Robert Trent Jones Jr. & the NEW Poppy Hills on the Monterey Peninsula!

With Robert Trent Jones, Jr. at the NCGA headquarters at Poppy Hills Golf Course.

With Robert Trent Jones, Jr. at the NCGA headquarters at Poppy Hills Golf Course.

Poppy Hills is back, better than ever and open to public golf starting on Friday, April 4th. I can't wait to play the new Poppy Hills Golf Course. While at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am back in February I was able to get a non-playing sneak preview at a reception hosted by the Northern California Golf Association (NCGA). I looked forward to the chance to interview the golf course architect of Poppy Hills, Robert Trent Jones Jr. I had met the young Jones at a Gatsby-like party at the 2011 Masters and recall his gift of the Golf by Design book and an intriguing article entitled "Yale Story" that is about opening the Moscow Country Club in September 1994. Think about the golf history witnessed and made in the Jones family! CLICK here for the VIDEO INTERVIEW with Robert Trent Jones, Jr. at Poppy Hills Golf Course.
Aerial view of the 10th hole at Poppy Hills. Photograph courtesy of Joann Dost/NCGA.

Aerial view of the 10th hole at Poppy Hills. Photograph courtesy of Joann Dost/NCGA.

As Mr. Jones states in the interview, "Pebble Beach is the best golfing zip code in America," and now Poppy Hills is back as the "King of the Hill" of the nine golf courses located on the Monterey Peninsula. The son of the man, Robert Trent Jones Sr., who created the curriculum for a golf course architect at and graduated from Cornell University in 1930, reminisces about the era of golf course design in 1986 when Poppy Hills first opened. A bold, hard, and dramatic golf course with large greens was the rage back then and Jones, Jr. "popped the hills off of Poppy and enlarged the golf course into the forest" to bring the wayward child back into vogue in the 21st century. Though this redesign was has been given accolation already for its environmental consciousness as previously maintained green areas have been converted to sandy waste land saving water and fertilizer expense.
That's the Lone Cypress on the 17-Mile Drive on the Monterey Peninsula.

That's the Lone Cypress on the 17-Mile Drive on the Monterey Peninsula.

When you drive the 17-Mile Drive starting at the Pacific Grove gate you drive by some pretty impressive golf courses- Pacific Grove Golf Links, Spanish Bay Golf Links, Monterey Peninsula Dunes & Shore Courses, Spyglass Hill, Cypress Point Club, Pebble Beach Golf Links and the Peter Hay GC... the last one being Poppy Hills, the "King of the Hill" on the Monterey Peninsula! Oh yeah there is a pretty nice Cypress Tree out on a rock between Cypress Point and Pebble Beach, definitely worth the stop! Here are some pictures from the Poppy Hills reception during the Pebble Beach Pro-Am week, me sneaking back for a few pictures during the day and some awesome media pictures as well. Below the pictures is the press release from the Opening Day Celebration. I hope to see you out there playing the NEW Poppy Hills, "King of the Hill" on the Monterey Peninsula!

Added Excitement Surrounds Opening Day Celebration at Poppy Hills Reinvented Layout in Pebble Beach, CA To Co-Host Champions Tour Event Starting This Fall

PEBBLE BEACH, CA (March 20, 2014) … It has been 13 months since Poppy Hills Golf Course closed for a near top-to-bottom redesign overseen by the course’s original architect Robert Trent Jones II. But if the excitement of today’s Opening Day festivities weren’t enough, it seems that there is even more good news. Adding to the buzz is the announcement that the all-new Poppy will co-host the Champions Tour’s Nature Valley First Tee Open, teaming with its esteemed neighbor, Pebble Beach Golf Links, from Sept. 22-28. Poppy Hills officially debuted its new layout today after closing last March for a comprehensive renovation. The course reopens for public play on April 4, 2014. Jones was on-hand to hit the ceremonial first shot at the new Poppy Hills, 28 years after he did so to debut his original design in 1986. He was joined for the first shot by:
  • Brian Morse, President of the NCGA, the largest regional golf association in the country
  • Derrell Biddy, President of Poppy Holding Company, which oversees golf operations
  • Patrick Moran, an 11-handicap golfer representing the 150,000 members of the NCGA.
“Since Poppy Hills is the members’ course,” Morse said, “we wanted to honor our member in the special ceremony. It worked out perfectly to have Patrick with us on this special day to represent the entire NCGA membership.” Jones returned to rejuvenate Poppy Hills, restoring each hole to its natural elevation along the forest floor, softening doglegs and contours, and redesigning all 18 greens with bentgrass. Among the most significant changes were:
  • 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 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. And even before the ceremonial first shot was taken, Poppy Hills was already deemed “Tour-quality” with the confirmation of The First Tee Open partnership. Of course, Poppy Hills is no stranger to pro tour competition. It co-hosted the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am from 1991-2009, as well as the Callaway Pebble Beach Invitational for four years. “The First Tee Open is a wonderful partner for the home course of the Northern California Golf Association,” said Brad Shupe, General Manager of Poppy Hills Golf Course. “One of the prime initiatives of the NCGA Foundation is its Youth on Course program, which allows boys and girls to play courses for only $5. And we are proud that two of the last three pro-junior teams to win The First Tee Open were made up of Youth on Course players.” Four Youth on Course members were also represented in the opening day ceremony – Richard Garcia, Jack Hyland, Katie Hyland and Mariel Mercado, all from Salinas. Each was the “official caddie” for the four representatives who hit the official first shot. For additional information about Poppy Hills Golf Course and to reserve tee times, visit About the Northern California Golf Association The NCGA is one of the largest regional golf associations in the country, with more than 150,000 members throughout Northern California and into Nevada. The NCGA is the only golf association in the country to own two courses – Poppy Hills in Pebble Beach and Poppy Ridge in Livermore. Since 1901, it has been the NCGA’s mission to support and promote the game of golf in Northern California. The NCGA provides official handicap indexes, conducts more than 50 championships annually, rates courses throughout Northern California, publishes NCGA Golf magazine and operates a Foundation to support deserving youth. The NCGA Foundation’s Youth on Course program allows juniors to play more than 100 courses in Northern California for just $5. About Poppy Hills Poppy Hills was the first golf course to be owned and operated by a regional golf association in the country. Built in 1986 by Robert Trent Jones Jr., Poppy Hills hosted the PGA Tour’s AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am from 1991 through 2009, as well as the Callaway Invitational for four years.  Poppy Hills has also hosted the 1991 NCAA Men’s Division I Golf Championship, and has been the tournament home for NCGA championships. It is the headquarters of the NCGA. Press Release courtesy of Hunter PR.