NCGA Golf

Summer 2018

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every morning – he typically arrives at the course between 4:30 and 4:45 a.m., to start work at 5:00. That gives him extraordinary peace and solitude. He enjoys gorgeous sunrises, gazes toward Monterey Bay and Santa Cruz from the No. 3 tee and appreciates his pristine surroundings each morning. Muhlenbruch doesn't anticipate mak- ing many changes to the course in advance of the Girls Junior, beyond minor adjust- ments to hazard markings and grass lines. The course is essentially championship- ready, with no rough to grow. And, thankfully, the greens are not as crazy-firm as they were when Poppy Hills re-opened. "It was kind of like playing on a pool table at first," Muhlenbruch said. "The whole goal of the renovation was to have better playing conditions and use less water. I think the course has all the teeth in the world to accommodate any tour- nament. This event will be a great first step for Poppy." Shupe has been holding weekly meet- ings since October to prepare for the Girls Junior, mostly focusing on the logistics of hotels, transportation and parking. That's a hefty task for an event with a 156- player field. Poppy Hills hosts three college events annually, but it hasn't held the AT&T since 2009. Now the course moves into a different realm with the USGA and the world's finest 18-and-under female players. They will tackle a course on which the ground game matters: One of Jones' objectives in the renovation was allowing players to use the ground more, and forcing them to try to control the ball after it lands. Jones is curious to see how the players in the Girls' Junior handle this reshaped Poppy Hills. "It's not a stern test the way Spyglass is or Pebble can be," Jones said. "It's more moderate. It's a course that will yield to good thinking and good play. The real golfers, those who think well in match play, will prevail." Ron Kroichick covers golf for the San Francisco Chronicle. 36 SUMMER 2018 | NCGA.ORG It Takes an Army T he list includes walking scorers and those who'll oversee the driving range. There's also those who'll be on hand for medical services and public safety. In there too is even a pair of caddies who worked last year's championship at Boone Valley GC in Missouri. Come the 2018 U.S. Girls' Junior Championship, an army of around 150 volunteers will descend upon host Poppy Hills GC. A large number will be NCGA tournament volunteers and members, but many will also come from a cross-section of those who regularly work annual events in the region such as the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, the Safeway Open and the PGA Tour Champions Pure Insurance Open. In any case, as championship chairperson Vaughn Kezirian notes, the U.S. Girls' Junior Championship will only truly happen due to the presence of those dedicated volunteers. "You can't conduct the championship without the people that make it a USGA championship. You could just have the girls go out and play, but it wouldn't be a USGA championship experience," explained Kezirian. The NCGA annually features a team of over 200 volunteers for its championships and qualifiers. If you're interested in becoming a volunteer, please visit ncga.org/play/volunteer. The routing of Poppy Hills will be flipped for the championship, meaning the par-5 1st (pictured) will play as the 10th hole.

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