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Clicgear 3.5+

It’s rare that a company is completely truthful in its naming conventions, but Clicgear proves to be the exception to the rule with its introduction of the new Clicgear 3.5+. The Clicgear 3.5+ features only minor improvements to the earlier 3.0 that definitely wouldn’t justify jumping to a version 4.0. So kudos to Clicgear for being straight with the consumer (okay, maybe the “+” is a little bit of puffery).

The Clicgear 3.5+ still retains the rugged good looks, solid build and rock-steady performance of the prior version. New to the 3.5+ is an upgraded brake mechanism (an enhancement of the one that was introduced in the 3.0), a bigger storage net, and a new cup holder, umbrella holder bracket, and strap system. The 3.5+ also comes with a welcome reduction in MSRP, going down from $229 to $220. Oh, and for the fashion-conscious, the 3.5+ comes in eight new colors.

SCORE
94
GRADE
A
Size/Weight
84
Ease of Set-Up
86
On Course Impressions
92
Storage/Accessories
94
Style
94
Value
91

We continue to have our reservations over the complexities of unfolding the Clicgear cart, which isn’t the most intuitive of processes, and the fact that when it’s folded up, it becomes an awkward-shaped cube. And if you already have a Clicgear cart, the improvements on the 3.5+ are only incremental in nature, and probably not enough to warrant an upgrade.

But make no mistake, the Clicgear 3.5+ is still an excellent product, and the new features (and reduction in price) only make it easier for us to recommend it as one of the top golf push carts on the market.

We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the wide range of accessories that are available for Clicgear carts. Our favorites include the shoe brush (perfect for scraping off grass and other gunk that clumps on your spikes) and the Clicgear MITT (great for keeping your hands warm and dry while pushing the cart), but there’s a whole host of additional add-ons, including a Clicgear SEAT, cooler bag, and upgraded umbrella holder with adjustable angle.

Retail price: $220
Amazon.com: Check price now
Golfsmith: Check price now

Pros:

  • Sleek aggressive styling
  • Sturdy and stable on the course
  • Wide range of available accessories

Cons:

  • Complex unfolding/folding process
  • A little heavier than most and bulky when it’s folded up

84 / B

SIZE/WEIGHT

At 19.5 lbs. (as tested), the weight of the Clicgear 3.5+ creeps up another 0.5 lbs over the prior version, and the cart continues to sit in the heavier end of the spectrum among the push carts we tested. While the listed dimensions indicate that an inch of height has been shaved off (we have a sneaking suspicion that this change may just be a marketing decision to truncate the decimal point instead of rounding up), the cart still folds into a bit of an unwieldy block. Those of us with smaller cars wind up putting it into the back seat, as it would otherwise require some rearranging and engineering skill to stow a set of clubs with the Clicgear in the trunk. Two sets of clubs and two Clicgears is beyond our feeble packing capabilities.


86 / B

EASE OF SET-UP

Unfolding the Clicgear 3.5+ is not the most intuitive process, which may explain why the company makes instructional unfolding and folding videos available on their web site. Clicgear tries to make the 5-step process easier by highlighting the critical knobs and levers in bright colors, but despite the fact that we’ve used these carts many times, we still do a little bit of head-scratching each time we come back to them. It truthfully isn’t rocket science, but there is a sequence that must be followed, and if you try to do something out of order, you tend to hit a dead end and have to start all over again.

Clicgear has revamped the straps that hold the bag in place on the cart – the new design enables easier adjustments to the length of the straps.


92 / A-

ON COURSE IMPRESSIONS

Clicgear 3.5+ Golf Push Cart

Click image to enlarge
  • We continued to like tooling around with the Clicgear cart on the course – it is sturdy and stable, and the tires are able to handle a variety of terrains.
  • The Clicgear 3.5+ retains the previous brake lever, which is positioned for easy access directly under the push handle. It’s as simple as rolling to wherever you want to stop and pulling the lever in one easy motion as you naturally move your hand back off of the push handle.
  • Like the prior 3.0 model, the braking system on the Cligear 3.5+ inserts a block into the nearest of six gear notches around the front wheel to stop the wheel from rolling. Clicgear states that the brake on the 3.5+ is improved over the one utilized on the 3.0 with an “improved brake engagement profile to reduce cable damage and stretch” and a “newly designed brake lever with pivot anchor to reduce cable wear and locking force required to engage.” We’re not exactly sure what all of that technical mumbo jumbo means, and we didn’t feel any differences on the course (not that we would’ve expected to), but we hope that the end result is that the brake on the new 3.5+ won’t fail the way that the one on our 3.0 did (which seemed to be a general problem for that version).
  • The tires are made of solid foam, so there is no danger of winding up with a flat.
  • The handle can be adjusted within about a 45 degree range, providing flexibility for users of different heights.

