Friday, June 22, 2012

Congratulations, Ratings, Dress Code Revisited and Staff Update!

Hello and welcome to "The Greenkeeper"!  Today is Friday, June 22nd and the Guest Day tournament is underway...in stifling, summer conditions!  Congratulations to Webb Simpson, the 2012 United States Open Champion!  I know the Charlotte Observer likes to reference his membership at Quail Hollow Club quite often but as far as I know, Webb was a Touring Professional Member of Carolina Golf Club before he joined Quail Hollow...and I am not aware of him resigning the membership here at Carolina, therefore the United States Open Champion is a member of Carolina Golf Club...Awesome!

I wanted to briefly touch on the subject of "The Greenkeeper" and the success, or failure to reach our audience.  There have been 22 posts prior to this one.  The first 10 posts were viewed an average of 14 times when removing the high (62) and the low (3).  The second 10 posts were viewed an average of 91 times when removing the high (123) and the low (28).  The two most recent posts were viewed 48 and 44 times respectively.  So why the slow start, up trend and recent decline?  There are several clues.  "The Greenkeeper" launched at its new home in late November and the first 10 posts were made during the winter months.  The rise in "viewership" coincided with the beginning of spring and it makes sense people are more interested in the golf course and its conditioning when weather warms and the course greens up.  The current dip can be attributed to the fact I have not sent a direct email to the membership announcing an update (due to an administrative issue the General Manager is currently resolving).  The past two updates have been emailed to the membership in conjunction with other club related emails but those went out days after the update was posted to the site.  Anyway, I just wanted everybody to know I sincerely hope you are able to locate the info and reference the archived material and stay "in the know" about your golf course and the methods we use to care for it.  Please bookmark the site and save it to your favorites and check back periodically...you never know when you might discover something your friends and neighbors do not know!

On Friday, March 30th I posted to the blog "Dress Code Violation and More New Faces!".  It was then I explained about the condition of the bermudagrass turf surrounding the putting surfaces and the plan to replace with sod.  In my next post "Jim Nantz, The Driving Range Tee and 7:46 PM!" on Thursday, April 5th I included some photos of the work accomplished and described the process.  In the time since the sod was installed I can honestly say things have not gone as smoothly as I planned but I do have good news.  However, before I share with you the good news let's look back at the process.  If you recall the weather was unseasonably warm (mid to upper 80's) at the time we installed the new sod but immediately after we completed the task Mother Nature decided we were entitled to a real spring and the mercury promptly dropped.  Simultaneously we had a very busy spring with member tournaments, outside outings and the PGA qualifying events.  We rolled the greens (and collar regions) quite frequently during this time and the new sod became compacted.  During this time the turf managed to tack down roots but that is about it.  Leaf growth and development was non-existent and the new turf appeared thin with no vigor.  It was obvious the areas were in need of aeration and we managed to muddle through the busy tournament schedule without disrupting the turf but not without the questions and second guessing.  For the record I do not mind the questions as the world needs checks and balances and I appreciate being held accountable for my decisions.  I knew the Board of Governors had some concerns when I was included on an email discussion about the topic.  A couple of things I shared with them were the facts the new turf was installed in early April and the past two years when it was necessary to replace some areas damaged by winter injury we did so in early June.  Also, the new sod was taking residence immediately adjacent to established, 4-year old, mature turf.  It was impossible for the new sod to look as favorable visually when constantly being compared to a mature stand established over 4 seasons.  I also knew summer weather had not yet gripped the region.

Anyway, aeration was two weeks ago and the turf began to improve but slowly due to the still present cool conditions (morning lows in the upper 50's to low 60's).  I could see the improvement and subtle changes and knew we were close...then this week happened!  Monday, we topdressed all the new sod (3rd time since installation) with a dark sand/peat mixture (same material we use to fill divots on the driving range tee) and then Mother Nature did the rest starting Tuesday when she turned on the heat!  By yesterday morning the turf had surged in growth and came through the topdressing sand.


Back left corner of #6 Green as Viewed from Behind
Left edge of #6 Green




Back of #6 Green as Viewed from Right Side

This morning we were actually able to walk mow the collars!  We will still need to topdress the areas lightly a few more times to completely eliminate any indication where the new turf meets the old but for the most part we are no longer in violation of any dress code policies regarding collars!  For those of you who trusted I thank you for your patience and for those of you who did not I thank you for your questions and concerns.  It is good to know Carolina is filled with members who love their course and are not afraid to speak up when they see something amiss.

On Tuesday, June 5th I posted "Fairway Aeration, Perseverance, Dirty Jobs, Defections and Don't Turn Off the Fans!" and mentioned some staffing issues we were experiencing.  I am happy to report we are back to full throttle with our staff numbers as two young lads (Ivan and Dmitri) arrived this past Sunday (June 17th) from Moldova.  Ivan is our first "repeat customer" as he was employed here last year through the program.  He experienced some issues regarding his visa application and that is why he is arriving late in the season.  Also, I informed you about a young lad getting ready to start his employment with us after his high school graduation (Jeremy Smith).  Jeremy's first day was June 11th.  At this time I do not have pictures of these young men but I promise to include them next time.

That's all for now!  I hope the Guest Day participants enjoyed the course today and the Nine & Dine participants enjoy it later this evening because the staff sure was proud of the way it looked when they left!  The guys have worked very hard this year and I am happy to report spirits are up!  Until next time...

See you on the course,

Matthew Wharton
Golf Course Superintendent


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