Friday, April 16, 2021

It's a Small Golf World!

Hello and welcome to The Greenkeeper!  Today is Friday, April 16th and my heart and soul goes out to the entire Virginia Tech community on this remembrance day.  So much has happened since my last post.  The Easter Bunny returned to Carolina Golf Club, Hideki Matsuyama won the Masters and Will Zalatoris continues to be the hottest golfer on the planet without status!

Spring continues to be a roller coaster in our region as the golf course continues to wake from winter hibernation.  Although many mowing operations have returned, the frequency is less than peek growing season as cold snaps continue to slow progress.  In fact, we are experiencing another cold snap as temperatures this morning dipped to 41 degrees F.  The graph below depicts the daily average temperature at CGC from March 1 through April 15 (yesterday). 

Greenkeeper App

Although in Centigrade, it is easy to see the rapid dips followed by the gradual warm ups that characterized March.  This past week has seen the steadiest of temperatures from day to day, which is nice considering we experienced frost on the first and second of this month!  It will be interesting to revisit and see how the back half of April shakes out.

If asked to compare the course to years past, I would say things are about average.  We have definitely been greener and farther along with growth some years, but I would also say there have been plenty other years where the course was lagging behind 2021.  We have made two mowings to all the rough to open the canopy, and you can see plenty of new green leaves emerging from under the remaining dormant material.  

Landscaping should be wrapped up today as all on-course mulch areas have been tidied and refreshed.  We addressed all the clubhouse and parking areas prior to Easter.  Tee box realignment (you may have noticed blue dash marks along the edges) continues to progress and I marked all the fairway edges too as some areas between fairway and rough have become blurred due to heavy cart traffic associated with record rounds.  In fact, through March 31 rounds are up more than 12% over last year with over 5000 rounds played since January 1!

You may recall some time back I mentioned this past winter was the coldest in our region in six years.  I do think we are now far enough along into spring to recognize areas that are slow to recover as a result.  Most notably the high cart traffic exit points and the rough on the north side of large trees.  Not to worry, they will recover, they're just stumbling out of the starting block.

Things could be worse, the hard freeze that gripped the central southern region this winter has Southern Hills in Tulsa, Oklahoma patching and replacing damaged turf areas much sooner than normal years after the turf succumbed to freezing cold and north winds.  The Perry Maxwell masterpiece was recently restored by Gil Hanse and they are scheduled to host this year's Senior PGA Championship at the end of May.  I tip my cap to superintendent Russ Myers and his team as they battle the elements, just another example of how Mother Nature always wins.

Before I go, let's go back to last week's Masters.  Hideki Matsuyama became the first male golfer from Japan to win.  When I was growing up watching the Masters was the one time each year I got to see Japanese legends like Isao Aoki, Jumbo Ozaki, and Tommy Nakajima play.  Ok, so Aoki did play and win on the PGA Tour, but mostly the Masters was the only time Americans really got to see these legendary players compete.

At the conclusion of this year's Masters the golfing world was touched when Hideki's caddy respectfully bowed to the course.

I can tell you I was not at all surprised by this gesture.  From January 2000 to April 2002 I was the Assistant Superintendent of Augustine Golf Club in Stafford, Virginia.  And at that time Augustine was owned by a Japanese businessman named Tadahiko Nukui.  We had a full-time translator on site, Fumio Jenkins and when possible I would ask her questions about Japan and Japanese culture.  I learned that golf courses are considered sacred ground and the course is treated with the utmost respect.

In fact, Augustine Golf Club operated as a Cart Path Only facility 365 days a year.  If you had a physical disability that required you taking your cart off the path, you were only permitted to ride in the rough, never on the fairways.  Mr. Nukui and his family would visit Augustine two or three times each year and it was a great learning experience early in my career.  Mr. Nukui also owned and operated two courses in Japan, Green Park Country Club and Sendai Minami Golf Club.

I left Augustine in the spring of 2002 to take my first head superintendent position, and unfortunately lost touch with the Nukui family.  In fact, Mr. Nukui eventually sold Augustine Golf Club but in May of 2000 we did host a professional tournament for the Tear Drop Tour.  A few young players you may recognize competed in that event are Jason Gore and Zach Johnson.