94 / A

STORAGE/ACCESSORIES

The storage and accessories available on the Clicgear 3.5+ include:

  • a valuables tray with a magnetic lid, which is nice and roomy. The tray easily handled our traditional “stuff capacity test” of 2 golf balls, a GPS device, an iPhone, a set of keys, and a wallet. Note that the storage box has a bracket that is designed to hold 3 golf balls (there are no other doohickeys on the Clicgear 3.5+ to hold golf balls)
  • a fantastic storage net (80% larger than the one on the 3.0) that is great for holding head covers in between shots, providing easy access to snacks, or generally stowing miscellaneous junk that you bring to the course
  • an elastic band attached to the lid of the valuables tray that is designed to hold down a scorecard – we actually found this to be quite handy for securing an iPhone that was running a golf GPS application
  • another elastic band attached to the lid of the valuables tray that is designed to hold a pencil – which we found to be a bit clunky because the elastic was a bit tight for easy access to or stowing of the pencil
  • 3 holes for storing tees
  • an umbrella mount that holds an umbrella upright to provide you with shelter when it’s raining. We note that Clicgear states that it has improved the bracket that holds the umbrella mount when it’s not in use – presumably some folks were losing their umbrella mounts with the previous design.
  • 2 straps to hold a folded umbrella when it’s not in use (similar to those found on most golf carry bags today)
  • a cup/bottle holder that can be clipped on to any one of three different “accessory tabs” (1 on the left side of the cart and 2 on the right). We liked the flexibility of where to position the cup/bottle holder, but note that it would occasionally pop off as we were folding up the cart. Clicgear states that the cup/bottle holder is newly designed to accommodate both larger and smaller vessels – it seemed to work fine with the hefty water bottle we used.
  • Clicgear’s accessory tabs make it easy to add a number of accessories to the cart, including a cooler tube, sand bottle, and rangefinder/valuables bag.

Clicgear also sells a wide range of other accessories that are compatible with the 3.5+ and their earlier generation carts, including a shoe brush, seat, GPS holder, iPhone holder, cooler bag, cigar minder, and mitts for chilly weather.


94 / A

STYLE

While other manufacturers have made a concerted effort to add some pizzazz to their cart designs, the Clicgear 3.5+ is still the coolest looking push cart on the market. We love the low profile, aggressive stance and flashy color combinations (well, maybe only some of the color combinations). The Clicgear 3.5+ is available in charcoal/yellow, charcoal/orange, charcoal/black, white/lime green, white/pink, white/white, and gray/black. New to the 3.5+ is consistency in the accent color of the wheels, knobs, handles, and bag straps in the flashier color combinations.

The charcoal/orange model we tested would be a big hit with fans of the Giants and the Beavers…and anyone else who also has a big ugly Scotty Cameron Detour head cover.


91 / A-

VALUE

Even with its reduced retail price of $220.00 (down $9 from the prior version), the Clicgear 3.5+ is still one of the most expensive golf push carts among the units we tested. But with a nice feature set, solid fit and finish, and dependable performance on the course, the Clicgear 3.5+ provides first-rate value.


Club Glove Stiff Arm

We worry about our precious clubs as much as anyone (all the more so after seeing Lee Janzen’s clubs destroyed at the hands of Delta Airlines), so we’re always seeking any extra comfort that they will be protected during travel and arrive safe and sound. With that in mind, we decided to take the Club Glove Stiff Arm for a spin.

The Stiff Arm is designed to minimize vertical impact damage to your clubs (i.e. the type that would occur if you dropped the bag clubhead-first into the ground from some height), as opposed to protecting it from a horizontal blow (such as a truck driving over it). So place your bets on how you think the airlines will take it to your clubs. Interestingly, the Stiff Arm is sold without a warranty, offered “AS-IS” (does that give you flashbacks to the purchase of your house?), with the company noting that the Stiff Arm is “disposable”. Given that any damage to the Stiff Arm will weaken its protective properties, you should check the Stiff Arm after each use. Any damage? Out it goes…

Club Glove Stiff Arm

Click to enlarge

The Club Glove Stiff Arm arrives in two pieces – a 3-piece telescoping arm and a curved plastic disc approximately 5.5″ in diameter that easily screws onto the top of the arm. The lightweight aluminum arm extends up to 54″ in length, so it can be used for any length clubs, and is adjustable through spring-loaded adjustment pins on the arm itself (much like an adjustable crutch), down to 1 ¼” increments (see image at right). Fully collapsed the arm is only 28″ in length. The total weight of the arm and plastic head is 1.3 pounds as tested, so it adds just a bit toward the maximum 50 pound limit before the airlines start tacking on additional baggage fees.

It was easy to extend and adjust the 3-pieces of the arm to the appropriate length. All pieces moved smoothly, and the rounded pins that are used to adjust the length are simple to use (see image below). There is also a small ridge in each of the arms to indicate where the pins are, so you don’t spin and spin the arms trying in vain to find the adjustment pin. We haven’t had any issues with depressing the pins, or the pins extending through the adjustment holes when we adjust the length of the arms. At the base of the arm is a soft rubber foot cap, 1 3/8″ in diameter, likely designed so the arm won’t have a sharp base to cut through a travel bag when there is a hard impact.

