Stay & Play: Southern California’s Premier Golf Retreats

A trio of seaside resorts and their picture perfect golf courses designed for a cool Southern California fall

Omni La Costa Resort & Spa

Located 30 minutes north of San Diego on the beautiful coastal foothills of Carlsbad, Omni La Costa Resort & Spa is one of the great Southern California retreats. From the second you step foot onto the stunning grounds, you will enjoy the serene setting and breathtaking views of the Batiquitos Lagoons as well as the well-manicured golf courses surrounding the resort. Omni La Costa Resort & Spa features more than 600 rooms, suites, and villas that are well appointed with luxury amenities and views. With 36 holes of phenomenal golf, out-of-this-world cuisine, tennis courts, a spa, and eight swimming pools—including family-friendly waterslides and splash pads in addition to the Edge adult pool—there is sure to be something for everyone at Omni La Costa Resort & Spa.

La Costa Golf offers  its guests 36 holes of golf on a celebrated course that has welcomed the world’s best golfers: Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, and Phil Mickelson to name a few. La Costa has hosted many historic PGA Tour and LPGA Tour events, most notably  the Mercedes Championship as well as the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship. The Champions Course is the only Dick Wilson–designed golf course in California. Wilson made sure to feature many subtle and well-placed hazards and bunkers to present his guests a great challenge to enhance the beautiful and perfectly manicured golf course. Playing from the back tees will present great difficulty to even the scratch golfer, as the tree-lined course stretches out to just under 7,200 yards from these boxes.

But Wilson did a phenomenal job of taking into consideration the fairness to all levels of golfers, offering six different tee boxes, the shortest of which is only 4,350 yards. With its bent grass greens and Bermuda fairways, you are sure to feel like a pro when playing the Champions Course. Although the Champions Course receives the great majority of the recognition and accolades at La Costa, the Legends Course is not to be overlooked. Opened for play in 1965, this resort-style course is more forgiving but does not lack any beauty or attention to detail. Water is quite frequently in play, particularly with the picturesque San Marcos Creek weaving its way through the more generous fairways. Both courses are must plays while visiting the north San Diego community.

The Resort at Pelican Hill

Located just a short drive south of Los Angeles, in Newport Beach, Pelican Hill is a world-class resort destination. When arriving on the property you will feel as if you traveled across the world to the Mediterranean. The 504-acre resort, which opened in 2008, is very elegantly laid out with a distinctly open, comfortable, yet classy feel. The centerpiece of the resort is the one-of-a-kind Coliseum pool. It is the largest circular pool in the world, which is surrounded with 18 of the most impressive poolside cabanas that you will find anywhere. There are 332 guest rooms, which include the amazing two-, three-, and even four-bedroom villas that all come with the finest amenities as well as ocean-view terraces.

With 36 spectacular holes designed by Tom Fazio, a luxurious clubhouse, excellent practice facility with PGA teaching professionals, a signature restaurant, and a dramatic layout with a breathtaking seaside backdrop, Pelican Hill Golf Club is one of the nation’s premier golf clubs.  Fazio used the 400 picturesque acres of natural terrain on the coastal environment to design the esteemed Ocean South and Ocean North golf courses. The Ocean North Course features panoramic views from every hole, while the Ocean South Course takes you closest to the sea, with three holes directly on the coast. With ocean views from every hole on the course, you will sometimes find it hard to concentrate on your golf game, but at just less than 7,000 yards with many holes coming right up to the cliff’s edges, you must bring your “A” game if you want to post a respectable score. The South Course is not as much of a test of your golf game, at under 6,600 yards from the tips, but the beauty of the course as it winds right down to the ocean’s edge might distract you from the task at hand. Take a moment to enjoy the beautiful coastline view before playing the par 3, 13th hole. Although it is a short 131-yard hole, the green is well protected with deep green-side bunkers and generally experiences a strong ocean breeze, creating a tough little short hole. Complete with a world-class spa, two award-winning 18-hole championship golf courses, phenomenal dining options, a fitness center, and private beach access, there are many great reasons why Pelican Hill has received the “#1 Resort in The United States” ranking by the readers of leading luxury travel magazine Condé Nast Traveler.

Bacara Resort & Spa and Sandpiper Golf & Country Club

Located about an hour and a half north of Los Angeles, Sandpiper Golf & Country Club and Bacara Resort & Spa offer a first-class beach resort as well as a championship golf course set on the shores of the Pacific Ocean. Located just north of beautiful Santa Barbara in Goleta, Sandpiper Golf Course, designed by William F. Bell, opened for play in 1972. The scenery of the ocean and mountains is only the backdrop to the fabulous 18-hole golf course that stretches out over 7,100 yards from the championship tees. The links style layout offers rolling fairways, large putting greens that roll very fast, and perfectly manicured grounds that make for a great golf experience. The signature par 3, 11th hole is 228 yards with a severely elevated tee box. You must choose your club wisely here because if you over-club and your golf ball carries over the large putting surface, you will end up on the sand, as the beach literally borders the 11th green and the 12th tee box. Sandpiper has found its way onto Golf Digest’s lists of TOP 25 Public Golf Courses in California, as well as Top 100 Public Golf Courses in the Nation, most recently in 2015/2016. With the perfect combination of beauty and challenge, it is no wonder that Sandpiper has played host to past PGA and LPGA Tours.

Located directly north of Sandpiper Golf Course, Bacara Resort & Spa is one of California’s most elite luxury resorts. The resort features 358 newly renovated rooms and suites offering endless vistas of ocean beauty. The 78-acre oceanfront property includes two miles of pristine natural beach, a 42,000-square-foot spa and fitness center, oceanfront dining, tennis courts, and even a wine tasting room.