I remember there was a three-way sudden death playoff involving Tim Petrovic, a player I cannot remember, and the eventual winner, Stephen Woodard.  Yes, our Stephen Woodard!  

So there you have it, somehow through the greatest of all games we find ourselves connected to the reigning Masters Champion, Hideki Matsuyama.  And now you know, the rest of the story.

See you on the course,

Matthew Wharton, CGCS, MG

Friday, March 26, 2021

Course News, Good News, and Best News!

Hello and welcome to The Greenkeeper!  Today is Friday, March 26th and it pleases me to bring you this brief update on and off the golf course.  I will touch on the recent greens aerification and recovery progress.  We'll talk about spring preemergent herbicide applications, mowing operations, and other tasks as we continue to ready the course for the upcoming season.  Then I'll share with you some good news, followed by an update containing the best news.  So let's get started.

Putting greens were aerified and topdressed back on the first and second.  This is the earliest we've performed spring aerfication and I know some folks were curious to the modification of the schedule.  Granted, in order to fully recover from spring aerification we need growing conditions and these are controlled more by soil temperatures than ambient air temperatures (this is why the course is never immediately in spring form when we get unseasonably warm temperatures in February or early March).  

So, why would I aerify greens when the soil temperatures are not in the optimum range you ask?  Great question and the answer is a couple of reasons actually.  One, our greens had been subjected to the most intense traffic in their history with record rounds played each month since the beginning of the pandemic last spring.  Not to mention, our last aerification took place in early June meaning the greens had endured nine consecutive months of heavy play without relief.  This in turn negatively impacted water infiltration rates causing puddling and ponding even after small rain events in spite of our wetting agent regime.  Two, the busiest month for golf last year was April.  That's right, more rounds of golf were played in April 2020 than any other month and that includes May, June, July, and August which all have more daylight hours.

So, when you're trying to ready the course to accommodate high demand in April, some compromises and adjustments are made.  We may have stumbled out of the starting blocks, but it certainly appears things are trending in the right direction for what we hope is a spectacular spring golf season at CGC.

March 26, 2021

March 26, 2021

Following the completion of greens aerification we managed to treat the entire course with preemergent herbicide for the management of crabgrass and goosegrass this coming year.  If you haven't treated your home lawns for crabgrass do not delay much longer.  Forsythia hasn't dropped its blooms yet across town but the clock is ticking.

All of our cool-season natural/native areas were mowed and cleaned up using our Super 600!  This removed both old and unwanted growth and permitted us to get a good application of our preemergent herbicide combination in those areas too.  The predominant warm-season areas will be mowed in early June.

As for the remainder of the golf course, we mowed all rough this week and again used our Super 600 to clean up the clippings.  The first mowing of rough is always at a lower height of cut than normal play to open the canopy and allow sunlight to penetrate and warm the soil (this is why you always see the tees, fairways, and approaches green up faster than the rough).  

Mowing Native

Preemergent Application

Mowing Rough
We had planned to make the first cut on fairways and approaches this morning but Mother Nature had other plans by dropping over 1.5 inches rain last night.  So you can expect to see these areas get trimmed and groomed next week when the course dries out.

In other news, I'm excited to announce Assistant Superintendent Matthew Rollyson was selected to join the Agronomy Volunteer Team at the upcoming Augusta National Women's Amateur.  Mr. Boilermaker will be heading down to Georgia on Sunday to help prepare the courses this coming week.  Rounds 1 and 2 are played at Champions Retreat on March 31st and April 1st.  The final round is played at Augusta National Golf Club on Saturday, April 3rd.  We are thrilled here at CGC Agronomy to have Matthew selected for this opportunity.

Mr. Boilermaker!
And, in the best news department, Darless beat cancer!  Yes, you heard correctly, following four long months of chemotherapy followed by surgery just one week ago today, she received a clean bill of health yesterday when we met with the surgical oncologist, Dr. Turk to get her pathology report!  We are thrilled to come through this arduous journey and we cannot thank everyone at Carolina Golf Club enough for your unending well wishes and support.

