Saturday, September 15, 2018

Ready, Set, Florence!

Hello and welcome to The Greenkeeper!  There's an advertisement from a few years back centered on greenkeeping CLICK HERE that I simply love.  Two lines that resonate are, "You learn the weathers, the rough and the smooth,"  and "You can't control a golf course, but you can encourage it".   Today is Saturday, September 15th and we are currently experiencing rough weather as Florence has made her way into the Queen City.  The decision to close the golf course was made very early this morning as I assessed current course conditions (covered in small debris) married with what was quickly approaching.
One week from today the 2018 U.S. Mid-Am is scheduled to begin and here we are dealing with a major tropical storm.  Fortunately we've known about Florence's arrival for some time and a lot of work was accomplished this week to "encourage" the golf course to quickly recover once this tropical storm safely passes.  My team and I have applied plant growth regulator to all tees, fairways, approaches and surrounds twice this week (the forecast changed about midday Tuesday) in effort to limit growth since we don't know exactly when we will be able to mow those surfaces again.  We've applied wetting agent to the putting greens to promote rapid water infiltration and faster draining.  We even topdressed greens late Thursday evening with two tons of sand in advance of the approaching heavy rains to help keep the greens firm. 
This forecast is for more rain than we saw ten years ago when the remnants of Tropical Storm Fay dumped over 8 inches rain on Charlotte.  That was late August and we were trying to wrap up the grow-in of our restoration lead by Kris Spence.  We were nearly out of irrigation water as our reservoir was more than 12 feet below full pond, after Fay the reservoir was only about one foot below capacity.  Currently our irrigation reservoir is about 4 to 5 feet below full pond so I'm anticipating the lake to refill and lots of water to flow out through the spillway.
Earlier today I made the final course preparations as surface drain inlets were opened to promote the unimpeded flow of water and I removed all the flagsticks to prevent heaving and damage in high winds.  We've always said the course drains well and now we'll just leave her in God's hands and see how it goes.  I'll be back at the course in the morning to assess rainfall amounts and any potential changes in other conditions.  You can keep up with the regular updates on Twitter.  Here's hoping Florence decides to take it easy on the Queen City and I hope and pray each of you are safe and sound.

Stay safe,

Matthew Wharton, CGCS, MG

Monday, September 10, 2018

Dream Come True, FAQ's, and Florence!

Hello and welcome to The Greenkeeper!  Today is Monday, September 10th and we are now just seven days from the beginning of Championship Week!  Let me tell you a little story.  It's the spring of 1999 in Blacksburg, Virginia on the campus of Virginia Tech.  I'm on the 4th floor of Smyth Hall standing in the hallway outside the office of my adviser Dr. David Chalmers.  Dr. Mark Alley, one of my favorite professors who taught soil fertility walked up and asked what I was going to be doing after graduation.  I still remember the moment and my answer like it happened yesterday.  I said, "I don't know Dr. Alley, but I do know in ten years you are going to hear Johnny Miller tell the television audience that Matthew Wharton and his staff did an amazing job preparing this golf course for the U.S. Open!"  It's important to have dreams and mine was to host a major championship.  

Fast forward almost twenty years.  My life and career has traveled many places since those dream filled days.  I've been a superintendent at two different courses over the past 17 years and accomplished many great things including a major renovation and grow-in and hosted numerous events of varying magnitudes.  What takes place here next week may not be the U.S. Open and ironically Johnny Miller has announced he may finally retire from the booth after this year CLICK HERE, but the United States Golf Association will show up and there will be iconic white hole signs on every tee box, and in every cup will be a navy and white striped flag stick supporting red flags baring the letters USGA.
Capital City Club 2017 U.S. MidAm

Funny thing is we are not even the lead actor in this production as that role falls to our gracious neighbors Charlotte Country Club.  CCC has hosted multiple USGA Championships as it was the site of the 1972 U.S. Amateur won by Vinnie Giles, the 2000 U.S. Senior Amateur won by Bill Shean, Jr. and the 2010 U.S. Women's Amateur won by Danielle Kang.  I still remember the first time I heard Charlotte CC was inviting the USGA to contest the Mid Amateur and they wanted us to serve as the companion course.  We had just wrapped up hosting the 2014 North Carolina Amateur to rave reviews and I was thrilled to think we could participate in something even larger.

