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Champions Tour Coming to Poppy Hills in September

Champions Tour Coming to Poppy Hills in September

March 20, 2014

Poppy Hills, Scott Seward, Bruce Charlton, Robert Trent Jones II, RTJ IIThe Champions Tour added to the Opening Day buzz at the reinvented Poppy Hills Golf Course by revealing that the Robert Trent Jones II redesign will co-host The Nature Valley First Tee Open along with Pebble Beach Golf Links, from Sept. 22-28. The agreement is through at least 2016.

Even before the ceremonial first shot was taken, Poppy Hills has already been deemed championship quality with the confirmation of The First Tee Open partnership. Poppy Hills is no stranger to pro tour competition, as 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.”

Poppy Hills debuts its new layout today with a Grand Opening for invited guests and media after closing for 13 months for a comprehensive renovation. The project began March 11, 2013, and officially opens to the public for play on April 4, 2014.

The Champions Tour was confident Poppy Hills would be a worthy tournament course back in September, when most of the course was still in dirt form.

“There are three things that come to mind about adding Poppy Hills,” said Champions Tour spokesman Dan Walker. “The relationship between the First Tee and Youth on Course is a nice tie. It’s great to have both courses for the event in the forest now. But the main thing is we came out to Poppy Hills during the First Tee Open while construction was going on to see the course. We were super excited about what we saw that week, and now to come here and see it finished is spectacular.”

Here is a look at the 10th hole in dirt from last September:

IMG_2358Jones 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.

Read our one-post summary of the renovation for all the details.

To reserve tee times for the April 4 opening and beyond, visit

-Kevin Merfeld

Author: Kevin Merfeld

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