Club Glove Stiff Arm

Click to enlarge

Using the Stiff Arm is as easy as first adjusting the length so it is ½ “- 1 ½” longer than your longest club (so the impact is absorbed by the Stiff Arm), and then sliding it into your golf bag. When you’re done using the Stiff Arm, just slip it back out of the bag, then depress the adjustable pins and collapse the arms – it’s a cinch to store in a hotel closet or in a folded golf travel bag. The plastic protective disc on the arm can also be easily unscrewed should you need to do so.

The Club Glove Stiff Arm worked fine in our testing, and our clubs arrived unharmed, but whether that was due to the device itself, or just special tender loving care from the baggage crew, we don’t know. As you may know, United break guitars, so there’s the distinct possibility that your golf clubs may also be at risk. While the Club Glove Stiff Arm doesn’t provide a warranty for either the Stiff Arm or your clubs, if the Stiff Arm protects your clubs even once from abuse by the airlines, you’ve more than covered the relatively low cost ($27). We wouldn’t go so far as to say that it “eliminates nearly all risk of club breakage” as Club Glove states, but it does enable you to travel with a bit more peace of mind.

If this level of protection isn’t enough for you, another option is a hard travel case, such as the Samsonite Hardside or SKB Deluxe (which will cover club damage up to $1,500!). Keep in mind that in most cases, airlines are not liable for damage to golf equipment that is not contained in a hard-sided case (read more about airline rules for traveling with golf clubs). Given that the Club Glove Stiff Arm is only designed to absorb vertical blows, a hard case may be your best bet if you’re looking for maximum protection and are willing to make trade offs with respect to weight and portability.

Retail price: $26.95
Amazon.com: Check price now
Golfsmith: Check price now


La Costa Resort & Spa

We had seen enough advertisements and articles on the recent renovation of the La Costa Resort and Spa that we decided to grab our clubs and travel bag and hit the road. The $50 million infusion included not just updating the hotel, but a $10 million renovation of their entire Champions Course (fka as the North Course) and four holes on the South Course (host to the Kia Classic LPGA Tournament, and host to the WGC Match Play Championship from 1999-2006).

Spanning 400 acres within a Carlsbad, California neighborhood, the resort is located 30 minutes north of San Diego and 90 minutes south of Los Angeles. The resort was founded in 1965 and was the first U.S. resort to offer a full-service spa (did someone say “Signature Massage”?). Featuring a central “plaza” that is surrounded by the hotel, guest rooms, market, stores, and play rooms for kids, the feel is more of a California outdoor mall than a resort. And maybe that is by design, as La Costa offers much more than just golf – the variety of activities for the entire family is one of the strongest draws – there are two restaurants, a tennis center (where they have hosted professional tennis tournaments), a fitness club, the aforementioned spa and, for all your ayurvedic needs, the Chopra Center for Wellbeing. If this all isn’t enough for you or your family, hey, Legoland is just a few minutes away.

While La Costa seemingly has all that one could want in terms of activities, we weren’t sold on the level of service. Issues with the upkeep of the room and common areas and generally low attentiveness by the staff were significant disappointments. Our diagnosis is that either the resort is lighter on staff levels than it should be, or the staff isn’t managed to provide the level of service expected from a top-notch resort. The all-in cost for a night, which starts in the mid-$300s, is lower than other resorts we have visited, but certainly nothing to sneeze at. A $50 million renovation can do a lot for a resort, but without some tweaks, it’s going to be tough for them to keep up. La Costa is certainly a good resort, just not a great one.

SCORE
86
GRADE
B
Service
84
Accommodations
85
Fitness Center
90
Spa
92
Pro Shop
95
Food
89
Integration with Golf Course
90
Value
84

Expedia: View La Costa Resort and Spa offers

Pros:

  • Variety of activities
  • Convenient location
  • Family friendly (ostensibly this could equally be listed in the “cons” category)

Cons:

  • Rooms need more attention to upkeep
  • Unkempt common areas and low service levels

84/ B

SERVICE

The service and upkeep at the La Costa Spa and Resort is best described as “okay”, as it was far from the level at other high-end golf resorts we have visited.

La Costa Resort & Spa

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  • Checking In. We pulled into the roundabout/entrance at the plaza and were warmly greeted. The attendant pointed us in the direction of the hotel entrance and didn’t make any offer to help with luggage or golf clubs (presumably because he assumed that we would be driving to our rooms). Unbeknownst to us the pro shop was just below where we pulled up, and had we known, we probably would have proactively left our clubs there to be taken down to the pro shop.

    At the front desk we waited just a minute before we were greeted. The front desk assistant was warm and efficient, providing us with a map and outlined locations for our room, and answering questions about the locations of the restaurants, hours for the pool and gym, and so forth.