Dr. Joshi, Medical Oncology

Dr. Turk, Surgical Oncology

Flowers from CGC
Flowers from CWGA

That's all I have time for now, we're still tidying up the course in preparation for tomorrow's Donald Ross event.  Unfortunately I believe it will most likely be cart path only, but best of luck to both teams!

See you on the course,

Matthew Wharton, CGCS, MG 

Friday, March 5, 2021

Aerification Recap, the Back of the Range, and the King!

Hello and welcome to The Greenkeeper!  Today is Friday, March 5th and I want to bring you up to speed on the recent aerification to the putting greens and talk about what you will see happening on the course over the coming weeks.  With meteorological winter in the books there is much to accomplish before the arrival of mowing season.  So let's get started.

On Monday and Tuesday we aerified all 22 putting greens with 12 mm diameter solid tines at a depth of nine inches.  This was done using our Toro SR70-S attached to our John Deere tractor.  You may or may not have seen a tweet on Thursday of last week when we made a practice run across the nursery green.

Following the deep tine process was the immediate coring using two Toro 648 aerifiers equipped with hollow tines measuring 0.41 inch at the inside diameter.  This was the first core removal since spring aerification last year on March 9th and 10th.  

We did receive three-tenths inch of rain on Monday in the form of off-and-on showers and drizzle during the first half of the day.  Although I could keep going with the deep tine machine, it did delay the walk behind units a couple hours and more importantly delayed the cleanup and removal of the cores as only eight greens were completed before darkness.

Day Two started with core removal and cleanup of the fourteen remaining greens.  All greens were then topdressed with sand, brushed to incorporate sand into the aerification holes, and rolled two times.  The temperature dropped as the day progressed and just when we wrapped up our last green we were treated to a beautiful sunset.  I shared the photo with my granddaughter and told her I also see God's glory at night, not just in the mornings.

Nothing improves greenkeeper morale like wrapping up putting green aerification.  The drive home was loud and a celebratory toast warmed my cold bones.

Speaking of cold, if you were wondering why you couldn't seem to shake a chill this winter, well, it's because we just experienced the coldest winter in the Queen City since 2015!  Of course, nothing makes the cold feel colder than rain and we had thirteen inches fall on the golf course during meteorological winter this season.  That makes the third consecutive winter with more than one foot of rain!

Courtesy of Brad Panovich, WCNC

The good news is there isn't any rain in the forecast and we are slowly beginning to dry out.  You may have already noticed a greener tinge to the fairways following last weekend's spectacular spring-like days where the temperature climbed to 73 degrees!  Forsythia is beginning to bloom about town meaning it is time to make preemergent herbicide applications for the prevention of crabgrass and goosegrass.

We will be treating the golf course all next week, 100 acres of bermudagrass tees, fairways and rough plus the practice range and more.  In case you're wondering, yes, it is also time to treat your home lawns too!  Now is also the time to mow the fine-fescue and make preemergent herbicide applications to those natural areas.  You will see the Super 600 in action next week and the team will mow other areas by hand where the terrain is too steep for our piece of kit.

Wednesday I met with with the 2021 Green Committee.  We have four new members this year and a new chairman.  Brett Boner has served on the committee since 2011 and will chair the group this year as former chairman Ed Oden now serves as Club President.  One topic discussed was drainage, and the group was happy to learn my team and I have identified several areas we will be installing additional drainage once we wrap up the natural area mowing and preemergent applications.  

Well, there it is, a recap of aerification and a game plan for the next few weeks.  As you anxiously wait for the greens to recover and heal from their long overdue break I found something you might enjoy.  If you're into podcasts you can check out Brett Boner on The Back of the Range Podcast hosted by Ben Adelberg CLICK HERE.  Seems Brett and Ben were talking on the same day Tiger Woods wrecked his courtesy car.  Did you know Brett and Tiger were paired together for two rounds as juniors?  Neither did I until I listened to this interview.  If you like amateur golf, and stories from the mini tours you'll enjoy this episode.

And finally, its Arnold Palmer Invitational week on the PGA Tour.  Early yesterday morning Golf Today asked people to share stories about meeting Mr. Palmer on Twitter.  I posted a quick reply about my one and only encounter with the King.  A few hours later I received the photo below in a text from Eric Mauntel. 

