Design Notes

Omni La Costa North reopens after a Gil Hanse makeover

Nicklaus Design points to a 2025 debut for Jack’s Bay in The Bahamas; Martin Ebert rehabs the bunkers at England’s Gog Magog

Hole #15.jpg

Omni La Costa Resort & Spa announced in mid-April that following a comprehensive renovation of its Champions Course by Hanse Golf Course Design that the historic layout will revert to its original name, the North Course, and will open for resort guest and member play beginning June 1.

Originally designed by Dick Wilson and quickly becoming one of golf’s treasured destinations after debuting in 1965, Omni La Costa’s North Course previously served as a home to notable PGA Tour events. For thirty years, the resort hosted the Mercedes Championships (originally called the Tournament of Champions) from 1969-1998. In 1999, Omni La Costa hosted the inaugural WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship as well as six additional occasions. In 2010 and 2012, the resort hosted the Kia Classic, a popular LPGA Tour event.

The North Course will feature six sets of tees creating flexibility to play from 4,500 to 7,500 yards in order to accommodate players of all skill levels. Additional portions of the completed project are environmental in nature, like transitioning irrigation lines that will continue to use reclaimed water, man-made ponds removed and the reintroduction of natural barrancas composed of drought-tolerant and native species.

The Legends Course at Omni La Costa is also going back to its original name, the South Course. An ideal complement to the North Course, the parkland-style 18 features mature trees, gentle doglegs and places a premium on accuracy off the tee. Holes 10-18 on the South Course were used for the Mercedes Championships tournament routing over the decades. The impressive number of victories by the greats of the game at Omni La Costa includes Gary Player, Tom Watson, Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods.

Set to play 7,500 yards from the back tees, the par-72 North Course will add to Omni La Costa’s rich history by returning the property to prestigious tournament golf when hosting the NCAA Division 1 Women’s Golf Championships (May 17-22) and Men’s Golf Championship (May 24-29). The North Course is also scheduled to host the NCAA Golf Championships in 2025 and 2026 as well.

Hanse and his team implemented significant design changes with the NCAA’s match-play format in mind as well as fashioning a layout ideal for the best players in the game to test their skills at the highest level moving forward. Chief among the impressive new aspects is challenging players with more risk-reward decisions throughout their rounds. Specific changes include the creation of a drivable par-4 on No. 11, a repositioned green on the par-3 16th reminiscent of Augusta National’s iconic 12th hole, and a stout finisher with the par-5 18th now playing over 600 yards from the back tee into the prevailing wind with water lurking on both sides of the fairway.

“Working with the ‘best of the best’ course architects like Gil Hanse and his design team is a prime example of our continued commitment and investment to be in the highest echelons of U.S. golf destinations,” says Craig Martin, the resort’s managing director. “This transformation signals a full return to championship glory at Omni La Costa and joins the now-completed renovation of the property as a whole resulting in an elevated experience for our members and resort guests to enjoy for decades to come.”

“The North Course is now positioned to return to its stature as one of the top venues for championship golf in Southern California,” Hanse says. “We were able to combine a respect for the natural contours, landforms and vegetation with an emphasis on strategic design. This combination of beauty and interest should prove enjoyable for everyday play by members and resort guests, while asking compelling questions to be answered by the best players in the world during championship events.”

The golf course renovation work at Omni La Costa is joined by another project focused on reimagining the resort’s golf practice facility. Led by Beau Welling, and his firm, Beau Welling Design, the project focus is on elevating the practice experience with regrassing the lengthened driving range and expanded short game area. Toptracer technology is now available for the resort’s golf members as well as for instruction.

Similar to the North Course renovation, the practice range updates incorporate a new state-of-the-art irrigation system allowing the facility to maintain efficient usage of water for sustainability considerations while still exhibiting the highest maintenance standards.Oregon’s Bandon Dunes Golf Resort celebrated its 25th anniversary on May 2, the same day its newest course, Shorty’s, opened for play.

Jack’s Bay on the island of Eleuthera in The Bahamas is moving forward with the first ever Jack Nicklaus Heritage golf course, with Nicklaus Design as architect. The course, expected to open in 2025, will complement a 10-hole short course from Tiger Woods’ TGR Design that opened on the property in 2020.

"We’re embarking on something truly spectacular at Jack’s Bay,” said Doug Maslo, Jack’s Bay’s director of development and construction. "Together with the Nicklaus Design team, we look forward to both preserve and enhance the incredible natural beauty of the land. Several holes will hug the ocean, while the inland terrain offers remarkable features like rolling elevations, lakes and even ‘blue holes’ leading to the ocean."

The architect most closely associated with the project is Chad Goetz, senior design associate at Nicklaus Design.

"This may be the most spectacular piece of land that I have been blessed to work with in my career — this is the opportunity of a lifetime," Goetz said. "We want to create a course at Jack’s Bay that harmonizes with the environment and features strategic shotmaking opportunities. Most of all, we want to create a course that is fun for all types of players and immerses them in the natural splendor of this remarkable piece of land."


England’s Gog Magog Golf Club has concluded the latest phase of a bunker revamp by Mackenzie & Ebert’s Martin Ebert. Located 50 miles north of London in Cambridge, Gog Magog is home to two courses, the Old, designed by Willie Park Jr. in 1901 and the Wandlebury, crafted by Fred W. Hawtree in 1997. Ebert finished work on the Old in 2023. The Wandlebury bunker project is ongoing and is expected to be done by the spring of 2025.

“For the Old, we wanted to keep the traditional style of bunkering,” Gog Magog general manager Brad McLean told "Martin proposed some relocations, but predominantly rebuilt most bunkers in their original locations. The styling is more traditional, with flat bottoms and steeper faces built into the landscape.

“For Wandlebury, the brief was a bit different as we wanted to differentiate the two courses. We called for more defined revetted edges and much larger surface areas. The bunkering on many holes was more strategically imagined, and not only were landing areas considered but how the bunkering could add to the shape of the hole. The difference between the two styles is striking.”

The final phase of bunker work on Wandlebury will commence in October 2024.