Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Ranking Summer, Turf Conditions and Bob Ross!

Hello and welcome to The Greenkeeper!  Today is Tuesday, September 17th and hopefully today will be the last time we see the temperature reach 90 degrees for a while.  Shortly after last month's post (Aug 15) talked about being on the back side of Summer, seems no one told Summer and it just kept rolling along.  But before I jump straight into the weather recap, today's post will also touch on current course conditions, upcoming inputs, and I'll share with you a story I recently wrote for an industry publication.  So let's get going.

Weather: Meteorological Summer (June through August) ended back on August 31st and 2019 ranked as the 20th hottest on record overall.  Through the first three weeks of August we were on pace with last summer, which ranks 11th warmest overall.  The cooler temperatures we all enjoyed the final week of August impacted the final average as much as nine positions.
August was also a wet month with the golf course receiving 8.64 inches rainfall, including 5.05 inches between the 19th and 24th.  Prior to receiving a miniscule 0.05 inches rainfall this past Friday afternoon (September 13th), the 0.15 inches of light rain and drizzle back on August 24th was our last measurable rainfall.  Making those twenty days our second longest dry stretch this year.  The longest was twenty-six days from May 13th through June 7th.  

So the first half of September has been dry and it's been hot, with the temperature reaching at least 90 degrees on thirteen of the first sixteen days this month, and we're forecasted to reach 93 degrees again today.  We even set a record high of 98 degrees last Thursday (September 12th)!  

As of this past Sunday we were right on the heels of last year for the number of days the temperature has reached 90 degrees or above, and thanks to yesterdays warm temperatures and today's forecast we will be tied with last year at 74.  The immediate forecast looks welcoming with some cooler, seasonable temperatures the next couple days, but the long range outlook does show several more days forecasted to reach 90 degrees or above early next week. Stay tuned.

I don't know about you but I'm beginning to think the four seasons we all enjoyed as children no longer exist and have been replaced with two seasons: Summer and Not Summer.  I'm ready for Not Summer. ;)

Greens: Despite the prolonged summer-like conditions the putting greens have mostly performed above expectations this summer based on the feedback I've received.  This is due in large part to the increased rolling frequency in lieu of mowing during periods of extreme heat.  We did perform a needle tine venting on September third to promote gas exchange and a light topdressing on September ninth to aid smoothness and ball mark recovery.
This summer really highlighted the importance of aeration, airflow and surface drainage based on my overall observations and general assessment (eye test).  Perhaps you didn't notice, but the turfgrass canopy becomes thin when the soil becomes too hot and/or wet for bentgrass growth.  This thinning is especially evident in lower lying areas, usually exposing the spaces between the most recent aerification holes.  

We manage just a little under 124,600 square feet of creeping bentgrass.  That's just shy of three acres spread over twenty-two surfaces when you count the practice greens and nursery.  With fans only present on half the greens, I'd say we fared better than expected this season considering the total rainfall during June-August was 18.65 inches.  Yes, that is too wet for the needs of our putting green turf.  Also, despite the over abundance of moisture, you find much less evidence of thinning on greens that are more convex in shape (surface drainage) or where fans are present (airflow).  

Each green is unique with its own character and personality, requiring subtle differences in management from day to day.  Perhaps you don't see the same blemishes and scars from ball marks and summer heat that I do when the most important thing is how they putt, and they putt smooth and true.     

Fairways: The caveat to a wet summer is the bermudagrass fairways are in excellent condition.  Although bermudagrass is known for it's drought tolerance, it really thrives when soil moisture is readily available.  And if there is one nice thing about hot and dry conditions, it doesn't take too long after an extremely wet week like experienced in late August to quickly return to the preferred fairway conditions of firm and fast.  
No. 8
But despite the warmer than average temperatures of late, the turf is beginning to prepare for winter as growth has slowed.  As a result we are now able to back off our plant growth regulator applications and mowing frequency.  The next big item on our agenda is fall preemergent herbicide applicatons.  We started these yesterday and will continue throughout this week and next as we are treating wall-to-wall all bermudagrass playing surfaces (tees, fairways, and rough).  This application is made each year to prevent annual bluegrass and other unwanted winter annual weeds from invading our dormant playing surfaces.

Other: In other news I recently had the good fortune to write a story for Golf Course Industry magazine about caring for a Donald Ross designed golf course.  The story begins with an innocent comment made to me by a parent of a participant in the 2005 North Carolina Junior Boys Championship.  Hope you enjoy Curating a classic.

