Tag Archives: Gary Adams

Southland: La Costa Celebrates 50 Years

Valley Promenade cropped

Editor’s note: This is an expanded version of my piece in the June issue of Southland Golf.

Tiger Woods won here. Gary Adams tested some of the first TaylorMade clubs here – and the metalwood made its PGA Tour debut here. Richard Nixon and Jackie Kennedy stayed here.

Yes, Omni La Costa Resort and Spa has packed a lot into its first 50 years. As it celebrates its milestone anniversary this year, the challenge now is to balance a prestigious past with a progressive future.

The first steps toward that future were actually taken 10 years ago when La Costa embarked on a $50 million renovation that included a new spa, two new restaurants and layout tweaks to its two championship golf courses.

The renovation was completed two years ago when the Legends (South) Course re-opened. New Director of Golf Pat Miller arrived shortly after and discovered a resort with a balance of new sparkle and classic charm.

“A lot of times new owners want to change things, but I give a lot of credit to past owners that so much has stayed the same,” he says. “La Costa has largely stood the test of time. There’s a nice balance now been what has worked in the past and what’s new.”

On the golf side, what’s most recently new is an experience now weighted more toward player/game development and improvement. Among other things, a Cobra Golf Tour truck – nicknamed The Snake Pit – is on the range to provide custom fittings, and La Costa has established The Golf Performance Institute (GPI), a comprehensive training center meant to enhance the golf lifestyle.

“It’s now more of an overall experience here than just a place where you show up and tee off,” Miller says.

And the experience after you tee off has significantly evolved with the re-designs of both 18s and continues to, Miller says. He says the Legends Course is still settling into its new greens but is starting to discover its peak shape.

“There’s been a little of a learning curve from a maintenance stand point,” he says. “The greens started out very hard on the Legends, but we’re working to soften them. That side isn’t as its peak yet, but it’s still very good.”

Legends Course [15]

The Legends plays as the tougher of the two sides, especially when an ocean wind is whipping, making the home stretch, the famed “Longest Mile in Golf,” even longer.

“We do get the ocean breeze, and it can make as much as two-clubs difference,” Miller says. “I played it like that the other day and it’ll make you work to get it to the green in regulation.”

LaCosta_Champions Course Hole 11 Wide cropped

The Champions side tends to be a little more welcoming to first-timers and higher handicaps, Miller says, largely because of its wider fairways.

“It’s easier to hit the fairways, but the greens are more protected with bunkers. You’ve got to make a lot of carries,” he says. “Both courses are challenging in their own right.”

In its heyday, professionals from Snead and Nicklaus to Mickelson and Woods competed at La Costa, most notably in the PGA’s annual match play. That relationship ended in 2006.

Miller says La Costa is seeking to re-raise its competitive profile. The course held the SCGA’s state amateur last year and will hold the Gifford Collegiate, a top-tier men’s event hosted by UCLA, this fall.

The course also hosted an industry cup for staffers at Southern California’s major equipment companies.

“We’re always looking for ways to showcase the facility,” Miller says.

And for ways to correct a common misconception about La Costa: That it’s members only.

The course is actually a resort course that rotates member and guest play between the two courses on alternating days.

“We want outside guests, hotel guests and people traveling for business to see what La Costa has to offer,” he says.

What they’ll find, Miller says, are a couple of still classically great golf courses, a whole host of new amenities and an all-encompassing golf experience.

In its 50th anniversary year, Miller still finds the nostalgia factor for La Costa to be a strong one and would like to do more to capitalize on that.

“I love the history of the game and hearing about the great stories of the past and seeing the old photos,” he says. “This is where a lot of golf history happened, and I want to do more with that. That’s part of what makes golf here meaningful and memorable.”

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La Costa By The Numbers:

1963 –
The year two future owners and developers discovered the property while riding equestrian

1965 – The year La Costa opened as a golf, tennis and resort facility

1969 –
The inaugural year of PGA match play at La Costa

2006 –
The final year of PGA match play at La Costa

$50 million – Cost of La Costa’s extensive recent renovation

$1.5 million – The cost to build the original golf course in 1964

La_Costa Champions 18 at 8x6 200dpi

SD Tourism: Touring TaylorMade and the Other Golf Equipment Companies in Carlsbad

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Editor’s note: This post is part of an occasional series for the San Diego Tourism Authority. I’ll post the link after it goes live at www.sandiego.org.

