the course will only get better — and more challenging. It should be a perfect test for the top collegiate golfers when the NCAA Championships come to town.

How to get there: The resort is in Carlsbad, Calif., about 30 miles (~40 minutes) north of San Diego International Airport on Interstate 5, or 100 miles south of LAX if you’re coming from Los Angeles.

The Legends Course at Omni La Costa Resort.

Courtesy of Omni La Costa Resort

Fast facts: As mentioned above, Gil Hanse is set to renovate the Champions Course at Omni La Costa, with the Men’s and Women’s NCAAs set to be played in 2024-26. The event’s debut at Omni La Costa will mark the first time the Women’s NCAAs have been played in Southern California in 26 years, with the men returning for the first time since 2012.

Omni La Costa has hosted some marquee professional golf events as well. The Sentry Tournament of Champions was hosted from 1969 to 1998 at La Costa, as everyone from Jack Nicklaus to Tiger Woods competed on the grounds. Additionally, Omni La Costa hosted the WGC-Match Play in 1999.

Favorite hole: On the Legends Course, I loved the par-3 6th hole. The medium-length par 3 features a small stream that cuts through the hole, and culminates with a deceptively large putting surface. Don’t miss short, though. A runoff area short and left of the green leaves a tricky up and down for those who don’t attack the flag with enough club.

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I enjoyed the par-4 11th on the Champions Course as well. The scorecard yardage for this hole stretches to just 350 yards from the tips, but that doesn’t mean it’s a pushover. Water down the right and a deep fairway bunker on the left mean a properly placed drive is required if you want to make a run at the flagstick. This hole will test your mettle off the tee.

I loved: It’s tough not to love the views at Omni La Costa. The Legends Course winds through a valley with gorgeous hills (and homes) surrounding on all sides, while the Champions Course has a little more land movement on the opposite side of the property. After a winter cooped up in the northeast, both courses were — literally — a breath of fresh air.

I didn’t love: My score! It’s always tough to shake off the rust after some time off, and my rounds at Omni La Costa were a prime example. These might be resort courses, but they aren’t pushovers.

Final thoughts: Omni La Costa has everything you’d want in a golf resort. The service is top-class, the views are incredible, and the golf will leave you wanting to play until dark.

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Golf.com Editor

Zephyr Melton is an assistant editor for GOLF.com where he spends his days blogging, producing and editing. Prior to joining the team at GOLF.com, he attended the University of Texas followed by stops with Team USA, the Green Bay Packers and the PGA Tour. He assists on all things instruction and covers amateur and women’s golf.