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A Look Ahead Vaughn Kezirian T

We sat down with NCGA Executive Director Vaughn Kezirian to look ahead at a very exciting 2014, one that includes the reopening of Poppy Hills, the growth of the Junior Tour, and signs that golf is on the rise.

he Poppy Hills Renova- tion is six years in the making. How did it start?

The reasons to renovate were established in 2008. The pro- cess of selecting the architect followed. We saw a number of presentations, and the natural course of that was the selection of Robert Trent Jones Jr. His involvement in the original Poppy Hills and his team’s presentation on having the opportunity to modernize it and bring it to 2014 through infrastructure, irrigation and modernization were what drew us to the Jones group. I was president of the

board in the very first meeting on the selection process. It was Jones’ understanding of the history of Poppy Hills, the history of the NCGA and the passion he had for this place that made him stand out. The original Poppy Hills was what people were doing then. It was golf course design at that time. There were some restrictions on what could be done both monetarily and environmentally, but some of those barriers weren’t in his way this time. The newer grass technologies and sand capping certainly weren’t around. •••

What are your first impres- sions of the new Poppy Hills? I’ve already seen it. I’m looking forward to playing it now. I just love the views and the sightlines. You really feel like you’re in the forest now. You see the bottom of the trees. You can stand there and see the majestic nature of the trees.

It seems wider. It seems

bigger. We’re not standing out there with a club yet, but I’ve walked the middle of the fairway, and it doesn’t seem like you’re in a tunnel anymore.

6 / NCGA.ORG / WINTER 2014

A lot of people were involved in this project. Who were some of the biggest influencers? Our former CEO Lyn Nelson was truly able to capture the project, and bring the concept of the total project to the board and orchestrate the involvement of the board with the Jones group. We’ve also got to give

credit and thanks to Bruce Charlton and Mike Gorman. Robert Trent Jones Jr. is a con- ductor. Bruce and Mike were the instrumentalists who made this project happen. All NCGA members are indebted to Poppy Holding President Derrell Biddy, who stepped in and provided steady leadership throughout the process. And we couldn’t have had

a better partner than Frontier Golf. With my history of construction—35-plus years of understanding what a project site looks like—I can say that they were an efficient, safe and clean operation from Day 1 to the completion. I’d like to give a special thank you to project manager, Tom Huesgen. •••

What should our members expect? I’m excited for all of our members to come and play the new property in Pebble Beach at an extremely reason- able price. I’m really excited for our tournament players, wheth- er they be senior, junior, scratch, or net, to have the opportunity to compete on their golf course. It is truly a championship- quality golf course.


You were the president of the NCGA in 2010, and now you are the executive director. How are you finding this role with the NCGA? This just happened. It wasn’t something that I had aspirations for. I’m serving again, that’s what I feel

like. I’m serving in golf, which is a passion for me, second only to my family. I have strengths in integrity,

and the people I’m around understand that. It’s going to be right, and I do that by example. It’s not hard for them to under- stand that. It’s really fulfilling. The staff has really stepped

up to prop me up. I could have easily failed without eight strong managers, and 27 equally as strong employees. They know the job better than I know it. I don’t try to get in the way. I just try to help—how can I help with my experience?


You have been heavily involved in the Junior Tour since its inception. What is its current state? I was on the board when we started the Junior Tour. I was sitting in those discussions when we wondered how many kids would sign up for eight events. Today I see us with 24 events on the calendar and talking about expanding. A number of young men and women who were 13 and 14 when I saw them are now playing in major college tournaments. Certainly a few will be professionals. We are seeing the fruits of our efforts. •••

How does the future of golf look to you? Reports from our member clubs are that things are looking better. The initiatives we are sup- porting—Tee It Forward, the emphasis on pace of play— are all about making the golf experience better. There’s a lot of optimism. As a golf course owner,

we need to be really strong and progressive in demonstrat- ing initiatives. As a regional golf association, we need to strive to be the best, the most efficient, and continue to grow our foundation.


Editorial & Business Office 3200 Lopez Road/P.O. Box NCGA Pebble Beach, CA 93953 (831) 625-4653 Fax: (831) 625-0150 Internet Address: E-mail:

Poppy Hills Golf Course Closed for renovation Reopening in April 2014

Poppy Ridge Golf Course Golf Reservations: (925) 456-8202 Fax: (925) 455-2020 Administration: (925) 447-6779 Golf Shop: (925) 456-8202

Editor and Publisher Scott Seward

Assistant Director of Communications and Marketing Kevin Merfeld

Marketing Manager R.J. Cerame

Media Manager Jerry Stewart

Art Direction & Production Great Graphics, Laurie Lee

Advertising Managers Tom Black

(562) 590-5143

Jim Whittemore (503) 292-4000

2014 Publication Dates Spring edition ................. Apr. 21 Summer edition .............. July 22 Fall edition ......................Oct. 20

Photos in the magazine: Scott Seward, Kevin Mer-

feld and Spencer Sorenson. Some photos supplied by featured golf courses and credited when necessary. NCGA Golf Magazine (ISSN-1524-4385) is pub-

lished quarterly by the Northern California Golf Associa- tion, 3200 Lopez Road, Pebble Beach, 93953. All rights reserved, including right of repro- duction in whole or in part in any form. Members pay an annual sub- scription fee of $1. Printed in U.S.A. Please send change of address no- tice on Member Change form (avail- able at your club). Periodical postage paid at Pebble Beach, CA and addi- tional mailing offices. Advertising contained herein does not constitute endorsement by the Northern Cali- fornia Golf Association. POSTMAS- TER: Send address changes to NCGA Golf Magazine, P. O. Box NCGA, Pebble Beach, CA. 93953-1157.

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