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POPPY HILLS BY KEVIN MERFELD


RENOVATION UPDATE F


The Epiphany on the 11th Hole


ive years ago, Bruce Charlton and the Robert Trent Jones II golf course design fi rm were basking in the sun on the 11th tee box at Poppy Hills. They were scouting the challenging 210-yard par 3 and its formidable triple-decked


green. During their preliminary audit of the course, Charlton and the design team were spit-balling ideas about how to vary and improve the fi ve par 3s at Poppy Hills. “All of a sudden, we looked to our left through


the trees and saw this glorious view of the 12th hole,” said Charlton, the president and chief design offi cer for RTJ II. “And we said, ‘Wow. That’s impressive.’” Their eyes zeroed in on a


panoramic view of the Monterey Bay. It was a vista that had gone unnoticed since Poppy Hills was built in 1986.


The spot of their epiphany be- came the epicenter and inspiration


for the current Poppy Hills renovation. “Sharp doglegs had always been kind of a knock


against Poppy,” Charlton said. “So we were looking at ways to solve that criticism, and to fi nd ways to make golf holes better.” Launching drives toward the Pacifi c Ocean, in- stead of slicing them around a blind corner, certainly seemed like one way to do that. The previous 12th hole, a confi ning, sharp


dogleg-right par 5, never turned out as Robert Trent Jones Jr. had hoped. While originally designed as a much gentler dogleg, those plans had to be altered when it was discovered Gowen Cypress—an endan- gered species—lined the inside of the hole. Now Charlton and company had their solution for


No. 12. They just had to fi gure out how to get there. And this was how No. 11—the only hole built from scratch in the renovation—was born.


30 / NCGA.ORG / SUMMER 2013


The view from the new 12th tee.


12 NO. The 11th hole lived in various forms on paper.


Charlton talked about chopping up the current 10th hole—a 553-yard par 5—to make room for a driv- able par 4 and a short par 3 over the pond, which would lead up to the doorstep of the new 12th tee box. Another plan showed the 10th hole with no pond at all. But Charlton worried about losing one of the most spectacular shots on the course—the approach into No. 10. After golfers climbed the hill with their drive, the daring were met with wrapping a downhill shot around a lone towering pine tree while carrying an intimidating pond. “We were concerned about the ooooh-and-ahhhh


effect of people at the top of the hill on No. 10 hitting a shot over water into the green,” Charlton said. “We didn’t want to lose that shot. We thought


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