The venerable Poppy Hills Golf Course in Pebble Beach, Calif., will re-open for public play on April 4 after 13 months of renovation work overseen by its architect - Robert Trent Jones II. The all-new “Poppy’’ will co-host the Champions Tour’s Nature Valley First Tee Open, teaming with its famous neighbor, Pebble Beach Golf Links, from Sept. 22-28.
Poppy Hills co-hosted the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am from 1991-2009, as well as the Callaway Pebble Beach Invitational for four years.
Jones returned to rejuvenate Poppy Hills (www.poppyhillsgolf.com), restoring each hole to its natural elevation along the forest floor, softening doglegs and contours, and redesigning all 18 greens with bentgrass.
Among the more significant changes:
• Revitalizing a seasonal creek that cuts in front of the new ninth green
• Building the new 11th hole, the shortest par 3 at Poppy Hills
• Creating the downhill 12th hole, which tees off toward a spectacular ocean view of Monterey Bay
The catalyst for the renovation, according to jones, was to find a way to improve drainage while conserving water. The introduction of native waste areas reduces irrigated turf by nearly 25 acres, while a 20 percent more efficient irrigation system was installed. The entire course was sand capped to enhance drainage and rough also was eliminated, further promoting firm-and-fast play, as well as more imaginative shot making.
“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 has dropped from 72 to 71, but yardage has increased from 6,863 to 7,002 from the new Jones Trail (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 setup, with five sets of tees instead of four.