Carolina Golf Club is the Stroke Play Co-Host, but don't think for one second being a supporting actor diminishes the importance or magnitude of our role contesting a national championship on our Donald Ross designed golf course.  It's been very exciting for me and my team as we have counted down the days for the past year.  We strive every day to prepare and present Carolina Golf Club to you and your guests in the best possible condition, and hopefully we have met or exceeded your expectations in the process.  Each year and each growing season are different and we certainly have had our fair share of challenges this year, but hopefully you will get to see your golf course presented to the games best career and reinstated amateurs next week in a manner that will make you proud.  The 2018 US Mid Amateur is major!

The greens have survived a summer that was late starting and so far unending (ready for the humidity to get out of town), the rough is tall, thick and definitely penal if you don't drive the ball in the fairway, and I believe the golf course will provide the test the USGA is hoping for.  I do think some players that drive it well will be rewarded with great scoring opportunities and I expect to see some low scores, but I also know our course will wreck the hopes and dreams of those competitors that do not think their way around and properly execute the shots required.

I've been asked lots of questions as the tournament approaches, many revolving around changes we've made to mowing patterns and such the past two seasons.  Folks want to know what will happen to the golf course once the final putt drops and our participation in this national championship concludes.  I thought I would address some of those here for your convenience.
  1. When the tournament is over will the golf course revert back to exactly the way it was prior to implementing the changes suggested by the USGA?  I'm referring to the widening of certain closely mowed green surrounds, the elimination of other closely mowed green surrounds, and the altering of fairway widths.  I tell everyone the same thing, most of the feedback I've received has been positive and I believe many changes will be kept while possibly others will not.  If you feel strongly one way or the other I suggest you contact either your Greens and/or Golf Committees to share with them your opinions on the changes.
  2. If the golf course reverts back to pre-USGA mowing patterns, when will you make those changes?  All mowing patterns will remain as-is for the remainder of the 2018 season.  By the time the last putt drops it will be too late in the year to significantly alter the bermudagrass as the plant is already making preparations for the upcoming winter.  Thus any widening or narrowing of playing areas will not take place until spring 2019 at the earliest.
  3. Will you cut the rough lower once the tournament is over?  Similar to the answer above it could be potentially detrimental to the plant's ability to survive the upcoming winter if we lower the rough significantly this late in the year.  Also, we have the Men's Club Championship just two weeks following the Mid Am (October 5-7).
  4. Do you need gas money?  This is one of my favorites!  When first asked I wasn't entirely sure of the nature of the question, but seems the rough is so tall and difficult that folks thought we were out of gas and simply not mowing. LOL
  5. Will you aerate the greens after the tournament?  No, we performed two large, hollow tine aerations earlier this year.  You and your fellow members have made enough sacrifices and we want you to enjoy the golf course without disruption for the remainder of 2018. 
Before I go I want to talk a little about Florence.  When you're preparing a golf course for any event, let alone a USGA Championship you're always hopeful for cooperative weather.  
Knowing there is a major hurricane traveling towards the North Carolina coast stirs several emotions.  I was golf course superintendent of Swan Point Yacht & CC when Hurricane Isabel struck in September 2003.  I still remember that night and the constant "freight train" sound as the wind howled.  I remember making my way to the golf course later the next day to survey the damage as we lost numerous trees and encountered storm surge (SPYCC is located on the banks of the Potomac River near the Chesapeake Bay).  Luckily our damage was minor by comparison to what occurred in the Williamsburg and Virginia Beach areas as courses there lost trees by the hundreds.   
I'm hopeful and praying things do not get too bad in the Queen City.  I'm a big believer in preparing for the absolute worst while hoping for the best.  My heart goes out to everyone, not just superintendents that are in the path of what appears to be a potentially devastating storm.  My thoughts and prayers are many as I keep a close eye on Florence.