As the home of the headquarters of TaylorMade Golf, Callaway and Cobra, Carlsbad is akin to the Silicon Valley of the golf equipment industry.

The game-changing birth of the metal wood occurred in Carlsbad and those companies been leading the technology boom that has revolutionized the game ever since.

Carlsbad presents a rare opportunity to visit all three of these influential brands at once. They are all headquartered within a few miles of each other.

TaylorMade, however, is the only one still offering regularly scheduled public tours. They take place every Thurs. at 10 a.m. Cobra books private tours by appointment, while Callaway only books club fittings.

The following is a look at highlights and tips for taking the TaylorMade Tour, followed by information for booking appointments at Callaway and Cobra.

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Touring TaylorMade

As most any golfer knows, TaylorMade is the world’s leading equipment manufacturer. Their campus encompasses two buildings – only one of which you see on the tour – and the driving range, the hallowed Kingdom, a domain for the pros and other elite players.

The TaylorMade tour offers some insight into the company’s latest club technology – the new R15 driver is under glass in the lobby with the club head dissected– as well a peek at the manufacturing process and an overview of golf’s technology revolution.

A rotating team of TaylorMade volunteers hosts the roughly 45-minute tour so your experience may differ depending on their experience. For instance, our host was an engineer named Matt, so we got a more technology-based tour.

Regardless of the host, be prepared to provide your ID and sign an electronic confidentiality agreement while you’re waiting. Note: No photos or phones on the tour.

While you’re waiting for the tour to begin, you can peruse the latest TaylorMade equipment, which is on display in the lobby along with the staff bags as such TaylorMade Tour players as Justin Rose, Jason Day and Sergio Garcia.

The tour begins with a bit of history about not only TaylorMade but its parent company, Adidas, a high-performance sports apparel manufacturer. For golf, the most pertinent history is the story of Gary Adams bringing TaylorMade to Carlsbad to pursue his dream of launching a medal wood to supplant the wooden clubs of the past.

That history is displayed under glass in the next story of the tour – the Wall of History. There, 12 clubs are exhibited that capture the evolution of the metal era. There’s everything from TaylorMade’s first driver, the head of which is about the size of a modern-day rescue club, to the latest, the state-of-the-art R15.

In between, you witness club head sizes growing, metal materials changing and then club adjustability coming into the picture. Even for those who know their club history, there’s likely something to learn and appreciate here.

The next stop is the manufacturing floor, where 10,000 clubs are assembled each day. You see everything in production from putters to drivers and learn what a golf assembly line looks like. The manufacturing floor shares space with the massive warehouse where thousands of equipment orders are being processed and shipped daily.

The tour concludes with a look at one of the most exclusive parts of TaylorMade – The Kingdom. Golfers are usually only granted access here with permission of a club pro and to be professionally fitted.

Otherwise, this is where TaylorMade’s professionals come to get their equipment updated in a state-of-the-art environment and to practice on the driving range.

The Kingdom has a country-club feel all its own, complete with a posh lounge just inside the entrance. Worth perusing: the guestbook at the front desk. Inside, you’ll find photographs and signatures from touring pros and celebrities who’ve visited The Kingdom. It’s a veritable Who’s Who.

Who was Adidas’ first sponsored athlete (hint: think track)? Where does TaylorMade gets its name from? Why did Gary Adams chose to relocate his company to San Diego? What does the R stand for on TaylorMade’s drivers?

If some of those questions pique your interest, the TaylorMade tour has answers for you.
If your visit coincides with one of the professional tour events in San Diego, you might end up keeping company with a tour pro. To register for a tour at TaylorMade, call 760.918.6000. Tours are given on Thursdays.

cobra

Photo courtesy of Pinterest

Touring Cobra

Cobra Puma, the company represented by the stylish Rickie Fowler, has designated times of the month when tours are available, but they are by appointment only.

Cobra has more modest facilities than TaylorMade, but there are still things to be seen, including the hitting bay and swing simulator the pros use at Cobra. There’s also a warehouse and merchandise area where the colorful array of the Cobra Puma product line is displayed.

The tour can take 30 minutes to an hour depending on what guests want to see. Working in a club fitting can add another hour or two.

To schedule a tour, a fitting, or both, call 760.710.3502.

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Getting Fitted At Callaway

Callaway Golf no longer offers public tours, but the headquarters does accommodate club fittings.

To learn more scheduling a fitting, go to www.callawaygolf.com/golf-clubs/custom-fitting/ and look under the custom fitting tab.