Well, what do you know.  Thanks Golf Channel for sharing our story.  Chris Anderson (pictured far right) also saw it from his home in Florida and texted all the group with the caption, "We're famous!"  LOL, thanks Arnold!

Before I go I was excited to see the announcement yesterday from the Golf Professional Staff announcing Ryan Parker and Jason Rossetti recently qualified for the U.S. Amateur Four-Ball to be played later this year at Chambers Bay!  Way to go guys and looking forward to seeing the CGC represented in the PNW!

See you on the course,

Matthew Wharton, CGCS, MG  

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Brighter Days Ahead!

Hello and welcome to The Greenkeeper!  Today is Wednesday, February 10th and I'm blaming the Groundhog for the fact we are still in winter's grip at Carolina Golf Club!  One of the great advantages to living in the southeast is winters can be mild, especially when compared to the snowier northeast and mid-west regions.  I grew up in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains in far southwestern Virginia at a time when snow was plentiful and common.  

Through the years winters back home have become wetter, with less snow but this year Mom tells me they've experienced quite a bit, including about six inches just before Christmas!  I stated during the recent annual meeting that 2020 was our third consecutive year with over 57 inches rainfall, and you don't receive more than one foot above average with dry winters.

Our pattern seems to consist of bright blue skies and sunshine when cold air is in place.  Radiational cooling each evening (this is the loss of heat to the atmosphere via the lack of insulating cloud cover) drops our temperatures well below freezing and in turn we wake to start each day delayed with frost.  When warmer temperatures do move into the region they typically bring with them an influx of moisture and it rains, while the I40 corridor magically continues to be the sweet spot for snow.

What's the point of all this you ask?  There isn't one, other than it's therapeutic in some sorts to put my thoughts on "paper".  My wife is now just one week away from her last chemotherapy infusion, and to say the past three months have been stressful would be the understatement of the year!  In that time I've tried diligently to be a good husband, a good superintendent, a good coworker, and a good team leader all while keeping my wife, my team, and myself safe.

There are times I'm thankful this happened in the winter as it's been easier (relatively speaking) for me to assist and accompany her to appointments and treatments.  I would not wish anyone who is battling cancer to have to go it alone.  I can't imagine trying to do all I am currently for her and simultaneously keep the course alive if this were the middle of summer.

But simultaneously she's been relegated to working from home during the most bleak time of year.  Short days with gloomy cloud cover and/or cold, wet days are not really a great recipe for cheery happiness.  Oh, what I wouldn't give for a few warm, sunny days and a chance to walk around the neighborhood together.

At the end of the day she and I are just thankful we have each other along with the support of each of you.  Your thoughts, prayers and goodwill have carried us through and we look forward to the day when she can safely return to the office and everyone can enjoy seeing one another in person.  Hopefully by then spring will be here and winter will be a distant memory.  I know we're all ready for brighter days ahead.

I'm anxious for the course to green back up and for the new season to start at Carolina Golf Club.  I look forward to working with my new chairman and the newcomers to the committee.  I'm excited for the return of tournaments and events.  And I'm ready to see each of you on the course in a manner that doesn't require an extended distance and/or a mask.  

But before then we have to make our annual preemergent applications for the management of crabgrass and goosegrass.  And believe it or not, spring greens aerification is now less than three weeks away (Mar 1 & 2).  But in the meantime, she's going to ring that bell in one week!  And I can't wait!

Thanks for listening,

Matthew Wharton, CGCS, MG

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Hindsight is 20:20!

Hello and welcome to The Greenkeeper!  Today is Thursday, January 14th and I want to wish each of you a belated Happy New Year!  I want to thank everyone at Carolina Golf Club for their continued well wishes and support as Mrs. Greenkeeper continues her fight.  I promise every card, email, and personal gesture has helped bolster her strength and courage as we carry on.  At this time she has completed four chemotherapy treatments of a prescribed six.  Her next treatment will be on January 27th and her final one is scheduled for February 17th so she is inching ever closer to ringing that bell.  

She continues to work everyday from home, so you can reach her readily via email and I continue to do my best to keep her safe as we navigate this journey through an ongoing pandemic.  That is why you see me more often from a distance and with a mask.  It has been difficult because seeing and interacting with you on a daily basis has always been one of the highlights to my day, but keeping her safe is job one.  So again, thank you all for your support!

