Poppy Hills reopens after 13-month renovation

Poppy Hills Golf Course
Photo by Joann Dost
Poppy Hills is open again after a signficant makeover by course architect Robert Trent Jones II, who created the layout back in 1986.
By John Holmes

Series: Golf Buzz

Published: Thursday, March 20, 2014 | 7:30 p.m.
Poppy Hills Golf Course – well known as one of the popular and prestigious courses in northern California's Pebble Beach area – held its grand reopening ceremony Thursday after a top-to-bottom redesign that took just more than a year. The course will reopen for public play on April 4.
The renovation was overseen by course architect Robert Trent Jones II, who created the layout back in 1986. For the renovation, his quest was to restore each hole to its natural elevation along the floor of the Del Monte Forest, soften the doglegs and contours and remake all 18 greens with bent grass.
In addition, he built a new 11th hole, which is now the shortest par 3 at Poppy Hills; created a new version of the 12th hole, which now tees off toward a spectacular ocean view and rolls downhill; and revitalized a seasonal creek that cuts in front of the new ninth green. 
The catalyst for the renovation was to find a way to improve drainage while conserving water. Jones' introduction of native waste areas reduces the amount of irrigated turf by nearly 25 acres, and he installed an irrigation system that is 20 percent more efficient. The entire course was sand-capped to enhance drainage as well, and a significant amount of rough was eliminated to make the course firmer and play faster.
"It's a renaissance more than a renovation," Jones said. "It's really a brand-new golf course. The new conceptions have reinvigorated the golf course. They will bring the course back to all its glory."
Par at Poppy Hills has dropped from 72 to 71, but the yardage has increased from 6,863 to 7,002 from the new Jones Trail (the back set of tees). The Jones Trail plays to a rating of 73.5 and a slope of 135, but now there is more flexibility in course set-up, with five sets of tees instead of four.
As the redesign was being formally unveiled, course officials also announced that the Champions Tour's Nature Valley First Tee Open will be played at Poppy Hills and Pebble Beach in September. Poppy co-hosted the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am from 1991-2009, as well as the Callaway Pebble Beach Invitational for four years; it is owned by the Northern California Golf Association, which has its headquarters on site.