Poppy Hills Golf Course, the home course of the Northern California Golf Association (NCGA), which has been closed since March 11, 2013 for a complete makeover, is set to re-open on April 4, 2014, and the NCGA is now accepting tee time reservations for rounds on the totally revamped layout.
The year-long rebuilding process refreshes and updates the original Robert Trent Jones II design, which has served as the NCGA’s home course since 1986. The first golf course in the country to be owned and operated by a regional golf association, Poppy Hills was one of the three host courses of the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am from 1991 through 2009, taking over the duty from Cypress Point Golf Club. The redesigned Shore Course at Monterey Peninsula Country Club took over the third spot in the AT&T rota in 2010.
The renovation of the NCGA’s flagship layout will result in reduced water usage, lower power requirements and a smaller carbon footprint for the entire golf course. The changes to the course have been extensive – irrigated acreage has been reduced by nearly 25% from the original design, and the entire course has been sandcapped to improve drainage.
In addition to replacing the irrigation scheme with a modern system to reduce water usage and distribute water more efficiently, the redesign by the Robert Trent Jones II design firm of Palo Alto, CA, also aims to improve other aspects of the playing experience. During its years in the AT&T rota, the original Poppy Hills layout was criticized by pros for the sometimes soggy conditions, but the new layout will play firm and fast.
Overall, holes have been reshaped to restore natural elevations along the forest floor, and soften doglegs and contours. All eighteen greens have been rebuilt with bentgrass, and re-contoured for better compatibility with the faster modern putting surfaces. Tee-to-green the changes to the course have eliminated rough and introduced native waste areas – a change that is responsible for the majority of the nearly 25% reduction in irrigated area.
Par on the course has been reduced from 72 to 71, with a rating of 73.5 and a slope of 135 from the back tees. There are five sets of tees, with total yardages ranging from 5,215 to 7,002 yards.
The reduction in par comes despite an overall increase in length of 139 yards from the back tees. The change in par is thanks in part to the firm, fast layout, and also to the change in the 12th hole – from a 531-yard, sharp dogleg-left par-5 to a straightaway downhill 431-yard par-4.
A grand reopening celebration will take place at Poppy Hills on March 20 (which is, coincidentally, the first day of spring) when members of the golf media from around the region and the country will be introduced to the new layout for the first time. The first play on the course will take place that day, and one lucky member of the public will hit the first tee ball on the revamped layout, thanks to an online contest the NCGA has been running.
Over the last weeks, the NCGA’s Twitter and Facebook followers have been invited to re-tweet or “like” the organization’s posts with pictures of each of the new holes on the redesigned course, and one lucky follower from among all those participating will be chosen to strike that first tee shot.
Reservations for tee times on the new layout are being accepted as far as 30 days in advance through the Poppy Hills website, http://www.poppyhillsgolf.com, or by calling (831) 622-8239. Groups of 12 or more can be booked up to one year in advance by completing the online tournament request form.
The green fee is $210 per player, with a significant discount for NCGA members. Golf carts are $25 per player.
The renovation also includes a remodeled golf shop, restaurant and practice facility.