  • Housekeeping. The room itself was reasonably well kept, though we found notes left over from the previous guest, and candy wrappers that we left on the desk remained there between days (we won’t divulge whether that was a cleverly designed test or if we are just slobs). We had a few complaints about the room that, while they weren’t technically housekeeping’s responsibility to fix, could have been pointed out to management (see below under ‘Accommodations’). There is one housekeeping service per day.
  • Concierge/Guest Services. We made arrangements for our room and golf tee times by phone, but took La Costa up on the offer in their welcome e-mail to assist with booking dinner reservations and spa treatments, along with a later modification to tee times. The concierge team sent an email detailing our planned activities, though curiously, our reservation at their BlueFire Grill wasn’t on the list. This may have been because the reservations are made via Opentable (we received a separate email with the Opentable reservation). A note to all: if you want some extra Opentable points, you might as well book BlueFire yourself. The BlueFire reservation did appear on a later updated activities summary, with the summary presented as a screenshot of an aging Windows application attached to the email.

    We didn’t have any additional needs, but there were “experience planners” desks in the lobby area which were available to help.

  • Checking out. We went to the front desk for check-out, and had the pleasure of waiting in the check-out line for 15 minutes. Count ’em. 15. There were three women working at the front counter, two assisting guests and a third working on a computer at the front desk who repeatedly turned down guests who approached her with questions, deferring them to the other desk clerks who would be “with you in a moment”. While she was warm, it was painful to see someone working on the computer (not on the phone) in front of a long line of guests and unwilling to step in to help with the overload. This is something driven by the culture of management, and while it may sound minor, highlights the difference between La Costa and top golf resorts.

    Eventually we were assisted by a woman who was polite but a bit frazzled, and seemed puzzled when we asked where we could take a shower before heading home. Huh? Are we the only people who go to golf resorts and have the audacity to play a round on the day we are checking out? Apparently there is no shower within the fitness center, so in the end we were directed down to the tennis center locker room. We were left on our own to track down a towel (you need to ask whomever is working in the adjacent tennis pro shop), and after stuffing our belongings in a locker (with no lock provided), we showered in a locker room that was more appropriate for a typical weight room than a high-end resort. It wasn’t the best final impression to make on a guest, but that’s what we’ll take with us.


85 / B

ACCOMMODATIONS

There are 611 guestrooms at La Costa, 30% of which are privately owned villas that can be rented at the owner’s option. At only 60% of capacity, the resort seemed relatively quiet on our off-season visit, which makes us wonder what the service is like when the resort is actually full.

La Costa Resort & Spa

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Guest rooms range from 425-600 square feet, and our Signature Room provided us with 500 square feet. Our room was technically a “Premium” Signature Room, which is a ground floor room with French doors that open to a patio. We should say French doors that kind of open to a patio (see images), as the doors were only able to be opened about 45 degrees before hitting the bed. Once we squeezed between the bed and wall and opened the doors enough to slip out, we were treated to a rather sad looking shared patio with chipped stucco and cracking concrete that featured a small table and just one chair (seriously?). Signature Rooms have fairway, courtyard or garden views, and other views vary by room type.

Other features include:

  • Flat screen TV
  • Refrigerated minibar with drinks and snacks available for purchase
  • Desk with two chairs
  • Timex (that’s old school!) alarm clock
  • Wireless internet is included within the daily “Resort Charge”, with a faster speed available for an additional charge (the “free” wireless was just fine for us)
  • The marble bathroom featured Spa at La Costa branded bath amenities, a single sink with a stool, a deep soaking tub, a separate shower, a separate room with a toilet, and a hanging closet (never really advisable in a bathroom…damp clothes are a bad idea) with a safe.

Most of the room was in very good condition and comfortable, simple but well done, but with some little issues such as burnt-out ceiling lights in the bathroom and a peeling shower door seal. The wear to the patio and building outside the room seemed somewhat unusual given the recent renovations, so we are guessing that while interiors were updated, the exterior was left as is.

You can fairly easily hear people in neighboring rooms when you are in the bathroom. This is less of a problem in the main area of the room, but you definitely are not staying in the cone of silence.


90 / A-

FITNESS CENTER AND POOLS

La Costa Resort & Spa

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Curiously, guests enter the fitness center off of the main hotel lounge, taking an elevator to the fitness center. When the elevator opens you enter into a long hallway, which somewhat gives the impression that you are in the basement of the hotel. Surprisingly, there is no locker room in the fitness center, just a set of small lockers off of the elevator entrance that are used by men and women. Both the entrance and lack of locker rooms struck as bizarre for such a large fitness center, all the more so since we assume that guests who aren’t able to get a late checkout (that would be us) would need a place for a post-round shower before heading off to the airport.

