Nov 07, 2013 | 12:52 PM

Putting the Pop Back in Poppy

Like his dad, Robert Trent Jones, Jr. has always been a globetrotter. At present, he’s working on courses as far-flung as Argentina, Colombia, England, and China, but the Palo Alto, Calif.-based designer also works extensively in his home state. In fact, he’s wrapping up a complete rebuild of Poppy Hills, a public-access venue on the Monterey Peninsula originally built in 1986 as the home course of the Northern California Golf Association. RTJ II, in partnership with the association, has reduced the amount of irrigated turf to conserve water and introduced transitional sandy areas between turf and forest. It reopens next srping, but no word as yet if the course will ever find its way back into the rota of the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. The pros disliked the tree-lined course, ravine-slashed course with its sharp doglegs and huge funky greens (inspired by those at Augusta National), but of course Cypress Point, for which it was substituted, was a tough act to follow. Despite the changes-for-the-better at Poppy Hills, expect the current AT&T rota—Pebble Beach, Spyglass Hill, and Monterey Peninsula CC’s Shore Course—to remain intact.

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Nov 06, 2013 | 12:08 PM

White House to Clubhouse

Post-presidency, George W. Bush seems to be making up for lost time on the links, according to a story in Sunday’s New York Times, and has taken up the game again with a passion. Living in a relatively modest home in Dallas, albeit one with a putting green, he’s kept a similarly low profile in his public life, too, unless you happen to be a member at Brook Hollow Golf Glub or Las Colinas Country Club, where he likes to play early with anyone who’s around. One friend described him as a “golf-aholic”—a far cry from when he was in office and gave up the game during his first term out of deference to the troops. “I don’t want some mom whose son may have recently died to see the commander in chief playing golf,” he said at the time, but he told Golf Channel recently that he doesn’t hold President Obama’s 100-plus rounds in office against him. “I see our president criticized for playing golf. I think he ought to play golf. I know what it’s like to be in the bubble. I know the pressures of the job, and to be able to get outside and play golf with some of your pals is important for the president. It does give you an outlet.”

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Nov 05, 2013 | 01:42 PM

Out With the Old

The bulldozers returned to St. Andrews this week to begin Phase 2 of the controversial changes to the Old Course. With last year’s alterations to holes 2, 7, 11, and 17 completed, work is now underway at 3, 4, 6, 9, and 15. The changes include recontouring of green surrounds, moving bunkers closer to greens, shaving back a fairway mound at the 4th, and adding new bunkers at holes 3 and 9—the first new bunkers on the Old Course since 1949. The R&A’s consulting architect Martin Hawtree is supervising the work which is intended to stiffen the challenge of the Old Course in preparation for the return of the Open Championship in 2015.

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Nov 04, 2013 | 10:51 AM

What Did One American Architect Say To The Other?

The man on the right, with the microphone, is golf course designer Rees Jones. The man on the left, with the scroll, is Thomas Jefferson. Actually, it’s actor Bill Barker, who portrays the third President and noted architect (Monticello, the University of Virginia) as part of the “living history” on display at Colonial Williamsburg. The occasion was this past weekend’s celebration of the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Gold Course at Colonial Williamsburg’s Golden Horseshoe Golf Club. The course was built by Robert Trent Jones Sr., and redesigned 15 years ago by son Rees, who described the course—widely regarded as one of Jones Sr.’s finest—as “precise with some of the best greens and par threes in the game.” The festivities featured a conversation between Messrs. Jones and Jefferson in which they discussed architecture, golf, and the importance of outdoor activities. Plus there was a commemorative round on the Gold Course, which began with a different sort of “shot heard ‘round the world”—a “musket start” provided by riflemen in period dress.

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