A big time shout out and hearty congratulations to Dr. Evan Long on winning the North Carolina Super Senior Amateur at Croasdaile Country Club in Durham last week.  
Winner Winner!
Evan fired rounds of 67, 68 for a 9 under par total of 135 to claim the title, well played! He becomes the second CGA Champion from Carolina Golf Club joining Stephen Woodard who claimed the Carolinas Mid Amateur back in April.  CLICK HERE for a full tourney recap of Evan's victory!  Players Club :)

And if you haven't been outside lately in the predawn hours or even twilight you've been missing out.  The sky above Carolina Golf Club has literally been alive with colors both in the early morning and late evening, as if the spirit of Bob Ross was painting happy accidents.  Here's a few of my favorite recent office views I think you'll enjoy.
Panthers Blue Uptown

Late Evening on the Banks

Early Morning Prep

Portrait of Perfection
And finally, it's hard to believe it's been nearly one year since we co-hosted the United States MidAm with Charlotte Country Club.  Brett Boner competed in this year's U.S. MidAm at, ironically another CGC, Colorado Golf Club in Parker, CO.  Commonground Golf Course in Aurora is the stroke play co-host.  Brett fired rounds of -1 at Commonground and +2 at Colorado GC in the stroke play portions and landed the No. 29 seed.  
Brett jumped out to an early 2 Up lead but his match went all 18 holes with his opponent from Pennfield, NY winning 1 Up.  I want to congratulate Brett on another outstanding performance in a USGA Championship and representing Carolina Golf Club every step of the way.  

See you on the course,

Matthew Wharton, CGCS, MG

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Back Side of Summer!

Hello and welcome to The Greenkeeper!  Today is Thursday, August 15th and summer is almost over.  Now I know what you're thinking, the first day of autumn isn't until September 23rd and the Panthers don't open the season at home against the Rams until September 8th.  Yes, but the days are now noticeably shorter and warm-season grasses have begun their preparations for the upcoming winter.  At the very least we can agree we are on the back side of summer as the first day of school is less than two weeks away (August 26th).

Weather:  The weather this summer continues to be very warm, muggy and wet.  As of yesterday we've had 50 days where the temperature has reached 90 degrees or above and 18 days where the temperature has equalled or exceed 95 degrees.  Important to note, the temperature only reached 95 plus nine times all last year, so we've doubled that in 2019!  As for rainfall, when the irrigation lake is full this time of year you know it hasn't been too dry around town.  YTD we have received 36.74 inches rainfall and our summer total (since June 1st) is 13.21 inches.
One other interesting tidbit about this summer I recently learned from Brad Panovich.  This summer is almost as warm as last, but the overall warmth this year has been driven by the daytime highs where as last summer's average daily temperatures were more driven by the elevated overnight lows.  I explained to Brad how elevated overnight lows are more problematic and stressful to cool-season grasses like our bentgrass than extreme daytime highs.  Weather geeks :)  

Greens:  We vented greens back on August 5th in response to the abundant rainfall.  Bentgrass and too much water are not a good mix during periods of elevated soil temperatures, and this process helped alleviate some of the stresses associated with soils too wet from excessive rain events.  
Before Cleanup
After a Blow and Roll
I can add water when needed much easier than I can take it away.  Despite the challenges faced this summer, overall our greens have managed to meet or exceed expectations based on the feedback I've received and I've been quite pleased with their performance as I watch balls react when striking the surface and putts roll out.  With fall around the corner firmer and faster than currently are not too far off.

Fairways:  We just completed our second topdressing this growing season.  Once again 300 tons of sand was applied to the 30 acres of tees, fairways and approaches.  Since 2015 we've applied nearly 4000 tons of sand and as a result the overall smoothness of the playing surfaces and our ability to obtain a tighter cut is much improved.  
Also, the fairways handle excessive rainfall events much better and we're not subject to lengthy periods of cart restrictions which leads to unhappy golfers.  Side Note: Considering the thickness of the rough I suggest placing the tee shot in the fairway as much as possible going forward.

