Course Review: Poppy Ridge (Livermore, CA)

August 13, 2012

This review has been a long time in the making. For anyone in the Northern California Area, do yourself a favor and take a day to check out Poppy Ridge in Livermore, CA. (Note, Poppy Ridge is distinct from Poppy Hills in Monterey, CA – we have also reviewed that course here.)

Poppy Ridge has fast become one of my favorite facilities in the East Bay. Given the general lack of good public golf in the peninsula, I have had to venture out to find good courses. I need look no further than Poppy Ridge. The facility has 3 championship nines, full driving range and short game facilities, and award winning clubhouse. Moreover, in this area, the deal is hard to beat. NCGA members (if you’re not and you live in NorCal, what are you doing!?) get significant discounts on merchandise and tee times, as well as a free club fitting every year. The NCGA price to play 18 is $72 for Early and Prime times on the weekend, with an additional 9 for $20, or $32 for 18. In my estimation, for the quality of golf, speed of play, and ease of booking, there is no better deal than 27 or 36 at Poppy.

 

The facility has 3 distinct nines – Chardonnay, Zinfandel, and Merlot. (Scorecard). All were designed by Rees Jones. From the tips, the nines are about the same length, with Merlot claiming the award for “longest nine” at 3593 yards. As their names suggest, each nine has a slightly different character. Chardonnay is the most “interesting” of the nines. The first green is one of those that appears to have an elephant buried under it. The second is a risk-reward par-4 that appears driveable, but in my experience really is not. Zinfandel shows slightly more teeth than Chardonnay with tighter driving areas and smaller greens. Merlot is the most exposed and strategic of the nines. The wind that is familiar to those who play in the East Bay really becomes a factor on this nine. Only the 7th hole provides a respite from the wind as it down in a valley between the 6th and 8th.

In my experience, all three nines are generally open for play, with tee times split between the nines so that no groups are really waiting on any others. This fact, In and of itself, this is the best reason to play Poppy, and the reason that I was hesitant to even write this review 🙂

 

A quick story – The par-5 8th hole on the Zinfandel course is one of those holes that has taught me a good lesson about being aggressive. Normally, I play this hole as a 3 shot hole even though I am generally within “3 wood range.” The last time I was out there, I had a nice tail wind and felt confident with my 3 wood given that I had just hit a solid 3 wood on the last par 5. I took a good swipe and ended up hooking the shot more than I had intended. The ball drew slowly and inexorably toward the hazard stakes over the creek. After muttering my usual string of swear words, I walked over to the hazard and found the ball sitting up in the deep rough. From here, I played my third to a bunker to avoid the possibility of hitting the creek and was able to get up and down for a par with a decent bunker shot. The point, i suppose, is that I gave myself a shot at a great score on the hole and was able to save a solid par after getting into a particularly bad position on the approach. My takeaway – be aggressive.

 

All in all – Poppy is a fantastic track. Not having to wait on a tee box, 27 championship holes, great facilities, a decent burger at the turn, and pretty solid golf conditions year round…What else could you possibly ask for? Join the NCGA and go play!

 

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6 Responses to “Course Review: Poppy Ridge (Livermore, CA)”


  1. I’ve played each nine at Poppy Ridge over 30 times and do believe that the course has a solid and balanced layout that both challenges and tempts the golfer. Of course the wind is the X-factor and a mere 15-20 minutes can prove to be the difference between a hole changing from scoreable to punishing.

    However, I will say that this course is completely overpriced for anyone not paying the member rate…which as you stated one show already be a member of the NCGA.

    Solid review of the course.

  2. DD4442 Says:

    Great review. As an NCGA member and San Jose resident you have convinced me to get out to Livermore (beyond Wente). Great write ups; you’re in the rotation…

  3. LG Says:

    Thanks for the comment, DD4442! I hope you enjoy Poppy! Please post your own response to this review after you’ve played.


  4. […] while to check out Wente.  By way of comparison: Poppy Ridge (just around the corner – and reviewed here by the PowerFade) is $87 for 27 holes on the weekend at NCGA rates.  I have also seen exceptionally good offers at […]


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