Poppy Hills Renovation
The Northern California Golf Association obtained permits through Monterey County, and successfully completed all formal appeal processes (including the Coastal Commission), for a complete golf course and clubhouse renovation at its home facility, Poppy Hills. “We’re very appreciative to those involved and the community support that enabled us to get this approval,” says NCGA/Poppy Holding CEO Lyn Nelson. “We’re very excited about the prospects for Poppy Hills.” The renovation is not slated to begin until 2013, and will conclude by the end of 2013 with the course reopening in the spring of 2014.
- Replace irrigation system to better manage water usage
- Redesign and lessen doglegs to help the course unfold more naturally
- Replace and redesign all putting greens
- Sandcap fairways to greatly improve drainage
- Renovate the clubhouse including restaurant and restrooms
A driving force behind the renovation of the NCGA members’ course is the conservation of water. The 26-year-old course already has an excellent environmental track record through its 100% utilization of recycled water for irrigation, but the overhaul further addresses water consumption by reducing irrigated areas of turf by 14.5 acres. There will be 18 new greens and bunker complexes. Also, an enhanced forest management will be put into place to manage the health of the forest. The RTJ II design firm will lead the renovation (the architecture firm of Poppy Hills’ original creator, Robert Trent Jones, Jr.).
“We take pride in our golf course and feel this is a wonderful opportunity to enhance the layout and playing conditions,” says Nelson. ”Providing an unmatched golf experience and value for NCGA members will always be a top priority for the Association and this project seeks to enhance that experience and make our members’ course one of the finest in the nation.There will be a greater variety of tee boxes to ensure the golf experience is remarkable for players of all skill sets.”
Golf Course Renovation FAQ
When will the project start?
Construction will not start until March of 2013, although some activity will take place as we begin to stockpile supplies.
Why wait so long if you already have the permits?
Weather and growing seasons are very important to golf course renovation projects. For many reasons (project cost, reduction of course closure time) it is best to start early in the spring allowing for enough time to complete the grading, irrigation system installation as well as seeding and sodding the turf to allow for adequate grow-in before the course is opened.
How much will the project cost?
The construction portion for the golf course is approximately $6.5 million. There are other fees on top of this such as the architect’s fees, fees associated with getting the permit, consultants and some funds allocated to refreshing our clubhouse such as a new roof, heating systems, furniture, carpet and restroom refurbishment. All inclusive, including the costs to close the facility for 12 months translates into a $10.5 million project.
Why are you doing it?
The irrigation system is failing and the cost to repair is gaining in significance with parts no longer manufactured meaning we need to buy refurbished control boxes. In addition, our system (nearly eight generations old) is not capable of providing proper water management tools for us to irrigate effectively. While the course is getting a new irrigation system installed, it was also time to consider other needed improvements for the golf course. Our drainage system needs work, hence we will sand cap all fairways and fix a couple of holes to recalibrate dogleg fairways to match the increase in distance of many players as technology has changed over the years (Tour players hit drives at 310 yards today, where it was 270 in the 1980s).
Are you doing this to get back the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am?
No. We are doing this project because of the need to replace the irrigation system. We are also doing this for the members of the NCGA who are the true owners of our golf courses. When the Board of Directors decided to build a golf course for the members, the NCGA was the only regional golf association to do so; and, it was a wise decision that enables members to play great golf at a reasonable price. Members will enjoy the “new” Poppy Hills as we will also add an additional set of tee boxes allowing more selections for players to play from. This is all in support of the new initiative of “play it forward” which encourages tee box selection to match a player’s driving distance to provide the best experience regardless of age, gender or skill set. There will be plenty of opportunities for the new player and for highly-skilled players.
We have certainly enjoyed our time with the AT&T, and perhaps one day discussions may take place. At this time the events we are interested in hosting are amateur events played at the highest competitive level. Hence, discussions with the USGA have already taken place to gauge its interest and obtain feedback on design parameters to qualify for such consideration.
The design of Poppy Hills is already great, why are you changing it?
Poppy Hills rests in the Del Monte Forest, a remarkable piece of land with very natural subtle topography. Robert Trent Jones, Jr., who was the original architect, followed modern design trends of the 1980s that worked against the natural flow of the land by creating elevated greens and forced contours that do not fit well with today’s design features. As mentioned before, the calibration of dogleg distances are obsolete and the green complexes need to be reworked and modestly increased in size to allow for more hole locations.
In addition, we will design the course to be more environmentally friendly by reducing water (elimination of 14.5 acres of irrigated turf) and adding design elements of Pine Valley, currently ranked number one by Golfweek Magazine and also considered a “forested golf course.” This will become an amazing property and a showcase for Northern California that NCGA members will be proud of and will still receive a great discount to play.
When will it open?
Assuming Mother Nature cooperates, we are planning on opening day to be sometime between April 15th and May 1st. It might be even earlier if we have another year like 2012 with adequate sun and minimal rainfall to allow for better turf growth.
When can I start booking dates to play?
Securing dates for booking tournaments will not be allowed until the fall of 2013 as we need to make sure that the course is ready for full-time play. We will continue to monitor the progress, but likely will not accept member tournaments until June of 2014 when we are certain that the course is ready to accommodate large events.
When the course is closed, will there still be member discounts available to members in the area?
One of the greatest values of being an NCGA member is discounted golf at Poppy Hills and Poppy Ridge where more than 100,000 rounds of golf were played in 2011.
The NCGA’s management staff has already started negotiations with other regional courses in the area to establish an NCGA discount rate during the renovation project. As an NCGA member you will definitely get a very good price.
In fact, the NCGA will offer these great programs through a BRAND NEW feature by making these tee times and others throughout Northern California available on our own online tee time reservation system. Staff has been busy signing up courses that will provide great value for golf and the ability to promote our golf courses. This program is similar to what is offered by what is called “third party” tee time reservation systems.
Where will competitive events formerly hosted at Poppy Hills go (like the zone events) while the course is closed?
We are very pleased to report that the zone events will continue to be played at Quail Lodge Resort while the other course will be Del Monte GC, known as “The Oldest Course West of the Mississippi.” Del Monte GC is managed by the Pebble Beach Company who has made available this absolute gem for us at a very accommodating rate. We are in the process of meeting with other managers from local properties to relocate the other 21 tournaments. We will do our best to keep these local to keep travel costs down and to keep fees in the general range we currently charge.
Will the yardage or par change?
The course will grow several hundred yards to more than 7,000 while par will likely drop from 72 to 70/71.
Will an increase in yardage increase the water used to irrigate?
No, because the change to a more natural course leaves fewer acres of turf that require irrigation. We will use less water on the course; Poppy Hills is proud to use only recycled water for irrigation.
Are you renovating other parts of the facility as well?
Yes, a change to the furniture, fixtures and finishes throughout the clubhouse (including the restrooms) in addition to a permanent snack bar.
Why are you doing this now, in an unstable economy?
This was carefully considered by the Board of Directors with two thoughts resonating: 1) The dollar has never gone further and there was no way to avoid the need of replacing the irrigation system, and 2) With the golf course under construction to repair the irrigation system it was cost effective to make these changes. We did not wish to disrupt the golf course twice in making changes.
Poppy Hills is the Association’s most important asset and we see this as a wonderful opportunity to make our members’ course one of the finest in the nation.
These FAQs are great; how do I continue to be kept up to date and how do I refer questions that I don’t know the answers to?
This area will continue to expand as more information is received. We will have project updates, copies of the plans for the holes and progress reports for members to read.