The fitness center staff warmly greeted us in the hallway, and we found the facilities well kept and stocked with just about everything you would want in a gym – free weights, elliptical machines, recumbent bicycles, stair machines, and so forth. The fitness center is an impressive 8,825 square feet, with 270-degree views overlooking the Edge pool and golf courses. In addition to a variety of weight equipment there is a large exercise room (which we found absolutely packed with women in a aerobic class during our visit), spinning room, and pilates room. There are a large number of fitness classes available each week, both indoors as well as out, available for additional fees ranging from $10-$15, and a selection of fitness camps are offered as well.

The associated swimming pools aren’t simple lap-pools, but instead cater toward R&R and family use. There are two pools in the family area, one of which has an attached sand mini-beach for the kids, and another for lounging. There is also a water slide and water sculptures. Two words: family friendly. If you’re looking for something quieter, the Edge Adult Pool is located just outside the body of the hotel that overlooks the South Course. Edge includes multiple hot tubs (a fantastic way to end the day and soothe the aching back), private cabanas that can be rented for the day, heat lamps and fire pits, and a poolside bar. Food is provided through the Diversions Lounge (see below for details).

La Costa Resort & Spa

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Our first tour of the pools was just before 5 PM, and though it wasn’t surprising to find the pools areas largely empty, given the time of year of our visit, we were taken aback by the number of dirty dishes, trays, and used towels scattered about on lounge chairs, tables and the ground. Even the signage to rent a luxury pool-side cabana (for a mere $150, plus a food and beverage minimum of $250) was in bad shape. We later returned to the pool area after dinner for a late soak in the hot tub and found the pool area in the same condition. Equally disappointing was that we couldn’t find any towels in the pool area to dry off after hot tubbing. We weren’t alone, as another guest approached to ask us if we knew where to get towels. He was more resourceful than we were, disappearing for a bit before returning with a stack of towels that he had located on his own in the basement underneath the poolside bar.

If tennis is an area of interest, La Costa offers an amazing 17 tennis courts (13 hardcourt and 4 clay), seven of which are lighted, along with a,small tennis pro shop and locker room. The courts rent for $25-$35/hour, and lessons, daily drills and programs are available. And if your game packs in the fans, there is stadium seating for 1,000 people.


92 / A-

SPA

In addition to hosting professional sporting events, La Costa is known to many for its Spanish-colonial style spa, set just off the main plaza a short stroll from the main hotel. The spa features a whopping 43 rooms for individual treatments plus two more for couples, adding up to over 28,000 square feet of indoors space. The 15,000 square-foot outdoor courtyard includes a pool, hot tub, dual waterfall showers, and a café open for lunch into the afternoon. You can even unblock your qi on the Reflexology Path, described by skeptical non-reflexologists as “rocks cemented in the ground that you walk on barefoot.” The outdoor area was in slightly better maintained condition than the larger pools, but there were still towels and cups scattered about, further reinforcing the impression that staffing at the resort is too thin.

La Costa Resort & Spa

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The men’s spa was well-kept and among the amenities were a good-sized locker room, hot tub, cold plunge, steam room, sauna, and small outdoor and indoor waiting areas. Curiously, one waiting area featured Glamour and RedBook for your leisure reading. And yes, this area is exclusively for men. That is some awesome attention to detail. Here’s wondering if the women’s locker room had Car & Driver and the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition. There is also a welcoming coed waiting area with couches, chairs and fireplaces.

We signed up for a Deep Tissue Massage (which, at $165, is only $5 more than their Signature Massage), but didn’t receive the level of pressure we would have expected – maybe we accidentally signed up for the Surface Tissue Massage). The serenity of the 50 minute massage was unfortunately broken several times as HVAC vents kicked on and off, and we could hear snippets of conversation in the next room and the rolling of carts passing by outside. On the plus side, our therapist, who had been at La Costa for well over a decade, had a pleasant and calming presence, and overall it was a fine massage. The cucumbers placed over our eyes (when in Rome…) made it clear we were on vacation.

The use of spa facilities is available to guests who are having a treatment that day or can be purchased for a rather excessive $60/day if you aren’t having a spa treatment.

Adjacent to the spa is La Costa’s salon. If we were still rockin’ our 80s mullet we would have reviewed their services, but with hair now just a wistful memory, we’ll have to leave that for others.


95 / A

PRO SHOP

The Pro Shop is located on the ground floor of the hotel, and is one of the largest we have seen at a resort. The shop has separate men’s and women’s clothing sections, with areas that feature a number of name brands, including Adidas, Ashworth, Callaway, Greg Norman (with a larger area than he needs), Travis Mathews, Puma (yes, in orange), Zero Restriction and even Ralph Lauren. For the ladies there is a selection of workout clothes in addition to golf attire.

There is a small putting green in the center of the store to test out the reasonable selection of putters. Clubs from Nike, Callaway TaylorMade, Cobra and Odyssey are represented. There are also sections of the store dedicated to wind and rain gear, gloves, hats, belts, bags, towels, shoes and golf balls. And if you are beat or simply need to wait while you wife tries on her fourth golf shirt in an attempt to find the cutest one, you can take a break in the small sitting area and enjoy some TV. Unfortunately, the bar is upstairs. Overall, this is one of the most diverse and well-stocked Pro Shops we have seen. If you’ve forgotten something or simply want some goods, they have a great selection.


