New-look Poppy Hills will be faster, firmer and more fun, says Jones


New-look Poppy Hills will be faster, firmer and more fun, says Jones
Sean Dudley
By Adam Lawrence

Construction work is almost complete at the total renovation of the Poppy Hills course in California. Grass is growing on all eighteen holes at Poppy Hills, which has been closed for the renovation project since March. The course will reopen next April.

Original designer Robert Trent Jones II and his team, along with construction firm Frontier Golf, has rebuilt Poppy Hills, with the aim of creating a course that plays firmer and faster, and gives golfers more fun, as well as fitting more seamlessly into the landscape of the Del Monte Forest.

“The fundamental tipping point for this renovation was water conservation,” said Jones. “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.”

Jones reckons the result is a new-look Poppy Hills, that embraces play both on the ground and through the air. The revised course will have only one height of cut throughout, running from the tee boxes to the green.

To create a course in the Monterey area that could play firm and fast year round was a challenge. The new irrigation system is designed to control water application to localised spots throughout the golf course. The course was then capped with a five-inch layer of sand,. All 18 greens were reimagined and rebuilt with bentgrass, and vary in size from 4,700-9,000 sq ft.

The renovated Poppy Hills will have less irrigated turf – from 80 acres down to 60 – because of 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. The course is now closer to natural elevation along the forest floor.

“The new Poppy Hills is far superior in its playability,” said Derrell Biddy, president of Poppy Holding. “I don’t know how to explain how much more fun it is going to be.”