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If the New Poppy plays firm and fast—and that’s part of the plan—players often will have the option of hitting the ball short of the green and using the ground as their ally.


often will have the option of hitting the ball short of the green and using the ground as their ally. Charlton expects this to


become a popular feature of the redesigned course. It could level the playing field a bit, allowing high- handicap golfers to use their imagination to hit cool recovery shots. “Old Poppy was all about


aerial attack into most of the greens,” Charlton said. “There are still some greens like that. But if you’re a sly, smart fox, and the course plays firm and fast, there are a number of places where you can use the ground.” This is not a concept


Jones and Charlton espouse only at Poppy. They once


belonged to the crowd of ar- chitects prone to surround- ing every green with deep, menacing bunkers. They strayed from this


habit in recent years, discov- ering the joys and effective- ness of variety. “I’d say about eight or


nine years ago, we went away from every green com- plex being so well guarded that you had to attack by air,” Charlton said. “In the past five or six years, we’ve taken the open-entry con- cept—take away some of those bunkers and use short grass as defense. “It seems to frustrate


the heck out of top play- ers. They used to be in a 4-to-6-foot bunker and now they’re 4 to 6 feet below the


green in short grass. Now players have to think.” That’s a guiding prin- ciple of the way Jones and Charlton approach golf course design in 2014. So is water conservation. Water use was top of mind in the redesign, from New Poppy’s sprawling sandy waste areas (no sprin- klers needed) to removing the lake alongside No. 5. In all, the project reduced irrigated land areas by approximately 25%. Nope, we’re not in the


1980s anymore. “It’s a renovation,” Jones


said, “but it’s really a new course.”


RON KROICHICK covers golf for the San Francisco Chronicle.


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