89 / B+

FOOD

There are two main restaurants at La Costa Resort & Spa, along with a lounge bar and restaurant, a poolside bar, two cafes and a “to go” market. The food, service and ambiance varies significantly between restaurants,

La Costa Resort & Spa

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  • Legends Bistro. Legends Bistro is located just downstairs from the main lobby of the hotel, and is the only restaurant outdoors with a view to the golf course. Breakfast (technically a $30 credit) was part of our package, though that still wasn’t enough to cover the all-in cost for an omelet and orange juice.

    The service was better in the morning than in the evening, but the meal itself was better at dinner. We were foiled in our attempt to try the beet and goat cheese salad as they had run out of arugula (no, seriously…), but the organic baby greens salad, roast chicken and glass of wine (totaling $66) was better than expected.

  • BlueFire Grill. The BlueFire Grill is located just off the main plaza just past the main entrance to the hotel. It features a patio within the main plaza for dining in addition to indoors. Service was stronger here than in Legends Bistro, and we enjoyed our meal of a mixed field greens salad and of Skuna Bay Salmon (raised in Vancouver, FYI), which had a nice crisp skin and was paired with a fennel gratin and vegetables ($49).
  • Diversions Sport Lounge . For something a bit more casual, the Diversions Sport Lounge is a great place to hang out following a round of golf. Seating is available at tables, lounge chairs or couches, and televisions cover the walls both within the main lounge and above the bar. The bar extends into the outdoor terrace above the Edge pool. There are a handful of options of appetizers, soups and salads, and sandwiches. We sampled the Turkey Cheeseburger flatbread ($14) on the recommendation of our waitress, and weren’t disappointed. We liked the atmosphere here and the selection of items was above average for a hotel lounge. The only downside was the lounge was so crowded that our waitress had clearly reached her limits in terms of being able to keep up with requests. Unfortunately, staffing issues seem to extend even to the bar.

We did not try the Cafes, which are located within the Spa and next to the family-friendly Splash pools, and feature soups, salads, and sandwiches. If you’re looking for something to grab and go, there is also the Marketplace, which offers coffee, chocolates, ice cream and other treats, as well as La Costa logo gear and other items.


90 / A-

INTEGRATION WITH GOLF COURSE

  • Golf Club Storage: As mentioned before, we missed out on our initial chance to store our clubs with the pro shop upon our arrival at the hotel. We did leave our clubs overnight to be stored after our first round. They weren’t waiting for us after we had checked-in for our scheduled round the next day, so we had to ask for them to be pulled from storage area and brought out to our cart.
  • Getting to the Course: Some golf resorts have courses a short shuttle away, but at La Costa the course was close enough that we could not only see the Championship course from our room, but also walked alongside it on the way to breakfast each morning. The Championship and South Course are next to each other, so no matter which one you are playing, you’ll start virtually next to the hotel or just a short walk away.
  • Practice Facilities: A practice green is located right outside the back of the hotel (practically adjacent to the pool) and overlooking the starting holes of both courses. The driving range is a short walk away, and on the weekend of our stay allowed hitting off of the grass – bonus!. There is also a short-game area, with a green and surrounding bunkers.

As a side note, there are golf memberships at La Costa, so you may feel a bit like a second-class citizen as you check-in and wait behind the members checking in with their buddies (and the quoting of rates well under $100). Ahh, so it goes. Courses can be closed for members only, so if you have a strong desire to play a particular course, plan accordingly.

La Costa also features the only west coast location for the PGA TOUR Academy offering golf schools, private lessons, and specialty clinics.


84 / B

VALUE

We booked a golf package for $499 per night that included a Signature Room (which featured fairway views), a $30 breakfast credit, unlimited golf, unlimited use of the practice facility, club storage, and a 15% discount on items purchased at the pro shop. If you go the route of such an unlimited golf package, the ultimate cost of the room itself will depend on how many rounds of golf you play. Greens fees on the weekend we were there ran more than $200 for the Champions course and $185 on the South course. But assuming only one round a day, the ballpark rate we were paying for the room itself was about $285/night.

If you’re booking a la carte, rates for the majority of guest rooms start at under $300 for plaza-view rooms and run up to a bit under $400/night for the more spacious La Costa rooms, depending on the day of the week and season. The “Daily Resort Charge” adds approximately $30 to your tab, and doesn’t include parking, which will run $25/day if you valet, or $12/day if you want to self-park. The lot for self-parking lot is semi-paved, unsecured, and located at the edge of the resort a short walk away from most rooms. If you forget to mention you drove to the resort when you check in and park the car yourself, you may not find a parking charge on your bill. So we’ve heard. So all-in for a night will run approximately $300-$450 per night. Suites and villas start all-in around $450 for plaza views, and break $1,000 for the largest villas.