Other:  Last time (click here) I referenced some new turf would be installed to improve overall course aesthetics.  The team made quick work of the 8,000 square feet of sod eliminating several unsightly areas damaged by high traffic.  I also referenced the oak tree between the 5th and 15th holes suffering from leaf scorch and as predicted, the tree has pushed out new leaves.  
New Leaves
During a recent site visit with architect Kris Spence we decided to expand the closely mowed surround left of No. 6 green and connect it to the Ross/Blue tee of No. 7.  We have started this process by scalping down the bermudagrass and topdressing heavily.  As the area begins to regrow we will mow it with our current approach/surround mowers at the same height of cut.  The process should take two to three weeks which means we should be good to go by Club Championship.  
One of our recent overnight thunderstorms damaged the pedestrian bridge spanning the creek on hole 11.  We removed the bridge, shored up the support and reinstalled.  The bridge now sits at a different angle than before but rests on solid rock and shouldn't pose anymore potential issues.
And for you nature lovers, I've spotted a fawn and its mother on several occasions for several weeks, but they're always difficult to photograph.  Yesterday morning while patrolling and checking the rain gauges I happened upon them in the middle of hole 8.  A little blurry but best I've managed so far.
Also, seems our resident herons (there are usually two) have given birth to a little one.  The images aren't the greatest as I wasn't able to get too close but I think it's the cutest thing.  Definitely have to keep our eyes out for more sightings.
Anyway, that's all for now.  Despite the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel we still have work to do, plus the extended weather outlook is calling for the entire second half of August to remain very warm and very humid.  But, our goal each day is to present the course to you in the best condition possible.  A tall order, but one this new team is getting better at each day.

See you on the course,

Matthew Wharton, CGCS, MG

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Mid-Summer Report and The Open!

Hello and welcome to The Greenkeeper!  Today is Tuesday, July 16th and it's Open Championship week!  Since 1860 there has been a tournament to determine the "Champion Golfer of the Year"!  So much history carried out over some of the grandest links in the U.K.  And this year a return to Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland, which last hosted the Open Championship in 1951, won by Max Faulkner.  But more on the Open later.

What I really want to talk about is the golf course at Carolina Golf Club and her condition as we reach the mid-point of summer.  Recall meteorological summer is defined by the months of June, July and August, thus we've reached the mid-point and I thought this would be a good time to summarize where things stand.

Weather: The weather in our region has been very summer-like of late, with daytime temperatures in the 90's and dew point temperatures in the upper 60's and low 70's (meaning very humid conditions).  Recently I learned the state of North Carolina has just experienced the all-time wettest 12 months on record and that same time period was the fifth warmest all-time.
For us locally it has been a wet start to 2019 with just over 30 inches rainfall (30.54) since January 1.  Charlotte averages about 40 inches each calendar year so with over 5 months to go we are ahead of pace.  Early June was unseasonably cool for a brief period which was a big help to assisting the putting greens and their recovery from our aeration back on June 3.  

Greens: Speaking of the putting greens, I'm happy to report we are currently in good plant health despite the oppressive heat and humidity of the dog days.  The greens continue to perform well even though elevated dew points (70 degrees and above) really place a lot of stress on the plant.  The current conditions are conducive for fungal disease development, and we've been very proactive during this period with plant protectant applications.

We continue to substitute rolling for mowing two or three times weekly.  This gives the plant a rest from the daily mechanical stress of being cut, but simultaneously helps us maintain a smooth and true putting surface with acceptable speeds.  The new light weight rollers we acquired last year have been a tremendous difference maker.  

One negative issue is ball marks.  Unrepaired or even improperly repaired ball marks leaves a very unsightly blemish on the putting greens.  During the heat of the summer, these blemishes will take WEEKS to heal.  Please repair your fresh ball marks and pitch marks, and if you're unsure of the proper method just flag me down and I'll be happy to demonstrate.  

Fairways: I've been impressed with the overall appearance and performance of our bermudagrass fairways since recovering from a very aggressive aeration week.  The deep verticutting operation we performed has tightened the canopy more than I anticipated after just one treatment, and I look forward to seeing the results going forward as we continue to perform that operation each season.  Also, the areas slow to green up this spring have responded well to their treatments and continue to grow back in.  They were harder hit this winter due to shade, traffic, and/or other factors but I'm happy to report they are practically unnoticeable.

