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are a lot of rejective slopes, and we still have some, but we’re trying to reduce those, so we have rejective slopes and receptive slopes, and they can be eas- ily read by the player from the fairway or the tee,” Charlton said. “Hopefully, if you look away from the rejective slope, you’ll see something that you might be able to use.” Kind of like how Charlton looked away from the 11th green and found his new 12th hole.


How Sand Capping Will Make Poppy Hills a “Completely Different Experience”


W NO. 3


hen it rains in January on the Monterey Peninsula, drives down the middle of the fairway get negative roll, balls pick up hunks of mud and you have to hike up your pants while tiptoeing through the


soggy rough. That won’t be the case when Poppy Hills reopens. At the core of the renovation is improving drain-


age—specifically topping the entire golf course with a five- to six-inch layer of sand. Known as sand cap- ping, this process will create firm and fast conditions year-round, so much so that those January drives— and approach shots—will actually bound forward. “It’s going to be a completely different experi-


ence,” said Mike Gorman, project architect for Rob- ert Trent Jones II. “It’s definitely a cornerstone for the entire project. “With our shaping philosophy, we want to bring


our fairway up to the green, and we want to treat the fairway as a form of hazard and a form of defense. We utilize the sand cap to achieve those fairway and tight-lie conditions. “We’re really excited about that.” One of the main philosophies of the renovation has been to naturalize the layout and return many of the holes to their original elevation. This is not only an improvement from an aesthetic and strategic point of view, but also for drainage. “The previous shaping of the golf course was


actually containing a lot of the surface water and not allowing it to run off the course – because of all the containment mounding,” Gorman said. Poppy Hills will still have deer roaming the


course, fog that drifts in and out of the trees, and glimpses of the ocean. But the turf conditions will make it easy to forget you are playing golf on the Monterey Peninsula. “One of the main reasons we are taking on this


entire project is drainage,” Gorman said. “We are improving drainage, and making sure we are creating firm and fast conditions year-round. The sand capping, coupled with perforated piping under the sand that helps usher the water into the primary drainage structure for the golf course, will keep conditions dry. “The bottom line is we are trying to create very


firm and fast conditions with short grass,” said Bruce Charlton, president and chief design officer of RTJ II. “If we would have gone with the natural clay soils out here, we would have gotten very inconsistent playing conditions.” “When it is raining in January, or when it is


foggy in the summer, you’re still going to get a lot of firm and fast shot characteristics around the green,” Gorman said. “Before, you had the rough, which was soggy around the green. Now you’re going to get hollows and fairway that’s firm and fast around the green.” Poppy Hills can still be played through the air, but


golfers will now have many more options to reach each hole location. “The old Poppy Hills was almost all aerial shots,”


The third hole was the first to be sand capped during the renovation.


32 / NCGA.ORG / SUMMER 2013


Charlton said. “The new Poppy Hills, you can go after it with an aerial shot, but you can also take these side angles and play off kicker slopes to run the ball up into the center of the green. We couldn’t do that if we didn’t have sand that drained well. The firm and fast conditions are going to be huge. You don’t have to hit the ball in the air to get it close to the hole. “For the people who have played Poppy Hills a


lot, they’re going to go, ‘Well the hole is roughly in the same location, but I can play it totally different.’ “And that’s a great thing.”


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