A sneak-peek at overhauled Poppy Hills Golf Course in Monterey reveals a vastly different layout: faster and firmer with wider fairways and freshly opened vistas like this stunner from the tee box of the reborn 12th hole.
Once an awkward dogleg par five, the 12th is now a par four, with artful fairway bunkers that give a kind of snaking movement to what is otherwise a straightaway hole.
The metamorphosis of the 12th marks one of the more striking changes to a course that’s been so dramatically transformed, it now appears as a different creature altogether.
Its forgiving landing zones and rustic waste areas, fringed by native grasses, reflect a throwback aesthetic that was largely lost in golf course architecture in the 1980s, when Poppy opened the first time around.
Robert Trent Jones Jr., the original designer, handled the redo, and at an opening ceremony Thursday, he said that revisiting his old work was akin to renewing wedding vows.
Certainly, he’s given it a lot of love.
The new Poppy isn’t just faster and firmer. It’s fairer, too, meting out its punishments without swallowing an unnecessary number of balls.
The layout also consumes less water, thanks to the removal of nearly 20 acres of irrigated turf.
Whether it will reclaim the spot it once held in the AT&T rota, well, that seems unlikely.
But no doubt it reflects an aesthetic that had largely been abandoned in the modern era but now, happily, has been embraced again.
The course reopens for public play April 4. See more at poppyhillsgolf.com.
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