We've been preparing for our moment and as it nears we will continue to do what we do, make Carolina Golf Club the best it possibly can be.  It will be exciting to see how she holds up and the challenge she presents.  
My only wish is that we make you and your fellow members proud!  And one of our own goes on to win... I said it's important to have dreams ;)  Best of luck Stephen and Brett!

Brett Boner and Stephen Woodard 

See you on the course,

Matthew Wharton, CGCS, MG

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Getting Closer!

Hello and welcome to The Greenkeeper!  Today is Tuesday, August 21st and it's time for another update.  It's hard to believe it has been three weeks since my last post.  I was talking then about how summer will soon be over and the U.S. Mid-Am will be here before you know it, and here we are getting closer!  As for summer, a cool front is heading our way later today and we can expect and enjoy some much lower dew points (goodbye humidity) the next few days.  Don't worry, this isn't the end of warm temperatures, but if you haven't noticed recently the days are getting shorter and fall is getting closer.

Since my last update the golf course has benefited from a weather pattern change resulting in 4.32 inches of rainfall.  When you consider we only received 4.55 inches combined the months of June and July it's no wonder the course has greened up significantly.  Not only has the turf rebounded from the earlier dry conditions, but the density of the turf is also thicker putting a premium on playing the ball from the fairway.  We recently raised the height of cut in the rough an additional quarter inch per the USGA's request as we continue to prepare for our role as Stroke Play Co-Host in next month's Mid-Am.  I've been receiving lots of comments about the rough lately and all I can say is Director of Instruction Steve Stahl is standing by to assist you with getting the ball in the fairway.  ;)
Last week we topdressed all fairways and approaches with 250 tons of sand.  With the tournament getting closer this will be our final application this season, but after investing in the process the past four growing seasons CLICK HERE we are definitely making a positive impact to surface firmness, smoothness, and drainage.  More sand!

Speaking of the Mid-Am, we are now just 30 days away from the start of official practice rounds!  It's getting closer.  My team and I have developed a rather lengthy punch-list of items to be completed over the next four weeks as we continue to strive to prepare and present your course to the best of our abilities.  Yesterday's Maintenance Monday was like a marathon of agronomic and cultural practices taking place till late in the evening.  Our motto this year has been Whatever It Takes and sometimes that means taking advantage of the fact an approaching late day shower dissipates and staying late to apply one more tank of growth regulator before calling it a day.  Now that's #WhateverItTakes!

Now don't get me wrong, we're not there yet, but we're getting closer and I believe we are going to succeed in a presentation that will impress the field of 264.  In order to get there we are going to need your help.  We have several areas that need to grow and recover in these remaining weeks prior to the tournament.  You will be seeing more ropes and stakes and even netting in some areas as we preserve and protect the turf in order to fulfill the USGA's request.  One such area for example is near the Chipping Green and we ask that you please refrain from hitting full shots out

into the main range area.  Please utilize other areas around the Chipping Green and limit those shots to chips and/or bump & runs.  We will also be moving tee markers off certain teeing grounds planned for the tournament to ensure we present the best conditions possible.  Thank you all in advance for your cooperation and support!

Earlier I referenced the field size of 264 and you will be happy to know that at least two are our very own.  Congratulations to Brett Boner who was medalist yesterday at Cedarbrook CC in Philadelphia and Stephen Woodard who birdied the first playoff hole to claim the final spot at The Foundry GC outside Richmond, VA.  I also want to wish the best of luck to all our members attempting to qualify today, Thursday, and Friday in events in GA, NY and NC.  To read about Brett's great play at Cedarbrook yesterday click the link in the photo caption below.    
Medalist Brett Boner 
That's all for now, I need to get back to the course before attending a joint meeting of all event committees from both courses later today at Charlotte Country Club.  It's getting closer!

See you on the course,

Matthew Wharton, CGCS, MG

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Before You Know It!

Hello and welcome to The Greenkeeper!  Today is Tuesday, July 31st and it's time for another update.  Before we officially close the books on July... Really?  Seems only yesterday summer was just getting here after a slow start and now we only have one more month till football season!  Before you know it August will also be a distant memory and we will be knee deep co-hosting a USGA Championship.  But let's not get too far ahead of ourselves just yet.

