Water conservation is a top concern today, and northern California’s Poppy Hills Golf Course is championing the cause with a major renovation project. Toro irrigation technology will be a key component of the new design.


Project Background

Located in a forested area in the heart of the Monterey Peninsula, Poppy Hills is owned and operated by the Northern California Golf Association (NCGA). Drainage issues, old irrigation equipment and the desire to improve playability prompted the NCGA to consider its options for the 26-year old course. They decided it would be most cost effective to do a comprehensive renovation in conjunction with the irrigation system update, so the course would only be disrupted once.


Renovation Plans

Originally designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr., Poppy Hills is again working with Bob Jones and the RTJ II team to create a more naturalized, flowing feel in the style of Pine Valley and Pinehurst No. 2. The new design will dramatically reduce the irrigated turf area while adding more playable space with wider fairways and 18 new greens and bunker complexes.

“We’ve taken a surgical approach to the design with regard to water conservation,” says Jones. “We tried to use pinpoint accuracy to deal with water issues while keeping and enhancing the golf experience and course aesthetics. Toro has been open-minded and has advanced their technology to achieve these goals.”

To further manage water, all of the playable parts of the course will be sand-capped under the turf — adding a layer of 5 to 6 inches of custom-blended local sand over a drainage network of perforated pipe.


Toro® PrecisionSense™ Technology Identifies Problem Areas

According to Bruce Charlton, president and chief design officer at Robert Trent Jones II LLC, Toro’s PrecisionSense™ site assessment service provided critical information for the new design. This mobile sensing technology collects data on soil moisture, turf vigor, salinity, compaction and elevation on an existing golf course, then generates GIS-accurate maps to aid with irrigation system design and management.

“Toro goes in and creates detailed maps that show where the water is being used effectively — as well as where the dry spots and chronic wet areas are — so you can maximize the effect of the different micro-climates of the site,” Charlton explains. “That has been really helpful. We’re utilizing the maps to solve the problems that exist now, and when the new irrigation system is in, we’ll map it again for fine-tuning.”


Toro Wins the Bid

PrecisionSense mapping also factored into the course’s decision to go with Toro over the competition. Charlton believes it came down to Toro’s like-minded philosophy and leadership in terms of water conservation technology. “PrecisionSense is just one part of that technology,” he adds. “Toro also included a Turf Guard® wireless soil monitoring system in the proposal so the course can do a good job of accurately managing irrigation demand. The bid was very competitive — and because of everything they brought to the table, it was the obvious choice.”

Poppy Hills plans to replace its current irrigation system with new, state-of-the-art products supplied by Toro distributor Turf Star. In addition to the Turf Guard wireless sensors, components will include Toro’s GDC 2-wire field control modules that help reduce the amount of system wire required and install below ground to maintain course aesthetics. A Toro® Lynx® central control system will also help Poppy Hills manage it all and irrigate precisely where and when it’s needed.


Renovation Timing

Contractors are scheduled to begin work March 1 and construction will continue throughout this year, with the new Poppy Hills Golf Course opening in 2014. Look for more details about the Poppy Hills project and the new Toro irrigation system in an upcoming issue of Toro Advantage.

In the meantime, see toro.com/irrigation/golf or ask your local Toro distributor for more information about these Toro® irrigation products and services. You can also read more about the project on the NCGA’s Poppy Hills Golf Course Renovation Blog.