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THE POWER OF POPPY


Consider the original notion of a regional golf association owning and operating its own golf course for the benefit of its members and add in golf ’s greatest zip code—93953—and you have the makings of a classic.


Now nearly 25 years


old, the realization of that idea—Poppy Hills in Pebble Beach—continues to achieve its goal of pro- viding a world-class golf experience at a value price for NCGA members. The layout also has presented a tough tournament-tested track as host of countless NCGA championships, the 1991 NCAA National Championship and the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am from 1991-2009. But as the course ma-


tures it also continues to evolve, with refinements made to improve playability


all in keeping with course architect Robert Trent Jones Jr.’s original intent stated in 1979 well before he started his design work: I have an obligation to the


members of the NCGA and the game of golf to design a unique course that will stand the test of time. I envision an NCGA course which will have the same characteristics as several of the holes in the forest at Cypress Point and on the #2 course at Pinehurst. The NCGA course will defi- nitely be championship caliber, perhaps shorter than Spyglass, with an emphasis on strategi- cally placed shots rather than strictly on distance. Around


the greens, emphasis will be on chipping, much like Pine- hurst #2. New mowing patterns


that broaden the short grass around the green complexes debuted in the last year augmenting Jones’ vision. Improved conditioning also has the Poa annua greens rolling as true as ever. The renewed emphasis on the short game and lessened impact of rough on the green surrounds has en- hanced the course’s already high fun quotient while also speeding up play. A new second hole, taking the old double green and combin- ing into a single large com- plex guarded by a sprawling bunker was introduced in 2009 with higher standards of enjoyment and pace of play in mind. The course furthered


its tournament pedigree in


BY SCOTT SEWARD


NCGA MEMBERS EXPERIENCE UNBEATABLE VALUE AT POPPY HILLS AND POPPY RIDGE


2006 when the fifth hole finished as the toughest par 4 on the PGA Tour with a scoring average higher than any of the par 4s at U.S. Open host Winged Foot. A 428-yard par 4 as the toughest on Tour? The greatest players in the world should have followed the advice of the NCGA-mem- ber tenants—you don’t fire at the back-right hole loca- tion, you go for the middle of the green, take your two putts and move on. “We listen to our


customers, and we react to what they say,” says Poppy Hills Head Professional Justin Williams. “And what we kept hearing is that they love the experience of playing golf here, but they’d like it to be a little easier and take a little less time. The change around the greens and the importance


32 / NCGA.ORG / SUMMER 2010


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