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Robert Trent Jones II Begins Renovating Poppy Hills


In early April, the golf course architecture firm of Robert Trent Jones II (RTJ II) broke ground on extensive renovations to the Poppy Hills Golf Course in Pebble Beach, Calif. RTJ II is working closely with the Northern California Golf Association, which owns the course, to bring the popular layout up to modern standards, improve playability and conserve precious resources such as water. The course, which has hosted the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro Am as well as the 1991 Men's NCAA Division 1 Championship, was originally designed by RTJ II and opened in 1986.

According to Bruce Charlton, chief design officer of RTJ II, "The life cycle of the irrigation system component of a golf course is about 20-25 years. Poppy Hills opened in 1986. The NCGA was cleverly thinking ahead and realized that, while addressing the need to update course irrigation, it made sense to look at a more extensive series of updates to the entire golf course. We worked with the NCGA and the Toro Company to do a water audit of the property and figure out ways that we could save water, distribute water more efficiently, and also improve other aspects of the playing experience. Our renovation will also result in lower power requirements and a smaller carbon footprint for the entire golf course."

At Poppy Hills, RTJ II will perform the following work:

Sand cap the entire golf course to improve drainage and make the course play firmer and faster.
Reconstruct all teeing areas.
Completely renovate and reposition bunkers, employing state-of-the art technologies for subgrade protection and more uniform sand playability.
Design and construct all new green complexes with softer green surface contours for today's faster green speeds, and fairway hollows and slopes around the greens to serve as either a defense of or as an aid to players. Widen fairways and soften angles of doglegs.
Add naturalized sandy areas throughout the course that tie into the surrounding Monterey Pine forest.
Restore a natural creek buried during original construction and strategically utilize this feature as a hazard on Hole No. 9.
Update and realign cart paths to be less obtrusive to play.
Alter the yardages on many holes to lend more flexibility for daily play, to yield a wider range of club selection decisions and for tournament setup.
Develop an enhanced forest management program to improve playability and allow more sunlight to improve turf health.

"The renovation will also help the golf course blend more naturally into the site rather than appearing to sit on top of the land," Charlton says. As one example, he refers to new areas of pine straw combined with sand that will bring to mind the visual appeal of courses such as Pinehurst No. 2 and Pine Valley.

When complete, the renovation will cut water consumption by reducing the area of irrigated turf by 14.5 acres, adjusting to a par 71 while simultaneously lengthening the golf course from 6,857 to more than 7,000 yards-, which the NCGA hopes to attract. Poppy Hills will reopen for play in spring of 2014.

Said Jones, Jr., of the project: "Older golf courses are much like historic buildings, which often require various levels of attention, whether to restore original charm and design features or to adapt to a more modern world. We are thrilled to be returning to Poppy Hills to make the golf course even more efficient in its use of resources and more playable for its many golfing fans."

About Robert Trent Jones II

With headquarters in Palo Alto, Calif., Robert Trent Jones II Golf Course Architects (RTJ II) has created more than 270 courses in over 40 countries on six continents. RTJ II is committed to working in harmony with nature to craft the best golf course on each unique site. The RTJ II design team has experience in every aspect of golf course development and the ability to provide support and expertise from conception through completion of any project. For additional information contact the firm at 650/475-0329 or visit www.rtj2.com.