Summer 2018

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NCGA.ORG | SUMMER 2018 35 the opportunity to host this tournament is a perfect fit for an organization like the NCGA committed to growing the game." Poppy Hills closed in March 2013 and re-opened in April 2014. Jones and his team performed a $12.5 million renovation to make the course more playable – lower- ing greens, softening doglegs, installing a new irrigation system and reducing water use by 25%. Jones made the course feel like it fits into the forest more naturally, as Shupe put it. Jones enjoyed flipping the views of tour pros who once criticized "Sloppy Poppy." Paul Azinger, Ben Crenshaw and others who had played the course during the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, and then came back for the PGA Tour Champions PURE Insurance Championship Impact- ing The First Tee, were impressed by its transformation. "I think the golf course itself, like a vine- yard, takes time to be appreciated," Jones said. "It takes time to hold a USGA cham- pionship, which in my opinion is the highest accolade. The course opened to some vilification but is now venerated; the same thing happened with Spyglass Hill, my dad's course. … "Poppy was always a great site – it's a three-dimensional course in the forest. But now that's opened up and you have a sense of where you are. I think Poppy has grown and matured." Matt Muhlenbruch savors his daily views of this new-and-improved layout. Muhlenbruch is the course superintendent, which means he wakes up at an insane hour "I think the course has all the teeth in the world to accommodate any tournament." — Robert Trent Jones Jr. Poppy Hills superintendent Matt Muhlenbruch has Poppy Hills prepped and ready for its USGA championship debut this summer. Before she became a U.S. Women's Open champion, Paula Creamer of Pleasanton was a semifinalist at the 2003 U.S. Girls' Junior. USGA

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