The NCGA became the first allied golf association in the United States to own and operate two courses when it opened Poppy Ridge in Livermore in 1996.
Inspired by the successful opening of Poppy Hills in Pebble Beach 10 years earlier, the NCGA commissioned Golf Digest’s 1995 Architect of the Year Rees Jones to weave 27 holes through the vineyards of Livermore Valley.
Building a course near the East Bay also allowed the NCGA to serve the majority of its member base. Approximately 90,000 of the NCGA’s 150,000 members live within a 65-mile radius of Poppy Ridge.
“It was an opportunity to build something different,” Jones said. “Dad had the dunes at Spyglass Hill, (my brother) Bobby had the woods at Poppy Hills and I had the open site at Poppy Ridge. So it gave the NCGA an opportunity to have a different style golf course.”
“It was a rugged piece of property,” Jones said. “It had fantastic views.”
But just one tree – a valley oak near the eighth hole of the Chardonnay nine.
“When you don’t have trees, you need something to define the shots,” Jones said. “You do that with contrasts of grasses. That’s really what the links look is all about, the brown hues versus the green. The native grasses were out there already, so we just incorporated what was natural, as my father and brother did on their sites.”