Poppy Hills Golf Course  in Pebble Beach, Calif., has begun an extensive makeover under the direction of the Robert Trent Jones II architectural firm. Jones designed the course – perhaps best known as part of the rotation for the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am from 1991-2009 – almost 30 years ago.
Jones is working closely with the Northern California Golf Association, which owns the course, to bring it up to modern standards, improve its playability and help it conserve water.
"The renovation will also help the golf course blend more naturally into the site rather than appearing to sit on top of the land," said RTJ II Chief Design Officer Bruce Charlton. As an example, he notes that new areas of pine straw combined with sand will bring to mind the visual appeal of such courses such as Pinehurst No. and Pine Valley.
The yearlong makeover will reduce the area of irrigated turf by 14.5 acres while simultaneously lengthening the course from 6,857 to more than 7,000 yards – a modern standard for championships, which the NCGA hopes to attract. The course also will go from its current par-72 configuration to a par 71.
As part of the refurbishment, all the teeboxes will be rebuilt and the bunkers completely repositioned and renovated to make the sand more uniformly playable. The fairways will be widened and the angles of many of its doglegs softened, and the green complexes will be remade with softer putting surface contours to accommodate faster green speeds. The hollows and slopes around the greens also will be reconstructed to serve as either a defense or an aid to players.
In addition, the entire course will be sandcapped to play firmer and faster and to improve drainage. Naturalized sandy areas that tie into the surrounding Monterey Pine forest will be added, and the cart paths will be realigned to be less obtrusive.
Finally, the yardages on many holes will be altered to lend more flexibility for daily play, to provide a wider range of club selection and to enhance tournament set-up. A natural creek buried during original construction will be restored and will serve as a hazard on the ninth hole, and a forest management program will be developed to allow more sunlight to improve turf health.
The course is scheduled to reopen in the spring of 2014.