The New Poppy Hills Makes Tourney Debut, Plays “Like U.S. Amateur Course”
Rocklin resident and veteran Northern California amateur Lynne Cowan compared it to playing in the U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship.
On Tuesday, the first official tournament to be held at the new Poppy Hills Golf Course–the annual California Senior Women’s Amateur Championship—wrapped up with Cowan winning the championship by three strokes over a group of five players.
Cowan, who shot 11-over 155 after rounds of 76 and 79, knows exactly how tough (yet gorgeous) a U.S. Amateur-prepped layout can be. In her career, the 51-year-old has played in five U.S. Amateurs.
“It’s a challenge. It’s still new and the greens are firm. It’s like a U.S. Amateur course,” said Cowan of the new Poppy Hills. “You have to be very strategic to score.”
Cowan, like many players in the Senior CWAC field, remembered playing the old Poppy Hills when the course formerly hosted the NCGA Women’s Amateur and Senior Amateur Championship. In both 2006 and 2007 Cowan won the event, which was played at Spyglass Hill and Spanish Bay last year.
One of the huge differences between the old and new versions, and one that certainly didn’t go unnoticed by the players, is that the new Poppy Hills doesn’t feature any rough.
“I think that without the rough, you have to be more precise on wedge shots going into the greens,” Cowan said. “You have to hit it just right to either get it on or get it to run up to the green.”
During the Senior CWAC, the field played a combination of the 1 Poppy and 2 Poppy tees that totaled out to a distance of 5,452 yards.
Carlsbad resident Corey Weworski, who finished tied for second at the Senior CWAC, also said that the new Poppy Hills is a test. Like Cowan, Weworski too has seen courses prepped for USGA play. In 2004, she won the U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur.
“You use every club in your bag, that’s for sure,” Weworski said. “I think it’s a fair course, and it’s still pleasing to the eye, but it’s also a challenge.”
Looking ahead, the next tournament to be held at Poppy Hills will be the 11th annual NCGA Amateur Stroke Play Championship, to be held July 11-13. Following that, the Junior Tour of Northern California will hold its Tour Championship on the course on August 4-5. Eleven-year-old Lucy Li, who became the youngest player to qualify for the U.S. Women’s Open in a Sectional at Half Moon Bay Golf Links on Monday and fellow qualifier Kathleen Scavo are current JTNC members.
Later in September, the Champions Tour will arrive for what has become one of the players’ favorites, the Nature Valley First Tee Open at Pebble Beach. Poppy Hills will be one of the two courses used for the First Tee Open through at least 2016.
Last year, the field for the First Tee Open was every bit as strong as a Champions Tour major. Overall, 28 of the top 30 from the 2012 Champions Tour money list and 45 of the top 50 from the 2013 money list (at the time) competed in the tournament, including all of the captains and assistants for the Presidents Cup.