Pebble Beach is American golf's most storied neighborhood, and one of its residents is back up to snuff.
The grand re-opening of Poppy Hills Golf Course is April 4, following more than a year under the knife at the hands of original golf course architect Robert Trent Jones Jr. The design is not only entirely different, complete with a new firm-and-fast philosophy, but the course has a brand new, water-conscious approach to agronomy. The savvy approach actually increased the amount of fairway on the course, yet water use will be reduced by 25 percent.
Golf travel experts Matt Ginella and Mike Bailey had the opportunity to play the course on a media and VIP event just prior to its re-opening, which promised an exciting golf course far upgraded from the original design that had grown somewhat worn.
"Truth is," Ginella wrote in his review, "avid golfers had divorced themselves from Poppy Hills when planning their trips to Monterey.
"As an avid golfer, a Northern California native and one of over 150,000 members of the NCGA, I'm pleased to announce that Poppy is back."
Mike Bailey, who had also played the course prior to it's redo, left impressed.
"Conditioning is impeccable," Bailey wrote. "Holes are lot more interesting, and there's a lot more fairway than they're used to be, about 60 acres to be exact."
Poppy Hills' "Amen Corner"
A point of interest for both writers was the new stretch of holes 10 through 12, dubbed by Jones Jr. as Poppy Hills' "Amen Corner."
"He took what was a weakness of the routing and made it into arguably the best three-hole stretch on the course," Ginella wrote.
The 12th hole was altered significantly from a severe dogleg par 5 to a straight par 4.
Bailey, during his round, found hazard on the par-3 11th, and wasn't happy about it.
"My only complaint," he wrote, "was some of the use of native grasses in several areas, which could swallow up balls. That happened to me on the new hole, the par-3 11th, where my tee shot landed on the back of the green, only to roll into the thick grass in between the bunker and the green."
Poppy Hills earned four stars overall from both Ginella and Bailey, while also earning top marks for conditions and value. While $210 for non-members of the Northern California Golf Association, it's still more than half the cost of its illustrious neighbor, Pebble Beach Golf Links, and $160 less than Spyglass Hill.