The Committee and I have probably received more comments about the 14th fairway this year than most others.  I can tell you it has the highest percentage of Common Bermudagrass and it receives the least amount of morning sunlight due to its orientation along the property perimeter.  We may experiment with reducing traffic on that hole in the near future so keep your eyes out for signage indicating cart restrictions.
Nice lie
Two other fairway notes, we will topdress fairways and approaches once more this growing season the week of August 5th.  And I have a request for those of you that help us by filling divots in the fairway with the sand provided.  Please do not overfill the divot.  Mounded sand not only creates a mini bunker, penalizing your fellow players but causes damage to the cutting reels of the mowers.  We're looking for a smooth and level surface for the bermudagrass turf to regrow across from the edges.  If too full, please scrape excess away with your foot.  Thank you for your cooperation.

Bunkers: Earlier this year bunkers were probably the single biggest area of concern.  This was primarily related to the staffing issues we were experiencing.  With less than a full staff we attempted to get creative in the way we prepared the bunkers each day which resulted in inconsistency. Once it became clear these alternatives were not desirable we reverted back to a full rake daily.  Also, we just recently completed a thorough check of all bunkers for sand depth and distribution.  Bunker sand was even added to a few bunkers in need so hopefully you are able to avoid the bunkers, but if your ball does unfortunately find its way into one you will be pleased with the condition you are now experiencing.   

Native Areas: We just wrapped up the annual mowing of the warm-season native areas (cool-season fine fescue areas are mowed in late winter).  This was done to remove the old growth, clean up invasive weeds and make room for the new broomsedge seed stalks.  These areas are being treated with broadleaf herbicide to eradicate anything that survived the bushogging.  Wonder if the Committee will let me get some goats... just kidding.

Other: Here are a few other things worth mentioning.  The oak tree between the tees of holes 5 and 15 is not dead, but did suffer from leaf scorch during the July 4th holiday period.  We had another oak tree experience the same condition back in July 2012.  Our consulting arborist met with me late last week to confirm the diagnosis and the tree's health.  In fact, don't be surprised if new leaves are generated before fall.

My team is installing some new turf this week, so please drive with caution and avoid stepping and walking on the sod until it is sufficiently rooted.  All of these areas are located in high traffic zones so be on the lookout for stakes and ropes.  

Speaking of high traffic zones, folks playing holes 4 and 6 please refrain from parking behind both greens.  When doing so you congest the traffic both for folks playing hole 14 and the Agronomy team attempting to maneuver to and from the Turf Care Center.  It is not a coincidence the majority of the new turf being installed is immediately adjacent to the cart path where folks park and others drive around.  Thank you for your cooperation.

Staff: When discussing the bunkers above I referenced staffing issues experienced earlier this season.  The past two updates have included the faces and names of some new team members.  We hired two additional guys last week, but we also had one other hired earlier this year that unfortunately didn't work out.  At this time our numbers are one full-time equivalent shy of last year.  If I were a football coach, I would classify 2019 as a rebuilding year as only 50% of current staff were on the team this time last year.  Considering the overall condition of the golf course, I would say the team's performance far exceeds their level of experience. 

The Open Championship: So back to the best week of the year, the 148th playing of the Open Championship starts in just two more days.  If you want to get an inside scoop on the conditions of Royal Portrush before Darren Clarke strikes the opening tee shot Thursday morning, CLICK HERE to check out a special edition of The Course Reports ON SITE.  

See you on the course,

Matthew Wharton, CGCS, MG

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Aeration Recap, More Matts & the Course Reports!

Hello and welcome to The Greenkeeper!  Today is Wednesday, June 19th and I want to give you the lowdown on the cultural practices performed during Aeration Week.  I'll share some of the posts from that week depicting the action and talk a little about how the course is recovering and what you can expect in terms of course conditions in the weeks ahead.  I'll also bring you up to speed on some newer developments within the Agronomy department, and then cap things off with a share of something I think some of you will really gravitate towards and appreciate.  Let's get started.

For the first time in my tenure the golf course was closed for five consecutive days to perform cultural practices to all playing surfaces.  We first began topdressing fairways in the summer of 2014 when we reused the old bunker sand that had been replaced the prior off-season.  That was also the first season we solid tined the fairways to prevent pulling the clay soil to the surface and mixing with the applied sand.  That resulted in a commitment from the club to topdress fairways regularly during the growing season and we have only solid tine aerated since.