Earlier this month we were closed two days for fairway aeration (you may recall this was originally scheduled for mid June and due to conflicts we pushed the operation to the week after Independence Day.  The fairways were solid tine aerated using 3/4 inch diameter tines and topdressed with 300 tons of sand.  
We are planning one more topdressing in a couple weeks, before the summer growing season comes to an end.  The spread rate will be slightly lighter (about 250 tons) and the material will only be dragged in, no aerating.

June and July have been quite dry as we have only received about 4 1/2 inches total rain the past two months.  As a result the water level in our irrigation reservoir is down several feet and the golf course shows the telltale signs of drought stress with sporadic discoloration.  On the bright side, the dryer than average conditions permit us to control the moisture on our bentgrass putting surfaces.  Despite a warmer than average first two months of summer, the greens have performed exceptionally well and I'm quite pleased with their current status.
Granted, I'm not attempting to put the cart before the horse as we still have one more challenging month to go, but considering this is the best condition we've ever been entering August, I like our chances.

Last week we had another walk through with the USGA as we continue to count down the days to the 2018 U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship.  Whether you're counting down to the first round of competition (Sep 22), the first official practice round (Sep 20), or just the Monday of Championship Week (Sep 17) it's less than 60 days away, closer to 50 actually and will be here before you know it!  This was the first course visit by tournament director Bill McCarthy since late April and we spent the entire morning last Wednesday examining the golf course and current conditions.  
We looked at winter recovery, turf density, mowing heights, fairway widths, hole locations, tee placement, and more.  Overall the USGA is very pleased with the current conditions of the golf course and we talked about taking measures over the coming weeks to preserve and protect turf conditions prior to the tournament.  It will be here before you know it.  

You've probably already noticed rope positioned across the fairway exit just shy of Number 4 green.  This is to aid our ability to grow thick rough just right of the green (constant cart traffic compacts the soil and restricts the turf's ability to grow vigorously).  We've also placed ropes along the cart path edge down Number 11 in order to limit traffic and aid the rough growing on the right side of the fairway.  In the coming weeks you will probably begin to see similar measures taken as my team and I continue to identify areas that aren't performing to tournament expectations. #StayTuned

Also, the overall height of cut (HOC) in the rough will be raised.  The rough is currently maintained at 2 inches (our normal topping point in a growing season).  The USGA is requesting a minimum of 2 1/4 to 2 1/2 inches for the championship.  When you consider the challenge our rough currently produces you can imagine what will happen when there is more of it between your clubhead and the ball.
Now before you go thinking that simply means maintaining a 2 inch rough until the tournament then simply not mowing that week, I'm sorry to tell you it doesn't exactly work that way.  You see, believe it or not the days are already getting shorter and the reduced photoperiod impacts Bermudagrass growth.  In fact, by late September when the championship arrives the turf will most likely be growing very slowly, if at all depending on weather conditions.  Thus, in order to produce thick, challenging, dare I say penal rough we will be making that final HOC adjustment sooner rather than later.  In the meantime Head Golf Professional Bobby Cox and his staff are reserving lessons to assist you with finding the fairway more frequently. :)

In other news looks like our resident Blue Heron has a new friend.  I managed to stop and capture a photo of the two stalking the creek in front of Number 16 this weekend.  Hope you enjoy.
That's all for now.  I've got to wrap up a few things before tomorrow's meeting with the Greens Committee, then it's just 31 more days till the end of meteorological summer.  Believe me, it will be over before you know it.

See you on the course,

Matthew Wharton, CGCS, MG

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Hot Start, Meeting Expectations, and Links Love Affair!

Hello and welcome to The Greenkeeper!  Today is Wednesday, July 4th and allow me to wish everyone a very happy Independence Day!  I know you're probably planning some golf and/or family activities for today's holiday so I promise not to keep you long.  In typical Charlotte fashion it's warm and humid as the dog days of summer have arrived.  We'll talk a little about how June stacked up to recent summers, the impact of heat and humidity to our bentgrass putting greens, I'll give everyone a reminder of next week's course closure for fairway aeration, and then I have something extra for all the nerdy links golf lovers if you're interested.  So let's get started.

