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BEFORE


AFTER


and tilts—but the change speaks to how the emphasis in course design has shifted in the past quarter-century. Just a quick thought: It’s


headed in the right direction. Charlton candidly called


the ‘80s a “dark period” in golf course architecture, as designers followed Pete Dye in building courses to be photographed more than played. They looked great, as Charlton put it, but then people got in a deep bunker and couldn’t get out. That’s a problem. Now, in the 21st century,


since the course’s inception.


equivalent of a rollicking, ear-splitting concert. Fast forward nearly 30


years, as Jones and longtime colleague Bruce Charlton complete the renovation of Poppy Hills here in 2014. Those greens offer a reveal- ing window into how times have changed—and how Jones’ design philosophy has evolved to reflect the new reality.


“The greens used to be


8 or 9 on the stereo knob of rock music, and we’ve turned them down to 5 or 6,” said Charlton, president and chief design officer of Jones’ golf course architec- ture company. “We’re play- ing more mellow stuff now.” Jones and Charlton took


the large, obvious contours and made them more subtle. They left plenty of slopes


architects such as Jones and Charlton are listening to the land. And, with all due respect to Dye, the land is no longer scream- ing for artificial, attention- grabbing features. “In the ‘80s, we had been asked to keep up the dramatic shapes of that time—thus, the hills in the course,” Jones said of Poppy. “Now we’re smoothing it out and tying it back into the forest. . .Bottom line, we opened up the forest and popped the hills of Poppy.” This renovation, of


course, had its roots in an outdated irrigation system. The new Poppy will allow NCGA officials to manage water use more efficiently, and sand-capped fairways— now there’s a concept that didn’t exist in the 1980s— will greatly improve the course’s drainage.


The old 15th (left) was popped up in the air, but the new hole (right) has been lowered six to eight feet to let the land dictate a right-to-left shot. The new 12th hole is now a par 4 with a view of Monterey Bay (opposite page).


Jones and Charlton also sought to make the course unfold more naturally in its scenic, tree-lined setting. They softened doglegs, introduced abundant sandy- waste areas, moved some greens and brought a few ravines into play. They took a whole new


approach, in other words. “We originally built this


course on top of the land— we imposed our will on the land,” Charlton said. “The new Poppy says, ‘Let’s take it back to what the land has given us and let the course flow with the land much more.’ “The way the holes are


tied in, you don’t see the big mounds as much. The tee complexes are not lifted into the air. That gives the course the impression of much more width. It just feels so much bigger, and I think that’s true. You squish the mounds and take out the contours.” No. 8 offers one vivid


example. That hole, a par 4, was a sharp dogleg right in its previous life— really, really sharp—but now the fairway bends more gently. The green was moved significantly to the left, and the site of the old green will be re-forested.


WINTER 2014 / NCGA.ORG / 29


PHOTO: JOANN DOST


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