This year we implemented a vertical mowing operation to fairways and approaches prior to the topdressing and solid tine aeration.  The primary purpose of vertical mowing is to remove thatch but our efforts are also focused on altering the overall texture of our bermudagrasses.  Notice the plural as our fairways consist mostly of 419 hybrid Tifway bermudagrass, plus Celebration bermudagrass, Common bermudagrass, Latitude 36 bermudagrass and mutated off-type bermudagrass (most likely related to 328 hybrid Tifgreen bermudagrass).  

This potpourri blend of grasses results in fine textured areas (419 and off-types) and others more coarsely textured (Common and Celebration) growing alongside each other.  By vertical mowing the playing surfaces we are cutting both stolons (above ground stems) and rhizomes (below ground stems) and hopefully creating more growing points closer together, which over time should help the plants increase leaf density and blend the grasses together more uniformly.  The end results the committee and I hope to achieve will not happen with just one vertical mowing, so this is a process that will continue going forward, and similar to the topdressing commitment, a noticeable difference should occur within a few years.

Following the removal of the vertical mowing debris we topdressed all the fairways and approaches with 300 tons of sand (about 10 tons per acre).  The fairways were then solid tine aerated with 3/4 inch tines and the sand dragged in.  The entire process took four plus days thanks to great weather (no rain and comfortable temperatures) and a dedicated team putting in extended hours (12-14 hours Mon-Thu).  When Friday arrived we only had one fairway remaining to be solid tine aerated and thankfully we completed that operation before the rain moved in.

After 26 consecutive dry days the golf course received over an inch of rain that Friday followed by another two inches combined late Saturday and nearly all day Sunday.  That three inches of rainfall was well timed and beneficial to the putting greens as we topdressed with nearly 60 tons of sand and SOLID tine aerated using 5/8 inch tines.  That is correct, we did not remove a core this time but chose instead to create large sand channels in the upper portion of the root zone to promote better water infiltration in advance of our normal summer thunderstorm season.  Other than some normal needle tine venting as needed along the way, this is the last planned putting green disruption for 2019.
As you can see from the photo in the tweet above just one week following our major course disruption things are coming back into form quite nicely.  Or as my friends across the pond would say, "the course is in good nick".

And speaking of, I'm happy to report we have more new faces in the Agronomy Department.  Please welcome Nick Corigliano and Shawn Winks to Team CGC!  Nick is originally from Rome, NY now residing in Huntersville while Shawn hails from Syracuse, NY and lives in Rock Hill, SC. 
L-R Nick Corigliano, Shawn Winks
In Action On No. 4
Must be something about New York as the two have quickly made a formidable pair mastering bunker preparation and I'm excited to get them trained to mow greens and tees next.

Also, I have two new assistants that have joined Team CGC.  Matt Miller is originally from Landis, NC outside Salisbury.  He previously worked at both Warrior Golf Club in China Grove and The Revival Course at the Crescent in Salisbury prior to entering Central Piedmont Community College to study Turfgrass Management Technology.  While enrolled at CPCC he worked at Quail Hollow Club, including the 2017 PGA Championship before jumping ship to Carolina Golf Club in February of last year.  Matt was an instrumental part of our team for the 2018 U.S. Mid-Am but after graduation last December he decided to give another aspect of our industry a try.  After deciding he missed the golf course he reached out a few weeks ago expressing a desire to return.    
L-R Matt Miller, Matt Rollyson
Matthew Cole Rollyson was born in Fredericksburg, VA and lived in Charlotte till 2011 before his family moved to Brownsburg, Indiana outside Indianapolis.  Matt R. recently graduated from Purdue University where he obtained a bachelor's degree in Turfgrass Management and Science.  He previously worked at both West Chase Golf Club in Brownsburg and Wolf Run Golf Club in Zionsville, IN before broadening his professional turfgrass horizons with a summer internship with the New York Red Bulls last year.  I met Matt Rollyson through my connection with Dr. Cale Bigelow of Purdue University and we are very excited to have him back in the Queen City.

Speaking of new assistants and guys named Matt, the arrival of Miller and Rollyson could not be better timed as it coincides with the departure of Senior Assistant, Matt Claunch.  Matt C had an amazing opportunity to return to Pine Tree Country Club in Boynton Beach, FL and considering he just proposed to his girlfriend (she said yes by the way) life has definitely accelerated for our young photo wizard.  

I'm very happy to report CGC is better for Matt Claunch having been here and I thank him for everything he did for the golf course and golf maintenance operation.  We all wish him the best in his future endeavors, I know he's going to do great things.  