Though less expensive than other high-end resorts we have visited, the La Costa Resort and Spa is by no means cheap. It is both a family-friendly resort and one you can go for a weekend golf or spa getaway with friends, and one of the strongest benefits is the wide range of activities both at the resort and nearby (hey, there are golf performance and fitting centers in the immediate area to visit between rounds too). But at this level we expected more, and found the value only fair.

Selected images (the professional-looking ones) courtesy La Costa Resort and Spa.


Airline Rules for Traveling With Golf Clubs

Wondering what the airlines rules and regulations are around traveling with golf clubs? We’ve pulled together a listing of airlines comments regarding golf clubs as of February 2013.

The below is intended as a summary for convenience. Always make sure to check with the airline’s website for full detail of current restrictions on traveling with golf equipment. And make sure you select a nice golf travel bag in the event that your clubs are treated with the same love shown by the American Tourister Gorilla.

Ed. note: we appreciate the vote of confidence from jetBlue that we will lose a maximum of 3 golf balls on our vacation. Thanks!

Alaska Airlines
Alaska Airlines Policies – Sporting Equipment
Alaska Airlines will accept the following sporting equipment items as checked baggage provided each piece is properly packed in a soft or hard sided case designed specifically for the sporting equipment piece.

Oversize Sporting Equipment Exceptions
Each checked piece of sporting equipment listed below may exceed our size allowance (not to exceed 115″) without incurring an oversize fee. Standard checked baggage service charge and overweight fee (51-100 pounds) apply for each piece checked. Refer to our Checked Baggage page for checked piece and overweight charges.
– Golf

American Airlines
American Airlines Baggage Allowance – Sports Equipment
Maximum Size and Weight
– Items that are larger than 126 inches and 100 lbs. will not be accepted as checked baggage. Contact a freight forwarder for assistance with these items.
– Additional items not included in the item description below must not be packed inside the sports case and are subject to overweight and/or oversize charges.
– All inches are dimensional inches (length + width + height)
Liability
– AA/American Eagle/AmericanConnection® carriers are not liable for any damage to sports items not presented in a hard-sided case. If the outside of the hard-sided case does not have visible damage, AA/American Eagle/AmericanConnection are not liable for any damage to the sports item inside the case.
– Sports cases designed for specific items such as golf bags, boot bags and bike cases are intended to carry only that sports item.

Golf Clubs
Allowance/Requirements
One golf bag containing no more than 14 golf clubs, 12 golf balls and one pair of golf shoes
Cost
Charged the 1st or 2nd bag rate as applicable. When in excess, each item will be subject to the baggage charge for a single piece.
Maximum Weight and Size
Maximum free weight on golf clubs is 70 lbs. Size is limited to the size of a hard-sided golf case.
Additional Information
Swingless Golf Club load strips are considered dangerous goods and are not allowed in checked or carry-on baggage.

Delta
Delta Special Items
Golfing Equipment
One golf bag is allowed as checked baggage. Checked baggage fees may apply based on travel region and total number of checked bags. Overweight baggage fees apply to bags that exceed 50 lbs. Oversized baggage fees will be waived for golf bags that exceed 62 linear inches, but bags exceeding 115 linear inches are not allowed.

One item of golfing equipment is defined as:
– one golf bag containing one set of golf clubs
– golf balls and tees; and
– one pair of golf shoes.
Golf clubs are allowed under the following conditions:
– golf bag is packaged within a hard-shell case
– golf bag is packaged within a soft-sided golf club travel bag after a limited release has been signed
Delta is not responsible for damage noted at the time of check-in or damage due to over-packing the bag

Hawaiian Airlines
Hawaiian Airlines Sports Equipment – Miscellaneous
The following are special items or types of items that will be accepted as baggage by specified carriers subject to the conditions shown. Charges prescribed in this rule are applicable from the point at which the item is accepted to the point to which the item is transported.
Special items which may or may not be identified below but which may be packed in a standard suitcase and checked in as baggage will be exempt from the charges identified below. Special items or types of items will be limited to a weight of 50lbs, unless otherwise stated.
Sports equipment items listed below will be accepted by Hawaiian Air subject to the conditions of acceptance and/or prescribed charges.

Golfing Equipment
Items of golfing equipment will be accepted as checked baggage subject to the charges specified below. (For the purpose of this provision one item of golfing equipment is defined as one golf bag containing not more than 14 golf clubs, 12 golf balls, and one pair of golf shoes.) HA will not be liable for any golfing equipment that is not in a hard shell case. A liability release form must be signed by the passenger at the time they check-in the golfing equipment.