Yesterday was the hottest day of the year thus far as we nearly tied a record high from 1931 not to mention the heat index reached 108 degrees F!
If you've been thinking it's been warm lately you're not mistaken.  After winter lingered far too long into spring the pattern changed when June arrived.  After averaging 3.89 inches rain each of the first five months of 2018, June saw our lowest total with only 1.68 inches.  The number of days we have reached 90 degrees F or above is the most since 2011 making the summer of 2018 a warm one for starters.

Despite the heat I'm very pleased to announce our greens have fared the first month of summer in excellent condition.  Usually this time of year I'm saying things like, "One Down and Two to Go" referencing the months of meteorological summer.  This year is no different, it always feels good to have one in the books but it feels even better this year because we are exceeding your expectations.
June 29, 2018
We recently wrapped up two major events, Donald Ross Day and The Ross Cup and the feedback I've received regarding the condition of our putting surfaces and the course as a whole has been overwhelmingly positive.  It's little things like the text exchange below and the tweet from Graham Stephens that make all the team's hard work worthwhile.   

"Near perfect", I'll take that after the hottest day of the year.  This past Monday we vented the greens to promote gas exchange and applied preventive fungicide as the heat wave continues.  Good news is there is some immediate relief in sight as a significant cool down with lower humidity arrives this weekend.  Not sure how long the reprieve will last but it's always nice to catch your breath even briefly during the dog days.

ICYMI - the course will be closed this coming Monday and Tuesday (July 9 and 10) for fairway aeration.  You may recall this was postponed from mid June due to a scheduling conflict.  During the course closure we will apply approximately 300 tons of sand topdressing to our 30 acres of tees, fairways, and approaches.  The areas will also receive a solid tine aeration.  
Despite our wealth of large equipment the process is very time consuming necessitating the two-day closure.  For those of you that follow on Twitter, yes you can keep tabs on our progress as I've already received one request for live action videos. :)
And finally, I said I would have a little something for the links lovers out there.  The Irish Open starts tomorrow, this year played at Ballyliffin Golf Club in County Donegal.  Here's a cool video promoting this year's event featuring their course manager tending to the links.

Then it's off to East Lothian, Scotland for this year's Scottish Open played over the links at Gullane Golf Club.  I know from following Gullane's course manager, Steward Duff things have been unseasonably warm and dry and the links are a bit toasty.  You may recall last month seeing a video of a toppled hospitality tent making the rounds on social media.  That was at Gullane during the build out for this year's event when Storm Hector wreaked a little havoc on the region CLICK HERE.  Also, the tournament's website is featuring this neat 360 degree map of the links you might enjoy CLICK HERE.  

After that it's off to Carnoustie for the playing of the 147th Open Championship.  Craig Boath, Head Greenkeeper at Carnoustie Golf Links and the team has been putting the finishing touches on the old links for some time now.  
So there you have it, three weeks of links golf, how can you not be excited.  Hope everyone enjoys today, celebrates safely and looking forward to seeing you next time.
See you on the course,

Matthew Wharton, CGCS, MG

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Aeration Recap, More Sod, The Anderson, & The US Open!

Hello and welcome to The Greenkeeper!  Today is Tuesday, June 12th and so much has happened since I last posted.  We completed establishment of the two loads of sod we received in early May.  We conducted our annual Member-Member Championship over the Memorial Day holiday weekend, then we immediately core aerated and topdressed all the putting greens.  

Since June 1 we have been playing catch up with our regular mowing schedule.  We aerated tees on the fourth, have been applying growth regulator to fairways and approaches, mowed all the warm-season native areas and today we are installing one final load of new sod to complete repairs to the South Range Tee.  Also, Stephen and Brett won The Anderson at Winged Foot and it's U.S. Open week at Shinnecock Hills, so let's get started.
I referenced we have been playing catch up with mowing.  We had 3.74 inches total rainfall at Carolina Golf Club in May but only one-half inch of that total fell in the first 15 days.  The last two weeks of May saw over 3 inches rainfall in 9 measurable rain events, including during the Member-Member.

Considering the forecast during the event and the rain all around us we definitely caught a break being able to complete all play, including a thrilling 3-way playoff in one very competitive flight, without delays.  