Eric Sosnowski has been promoted to Senior Assistant.  Eric has been a dependable, loyal, trustworthy and hard working member of the Agronomy Department for almost six years and I am excited for him to have this opportunity.  You may recall Eric hails from State College, PA and is a 2013 graduate of Penn State University with a bachelor's degree in Turfgrass Science.  I guess with him and Rollyson (Purdue) being in the same office it will make for an interesting ACC/Big 10 Challenge come basketball season!  

In other news, Curtis Tyrell, CGCS, MG is hosting a podcast called The Course Reports. CLICK HERE  His aim is to speak with the superintendents that are hosting televised events in an effort to give the listener inside information about the turf and course conditions.  Sure, lots of us in the superintendent community are listening to hear and learn from our peers, but Curtis is really targeting you the golf fan to enhance your viewing experience.  So if you like podcasts, this one is worth checking out. 

See you on the course,

Matthew Wharton, CGCS, MG

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Aeration Week and New Faces!

Hello and welcome to The Greenkeeper!  Today is Thursday, May 30th and I wanted to briefly touch base with you on what is going to take place on the golf course next week.  By now you should have received an official Club email with lots of information which also contained a message from Greens Chairman Ed Oden.  Hopefully his message answered any questions some of you may still have about the recent tree removal, if not I will be happy to speak with you the next time we cross paths.

Ed also took the time to explain the thought process behind Aeration Week.  In the past we always aerated greens in the spring (March) and fall (September), with a third, small-tine aeration in early June to bridge the gap between the two major operations.  Last year with the U.S. Mid-Am taking place the third week of September we were not able to aerate that time of year resulting in us moving the September aeration into the early June calendar slot.  Subsequently we did not aerate greens again until March of this year (9 months).  

The feedback last fall was overwhelmingly positive and thus the decision was made to continue with that model going forward.  What is different this year is the fairway aeration that normally takes place after Father's Day is being moved up to coincide with the greens aeration.  The thought behind overlapping the cultural practices is to minimize the course disruption to the membership.  In other words everything heals at the same time versus one area recovers before another is disrupted.  We'll give it a go next week and we welcome your feedback.  

So exactly what can you expect when the course reopens for play on Saturday, June 8th?  All greens will have been solid tine aerated and topdressed, tees will have been core aerated and topdressed, approaches and fairways will have been vertical mowed, solid tine aerated and topdressed.  We will also be aerating and topdressing the Range Tees, Short Game Area and Target Greens.  With the practice areas scheduled to reopen mid-week we will be targeting those areas Monday and Tuesday along with the putting greens.

This also means if you like videos of topdressers slinging sand or slow motion videos of aerators in action then you're in luck.  We will also get all our fans reinstalled and ready the golf course for the upcoming summer activity.  I know, it already feels like summer and with two tournaments (Member-Guest and Member-Member) now in the books, the golf course is ready for a trip to the spa. ;)
In other news, Mr. Oden's email also addressed how we've been operating below full staff.  Only three of our normal six seasonal interns have arrived and with some attrition we experienced this winter it's been challenging the past two months locating and recruiting new staff.  I am happy to report we've had some recent success and you have probably noticed a few unfamiliar faces on the team.
L-R Anthony, Trent, Colton and Jacob
Please welcome Anthony Baxter, Trent Martinez, Colton Long, and Jacob Walker to Team Carolina!  Anthony is 22 years old and from Mount Holly.  Colton is 21 years old and from Denver, NC while Jacob is 25 and hails from Lincolnton.  Anthony, Colton and Jacob are full-time members of the team.  Trent is a Civil Engineering major at the University of Colorado in Boulder and here as a summer intern.  These lads are giving it their all and we appreciate their efforts, especially in this heat.  Let them know you appreciate them when you see them.

And I want to express my heartfelt thanks to member Graham Stevens.  It's small acts such as below and kind words of encouragement that make our efforts each day worthwhile.  Please know we're working hard each and every day to make the course better than the day before.

See you on the course,

Matthew Wharton, CGCS, MG

Friday, May 3, 2019

Course Update and National Golf Day!