Charges
Golfing equipment will be included in determining the free baggage allowance, and when in excess each item will be subject to the excess baggage charge for a single piece, whether or not presented as a single piece. Oversized baggage charges will be waived for golfing equipment that exceed 62 linear inches provided that all items in the golf bag/container are described as golfing equipment in the above paragraph. If non-golf items are included in the golf bag/container then normal oversized charges will apply to golfing equipment in excess of 62 linear inches. Items exceeding 115 linear inches will not be accepted as checked baggage.
Note: Hawaiian Airlines will refuse to accept swing less golf clubs to either be carried on or checked in as baggage.

jetBlue Airlines
jetBlue Airlines Baggage information – Sporting equipment
Sports equipment
All checked bags must not exceed 62″ (157.48 cm) in overall dimensions (length + width + height) and cannot exceed 50 pounds (22.73 kg).
Please note: boxes will not be accepted as checked baggage on international flights.
Bags larger than 80 inches will not be accepted.
Golf equipment is accepted on all flights. There is no additional charge or oversized fee for golf bags as long as they are within weight limitations. A golf bag will count as one of your checked bags.
One golf bag containing not more than:
– 14 golf clubs
– 3 golf balls
– one pair of golf shoes
Please note: all equipment should be packed in a hard-sided container. JetBlue will accept Golf Bags in a soft-sided travel bag, but will not be liable for damage to the bag or contents.

Southwest Airlines
Southwest Airlines Special Luggage – Sports Equipment
Sports Equipment
Any of the items listed below may be checked in substitution of one piece of the free Checked Baggage allowance for each Passenger at no charge on a one-item-for-one-bag basis. If the item of sporting equipment exceeds 50 pounds in weight or 62 inches in size (outside length plus height plus width), excess weight and size charges may apply.

Golf
Golf bag in hard-sided golf bag carrying case provided by Passenger, including clubs, balls, and shoes. Hooded golf bags or golf bags in a soft-sided carrying case provided by the Passenger will be conditionally accepted.
Note: Overweight charges will apply to golf bags exceeding 50 pounds.

Sun Country Airlines
Sun Country Baggage
Sporting Equipment
One (1) item of the following sporting equipment may be substituted for one (1) of your checked baggage. For the items listed below, multiple items count as one (1) item of luggage and are subject to baggage fees. Items in excess of the stated allowances will be subject to additional fee.

Golfing Equipment
One (1) item of golfing equipment consists of: one (1) golf bag and one (1) pair of golf shoes.

United Airlines
United Baggage Information – Sports Equipment
Golf equipment
United accepts one item of golf equipment per customer as checked baggage.
An item of golf equipment consists of:
– One golf bag containing 1 set of golf clubs
– Golf balls
– One pair of golf shoes

All items must be properly encased in a suitable container. The golf bag must be covered or enclosed in a heavy, rigid carrying case.
United is not liable for damage to Golf Equipment that is not contained in a hard-sided case.
Excess Valuation may not be purchased for Golf Equipment that is not contained in a hard-sided case.
If applicable, the first or second checked baggage service charge applies to golf equipment.
Golfing equipment containers measuring over 62″ (158 cm) L+H+W that contain other items in addition to or in place of appropriate golf equipment will be subject to an oversize checked baggage service charge.
Note: All customers, including MileagePlus® Premier® members, who check a golf bag will experience a delay in receiving their bag at the baggage claim due to the manner in which oversized items and sports equipment are required to be loaded, unloaded and delivered to baggage claim.

US Airways
US Airways Baggage – Special items
Golf equipment
Golf equipment will be accepted in the normal baggage allowance in lieu of a piece of baggage – one per person. A pull cart may be included if it is attached to a golf bag. Golf equipment should be enclosed with a cover to prevent loss of contents. Hard sided carriers are recommended. If the golf bag contains anything other than golf equipment and is intended to be used as baggage, then the oversize baggage fee applies.

One item of golf equipment consists of:
– 1 golf bag, containing no more than 14 golf clubs
– 12 golf balls
– 1 pair of golf shoes

Baggage liability
When US Airways has exercised the ordinary standard of care, it shall not be liable for damage to or damage caused by fragile articles, liquids, or perishables, nor for the loss of, damage to, or delay in:
…Equipment…
[though “Equipment” is not defined]

Virgin America
Virgin America Contract of Carriage – Sporting Equipment
Golfing equipment
One bag of golfing equipment includes: one golf bag containing no more than 14
clubs, 12 golf balls, and one pair of golf shoes. All must be properly encased, as
Virgin America will not assume responsibility if the packaging is improper.

Exclusion from Liability
Virgin America will not assume liability or responsibility for…[R]ecreational/sports items not presented in a hard-sided case.

Into the nitty-gritty?
US Department of Transportation, Section 254.4 states that an air carrier “shall not limit its liability for provable direct or consequential damages [emphasis added]” relating to lost, damaged or delayed baggage to less than $3,300 per passenger. You can see the consent order concerning violations by Delta Air Lines.

Please note the above is intended as a summary for convenience. Always make sure to check with the airline’s website for full detail of current restrictions on traveling with golf equipment.