Poppy Hills Golf Course in Pebble Beach had a special visitor last week.
Architect Robert Trent Jones, Jr., who originally designed Poppy Hills when it opened in 1986, was there to review progress on a current refinement project.
The project primarily involves changing the greens on the second par 3 and seventh par 4 holes and installing a new practice green. Some modest improvements to the tee area are also being implemented.
The course is owned and operated by the Northern California Golf Association, whose headquarters are in Poppy Hills.
Jones, 82, has designed or remodeled more than 270 golf courses during his career, including the Links at Spanish Bay.
“We don’t want to make the holes easier, we want to make them better,” said Jones, who also oversaw the 2014 Poppy Hills renovation. “The greens are the heart of the golf course. It’s like open heart surgery. You have to do it carefully. You don’t want to kill the patient. ”
The green of the second par 3 hole, as Jones described it, has always been an “archenemy” due to its location. The green is on the other side of a ravine that the players have to carry on their tee shot.
“The original idea for # 2 was to have two separate greens,” said Jones. “During the renovation in 2014 it was a green again, but it still feels like two greens – a kind of bowl on the right and a plateau on the left behind the green bunker, which requires a very strong shot over the bunker and not turning the ball around . Because if you turn it around, you’re on the third tee. ”
According to Jones, the new green at # 2 will be softened.
“We’re going to make it transitional so it feels like it’s not broken by the contours,” said Jones. “So you still have a chance if you’re on the wrong side. If you are now on the wrong side, you can putt straight from the green. ”
At number 7, the big green (6,000 square feet), the back flagstick position, is currently difficult to access for the average player. Jones said Green will also see contours being reduced to make the transition easier.
“We want you to be able to move from part to part without shaking when you’re on the green,” said Jones.
Jones said that at # 12, the second bunker on the left side of the fairway can be modified to provide a more spacious landing area on that side of the fairway. The new practice green will also be less contoured, resulting in more holes and allowing more players to use the green for events such as NCGA championships.
Overall, Jones said the course remained “perfect” in his eyes.
“I am very satisfied with the course. I think it’s one of our great works, ”he said.
When it opened in 1986, Poppy Hills was the first golf course to be owned and operated by an allied golf association. From 1991 to 2009 the course was one of the three venues for the annual AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. It previously hosted the PGA Tour Champions PURE Insurance Championship Impacting The First Tee and, in 2018, the US Girls’ Junior Championship.
The Poppy Hills refinement project is expected to be completed by the end of January 2022. During the project, the course will remain open and playable in a modified 18-hole shape. However, provisional greens are used for holes # 2 and # 7, with hole # 3 being played shorter during the bunker improvement work.