Hello and welcome to The Greenkeeper!  Today is Friday, May 3rd and it's finally starting to feel more like spring in the Carolinas.  Dare I even say a few days have felt more like early summer.  You will not hear any complaints from me or members of my department as these conditions are long overdue this year.  The golf course has really started to come alive and the recent dry spell means the return of firm and fast conditions.  I know you're loving the 30 plus yards of extra roll.  :)
Coming Together
You may be surprised to learn we received more rainfall in April (4.48 inches) than March (3.82 inches), but only 0.24 inches of rain has fallen since tax day (April 15th).  So after a record setting September through February (over 40 inches) and over 8 inches rain from March 1 - April 15 it appears Mother Nature has finally turned the faucet off.  Before you know it we will all be watering our lawns and complaining about the lack of rain. ;)

As course conditions continue to improve it's the rough that is currently lagging behind, but that isn't entirely unusual for the first of May.  We have completed two full mowings of the rough over the past three weeks.  The first at a slightly higher height of cut than the most recent.  We stepped down to remove as much of the lingering dormant chaff as possible to assist sunlight penetration to the canopy below.  When Bermudagrass breaks dormancy it produces all new leaves and shoots, the dormant material does not green back up.

If you look closely you will notice a considerable amount of traffic control (stakes) has been reinstalled on the course.  Cart traffic greatly impacts Bermudagrass green up, and not in a good way.  Being mindful of this as you make your way around the course and avoiding higher trafficked areas when possible can assist with turf recovery.  You will also notice we have used our aeravator in some of the most highly trafficked areas to alleviate compaction and assist recovery.

Last time CLICK HERE I talked about the removal of several trees and the reasons behind those decisions.  Since that time all the stumps have been removed, and we even transplanted a new tree - tree management means more than just tree removal.  
The stump holes have been marked as GUR - Ground Under Repair and we will continue to fill and level them to prep for new turf.  Currently the sod work in these areas is scheduled for the week of May 13th.

In other news we've been trying to hire new staff for several months now, and it's been challenging.  We've recently landed two new guys and another is scheduled to start in two weeks.  Most folks inquiring to our postings either do not respond back when an attempt to schedule a meeting or interview is made, or fail to show for said scheduled interview.  And it's not just an issue at Carolina Golf Club, or locally here in Charlotte.  I've shared many experiences with peers all across the country and labor, or the apparent lack-there-of is a major hurdle facing our industry and many others right now.  Which leads me to my next topic.

As chapter president, I was part of the GCSAA contingent that converged on Washington, D.C. earlier this week for National Golf Day.  This was the 12th annual NGD put on by the We Are Golf coalition http://wearegolf.org/ with the purpose of telling lawmakers about all the great things golf does for the economy, environment, fitness and others, and also issues affecting our businesses like the current labor situation.  It's important they know and understand who we are and what we do and the impact we make at home in their states and districts.  

I must say I found the entire experience truly awe inspiring and humbling.  Over 200 people (mostly golf course superintendents from more than 40 states) participated in a community service project the day prior on the U.S. National Mall. Nearly 20 separate projects were carried out, everything from mowing, aerating, and seeding, to planting flowers, pruning shrubs, and other necessary detail work.  I was assigned to team Green Thumb and our task was the pruning of junipers at the Korean War Veterans Memorial.  
Green Thumb
We arrived before park visitors and took a moment to absorb the memorial and all its meaning.  We then went straight to work sprucing up the memorial as hundreds and thousands of park visitors strolled by.  Sometimes visitors asked who we were and what we were doing.  When we answered they thanked us, which was humbling, but when we saw the countless veterans of World War II, Korea, and Vietnam pass by it was hard not to get choked up in their presence and we thanked them for their service.

Honor to Give Back

The next day we all converged on Capitol Hill to conduct meetings with Senators and Representatives.  In all 244 individual meetings were conducted with lawmakers and their respective staffers to discuss important issues impacting the golf industry.  It was an eye opening experience to see what goes on behind the scenes and behind closed doors in D.C., but very rewarding and worthwhile.  And it was really cool when I bumped into a Carolina Golf Club member as I exited our meeting with Senator Burr's Legislative Assistant.  Small world!
We Are Golf
Meeting With Senator Tillis' Office

Here's a link CLICK HERE to a feature about the event on Golf Channel showing Team Green Thumb and many others in action.  Anyway, the sun is shining, birds are chirping, grass is growing and it is time for you and your friends to come out and enjoy a round of golf at Carolina Golf Club before heading over to Quail Hollow to take in some Wells Fargo Championship action.    

See you on the course,

Matthew Wharton, CGCS, MG