|Photo Courtesy of the NCGA|
“The fundamental tipping point for this renovation was water conservation,” said Robert Trent Jones Jr., the original architect in 1986. “The NCGA is a leader for all golf courses because it oversees, protects and enhances the Northern California Golf Community. If you’re going to rip up the course to put in irrigation and install this new way of thinking, it was time to rethink the entire course. This was a remarkable opportunity to rejuvenate this world-class venue.”
The result is a new philosophy at Poppy Hills, one that embraces play both on the ground and through the air, and one that rewards the imaginative and strategic shot-maker. This is further encouraged with just one cut of grass throughout the course – a fairway height that runs from the tee boxes to the green. The links-style short fairway turf is used as both a defense, and a new and unique opportunity to score.
These playing conditions were achieved by creating the previously unthinkable – firm and fast conditions year-round in Pebble Beach. The irrigation was replaced and optimized with a state-of-the-art computer system that can control water application to localized spots throughout the golf course. The course was then capped with a five-inch layer of sand, fostering firm, fast and fun conditions year-round. All 18 greens were reimagined and rebuilt with bentgrass, and vary in size from 4,700 to 9,000 square feet.
Poppy Hills cleverly reduced the amount of irrigated turf from 80 acres to 60, primarily with the introduction of natural sandy areas – extensions of the forest floor made up of pine straw and native grasses that wrap throughout the golf course, adding both strategic and aesthetic value. Poppy Hills also returned to its natural elevation along the forest floor, and reduced or eliminated severe doglegs. The golf course will play to a par 71, as the former dogleg-right 12th hole (previously a par 5) now plays as a spectacular straightaway par 4 with a striking view of the Monterey Bay and Santa Cruz Mountains.
“The new Poppy Hills is far superior in its playability,” said Derrell Biddy, president of Poppy Holding, Inc., the group that oversees Poppy Hills. “I don’t know how to explain how much more fun it is going to be.”
For more information, visit www.ncga.org.