With the Member-Member behind us it was time to aerate greens once again.  You'll recall last time I referenced how this aeration is the final aeration planned for 2018, so it felt good when we wrapped things up on the second day.  We still had some weather related challenges as 0.60" rain fell on the entire team in less than 20 minutes on the final green of day 1.  But when you think back to the weather challenges we encountered in March CLICK HERE I won't complain one bit.
With aeration in the rear view mirror the team was excited to focus on mowing and grooming our playing surfaces.  The first half of June has been mostly dry with only 0.60" total rainfall thus far enabling us to get multiple cuts on the approaches, fairways, and rough.  We are currently enjoying the benefits of a second growth regulator application to closely mowed Bermudagrass playing surfaces and the definition is really starting to come into form.
Spectacular Morning!
An Uncommon View of No. 7
I referenced earlier we aerated tees last week and we have mowed all the warm-season native areas with our bush hog.  This is done to remove the old growth from last season along with any unwanted weeds to make room for this season's new growth.  Right now our plan is to mow these areas one or two more times before the end of summer to ensure a thick, healthy stand heading into fall.  All cool-season (fescue) areas were mowed in early spring and those areas are just now beginning to come into peak form with their trademark seedheads turning golden brown.  Those areas will only be treated for weeds between now and the end of the year, no mowing until next spring.
Squared Tees Are Cool

Bush Hogging!
Before I move on to some other interesting notes, early this morning the final sod truck arrived with new turf to complete repairs to the South Range Tee.  The majority of this teeing area did not survive winter thanks in large part to the tall trees just across the property fence.  That comfortable shade you enjoy while practicing in the summer unfortunately created too cold a micro-climate this past winter.  We installed new turf on the front half about 4 weeks ago and treatments to the remainder were unsuccessful in stimulating new growth and recovery thus necessitating the installation of new turf. 

We'll also button up a few other areas on the course and that should wrap up winter injury repairs for this year.  We do have a few areas that we will continue to push with extra fertility and spot aerate soon to encourage full recovery, but based on my conversations with my superintendent peers in the region, we made out pretty good only needing three truck loads of sod this year.

Okay, so before I go I would be remiss if I didn't share some exciting news as Carolina Golf Club members Brett Boner and Stephen Woodard won the 82nd Anderson Memorial at famed Winged Foot Golf Club this past weekend.  The Anderson is a coveted best-ball invitational for top amateur players from across the country.  Their strong play last year got them into the championship match before falling short, but this year they brought home the trophy!  

Congratulations and well played guys, now time to qualify for the upcoming U.S. Mid-Am! No pressure ;)

Before I go I want to share one final thing with you.  It's U.S. Open week and the tournament this year is being contested at Shinnecock Hills for the first time since 2004.  Last night on Live From there was an excellent piece hosted by Matt Ginella of Golf Channel featuring course superintendent Jon Jennings, his team and USGA Championship Agronomist, Darin Bevard.  Darin is a dear friend I've had the pleasure of knowing for over twenty years, going back to my graduate school days and his early days as a regional agronomist in the Mid-Atlantic Section.  After the piece aired Jon and Darin joined Rich Lerner for some live Q&A.  This clip is a little lengthy (about twenty minutes) but it has some great information that shows just how far turfgrass science has come since the last time the U.S. Open was held on these iconic Long Island links.  CLICK HERE 

Hope you enjoyed that glimpse behind the scenes.  Good luck to Jon, his team, Darin, and the army of volunteers and I hope everyone enjoys this year's second major championship, the U.S. Open.

See you on the course,

Matthew Wharton, CGCS, MG

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

More Repairs, What's Next, & Important PSA!

Hello and welcome to The Greenkeeper!  Today is Wednesday, May 16th and it's time for another update to our winter injury repairs.  Also, we are currently between our two largest spring tournaments (Member-Guest and Member-Member) and believe it or not we will be aerating greens in just two weeks.  I know, that last statement is a little hard to swallow considering March and April were unkind to growth and recovery, but I will explain so please stay with me.

