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La Costa North for NCAA

La Costa Eyed as Permanent NCAA Golf Venue

The newly refurbished North Course at Omni La Costa Resort & Spa presented a challenging environment during the NCAA Division I men’s and women’s golf championships. The greens were exceptionally hard, as is typical before the root structure matures, causing many shots on the signature 16th hole to bounce into bunkers.

This scenario symbolized the initial concerns for La Costa hosting the championships in 2024, 2025, and 2026. However, the ambitious goal is to make La Costa the permanent site for these championships, akin to Omaha for college baseball or Oklahoma City for college softball. The NCAA Division I golf committee will decide on the 2027 and 2028 hosts this fall, giving La Costa a one-year audition to secure its place as the long-term venue.

Positive Feedback from Coaches and Players

“I’m not being arrogant about it,” said Texas men’s coach John Fields, whose school served as the official host. “But I do think we stood up to the plate, took one curveball, took another curveball, and then hit a fastball right out of the park. … It’s been kind of a dream come true.”

Fields, who initiated the idea, has strong connections with Robert Rowling, owner of Omni Hotels, and designer Gil Hanse, who transformed the North Course into a 7,538-yard challenge with elevated greens and native grasses. The consensus among coaches and players was positive.

“I would love this to be the permanent site,” said Trey Jones, Florida State men’s coach. “The hospitality from the resort and the San Diego community was exceptional. There are aspects they’ll tweak, but those are manageable. It’s an honor to be here.”

“This place is awesome,” added J.M. Butler, Auburn senior and key player in the Tigers’ first men’s national championship. “The setup with the residences, practice facilities, and closing holes on the back patio is very cool. I hope it stays here for future years.”

The 600-room resort’s on-site accommodations, Pacific time zone for prime-time TV coverage, and unique course layout allow fans to see multiple matches at once. The temperate May climate — upper 60s, overcast, breezy — is also a significant advantage over other regions.

Overcoming Course Preparation Challenges

Despite the exceptional venue, the course faced challenges. Permitting and construction delays, combined with a wet winter, pushed the project close to the women’s tournament start on May 17. Unplayed by anyone, the greens were too hard, the bunkers too fluffy, and the rough too sparse. However, efforts to soften the greens and prepare the course paid off.

“It could have been a nightmare,” Fields admitted. “But we forged ahead. We softened the greens as much as possible, spray-painted patchy areas, and hoped for the best.”

While there were some high scores due to wayward shots, no one found the course unfair. “I love this course,” said All-American Ben James of Virginia. “You can’t fake your way around it. It exposes every part of your game.”

The stroke play average scores were identical for men and women at 75.25, or 3-over par, indicating the course’s demanding nature. Both winning teams, the Stanford women and Auburn men, were ranked No. 1 and won in dramatic 3-2 match play finals.

“It separated the best,” said Florida State’s Jones. “And that’s what coaches want.”

Fields added, “I don’t want it to get softer. A good shot should be rewarded, and anything less should be penalized. This course identified the best players and teams. Par was a good number.”

As they await the committee’s decision, Fields hopes for a prompt confirmation. “I hope they don’t wait that long,” he said. “I’d like them to just say, ‘Great job, we’ll see you in 2027 and 2028.’”

The next decision will determine if La Costa can become the permanent home for the NCAA golf championships.

Golf at La Costa

Want to experience the beautiful newly-renovated North Course at La Costa for yourself? Request a tee time or give us a call today. We can help you book your tee time at La Costa North and other San Diego golf courses, including Torrey Pines!


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