The last time we were together I shared where we utilized 20 pallets (10,000 square feet) of new turf.  Exactly one week later we acquired another 20 pallets and continued the process of "erasing" the unsightliest areas.  The team prepped all areas selected for repair on Maintenance Monday, making quick work of the installation when turf arrived early the following day (last Tuesday).  
Prepped Area No. 18
Twenty pallets of new turf takes up considerable space.  We were able to immediately load four into haulers and we do our best to store as much as possible in the shade.  We quickly installed all the prepped areas from the day before wrapping up repairs on holes 1, 9 and 18.  

Repairs to tees No. 9
Repairs to No. 1 fairway continued where we left off the week prior.  We had three areas in No. 18 fairway we strongly felt would not heal in a timely fashion and installed new turf.  Hole No. 9 saw repairs made to the three most forward tees and the collar adjacent to the front right portion of the green.  

We had approximately 3,000 square feet (6 pallets) remaining and we repaired an area on the slope between the club house and cart storage building and we turfed the steep area adjacent to the pool where the three large poplar trees were removed last year.  All remaining turf was then installed at the Back Range Tee.

At this time you may be asking yourself what about some areas that still appear thin or nearly void of turf.  True, we haven't completely replaced 100 percent of all injured areas, but I believe we have replaced those on the course that do not possess the capacity to heal themselves given more time now that winter is finally over and they're receiving a little TLC (water and fertilizer).  As for the Practice Range, we will wait until after the conclusion of the Member-Member and greens aeration, then reevaluate what's in need of repairs before acquiring any new turf.

It's important to realize we experienced a morning low temperature in the 30's just two weeks ago.  The Member-Guest was contested during the warmest stretch of the year (four straight days of 90 degree plus temperatures), and although it has cooled somewhat, the moisture in the atmosphere and constant threat of rain the next several days is just what both new sod and thin areas trying to recover need.  In other words the course will continue to improve with each passing day.  

I referenced above we are scheduled to aerate greens in just two weeks.  If you were in attendance at the Annual Meeting in January I addressed how we would be taking a different approach to greens aeration this season due to our involvement with co-hosting the U.S. Mid-Am.  The good news is we will not be aerating in early September per our normal schedule.  The first round of competition begins on September 22nd and to provide proper conditions it will be necessary to forego aerating near the championship.  Also, I do not want to aerate immediately following the championship because I want you and your guests to enjoy the remainder of the fall golf season without disruption.

That means we are essentially performing our normal fall aeration three months early, immediately after Memorial Day (bad news).  Now we have always aerated immediately after Memorial Day but the process has been on a smaller scale with the objective of bridging the gap between spring and fall.  With no fall aeration this year, it's imperative we aerate aggressively enough to carry us through the entire summer and into fall without worry.  So, although you will once again be encountering freshly aerated greens (cores removed, sand topdressed) in a couple weeks you can take solace knowing it will be March 2019 before you have to endure it again.  Also, I'm certain you will be pleasantly surprised at the quicker recovery this time of year compared to spring with soil temperatures now at levels conducive for turf growth.

A couple other items before I go.  The other day the USGA published a Public Service Announcement about golf cars and their use.  I shared it on Twitter but I wanted to include it in the blog CLICK HERE because it contains really good information.  Pay particular attention to No. 4 because whenever I'm asked what is the one thing that could make Carolina Golf Club even better I always answer less traffic.  With an elevated club house and multiple elevated teeing grounds the eye is always looking down at turf stressed by heavy cart use.  I attempted several years ago CLICK HERE to encourage everyone to operate golf cars ONLY in the fairways but the practice has never become widely adopted by everyone from my observations.  

It's pretty simple, if you want to see less stress and more thick, uniform turf then avoid driving over the same areas daily.  We do our best to use short stakes or stakes and ropes to direct everyone away from highly trafficked areas but we can only do so much and your help would be greatly appreciated as we strive to improve course conditions not only as we prepare for a national championship, but more importantly for your daily enjoyment.

And to end on a positive note, I couldn't help but enjoy the site yesterday of this large turtle crossing 18 fairway.  I guess he was ready to go for a swim and he wasn't about to let me interfere with his plans.

See you on the course,

Matthew Wharton, CGCS, MG