I think the above image was one of the funniest I came across when we flipped the calendar a couple weeks ago, but despite all the connotations in that garbage bag there were some positive things that happened last year.  More golf was played at Carolina Golf Club than ever, in fact, you played more golf in April of last year than any other month. And there were no carts available the entire month of April!  As a whole, walking rounds for the entire year were up 193% over 2019, so kudos to you all for stretching those legs and making golf a staple of a healthy lifestyle!

Another interesting statistic from last year is the fact we broke the 30,000 rounds barrier while it rained nearly 60 inches and the most in Charlotte since 2003!  Prior to the pandemic and its impact on everyone's daily routines, rounds of golf would mirror the weather.  When nice, rounds were up and when less than ideal people shied away from the course.  And that is still true as it relates to those days when the weather is absolutely unplayable, but you don't play that much golf in a year with 120 measurable rain events unless you're willing to brave some elements and for that I commend you!

Another good thing to come from 2020 and was hinted in the blog's title is I was one of three winners selected on Thanksgiving day to receive a free CourseVision map of Carolina Golf Club!  Valued at $1,500 this interactive digital map is most impressive. CLICK HERE to learn more about CourseVision.

I'll admit I knew very little about the company prior to being selected, but after working with Jeff Ryan and providing his team with some property details that helped create the map, I am most impressed with the finished product and really believe its value is even far greater than retail.  I received the finished product on Monday and spent close to two hours online with Jeff being tutored on the map and its capabilities.  I'm excited to play with it and become more familiar as I believe it will serve us well as we approach our centennial.
Building Labels
The map even contains all the City Parcels containing and surrounding Carolina Golf Club.  You can see below how holes 1 and 2 along with our irrigation reservoir sit on the old Winston property acquired by the club in 2004.

City Parcels

In golf course related news, our Willow Oak and Yoshino Cherry trees were banded to protect against cankerworm in late December.  This week we trimmed the warm-season ornamental grasses and have now started edging cart paths.  We have close to five miles of cart paths as highlighted below by CourseVision.

Cart Paths

In other news we are saddened to announce the passing last week of agronomy team member Angelo Jones.  Angelo joined our team in the summer of 2017 and switched to part-time status two years later.  As I've always told my team members, there is no such thing as a small or insignificant task and Angleo always performed his tasks with a warm smile.    

Rest In Peace.

See you on the course,

Matthew Wharton, CGCS, MG

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

I'll Be Home For Christmas!

Hello and welcome to The Greenkeeper!  Today is Wednesday, December 23rd and I would like to wish each of you and your families a very, merry Christmas.  In the four weeks since my last post the outpouring for my wife has been overwhelming.  I want to thank you for your support and tell you it has given us more strength and hope than you could ever know.

Regular readers of The Greenkeeper will recognize this is the time of year when I give you one last update on the weather stats for the year, plead to be careful for frost on either Christmas Eve and/or Christmas Day, and then announce we're off to Virginia for a few days to spend Christmas with our families.  Both of our mothers live in Virginia along with both sons and their families.

But 2020 will mark the first time I wake up in my own house on Christmas morning in nearly twenty-five years!  Covid and chemo do not mix and we are not taking any risks.  It will look and feel very different this year, but hopefully it is a small price to pay for many more Christmases together in the future.

So, if you're here for the weather stats I can tell you this past Sunday's rain pushed 2020 passed 2018 for the wettest year in my tenure.  2020 has brought 58.95 inches rainfall to Carolina Golf Club.  Last year (2019) saw 57.20 inches fall on the golf course and 2018 delivered 58.60 inches!  That's right, 174.75 inches have fallen the past three years.  That is more than 14 FEET of rainfall (14.5625) folks!

Considering the city of Charlotte typically averages about 42 inches annually you realize the past three years are really amazing.  What's more is we are expecting even more rain tomorrow (possibly over one inch) as a cold front passes through the region ushering in some bitterly cold temperatures for Christmas Day, so the 2020 final tally is still to be determined with eight days remaining.

There is no threat of frost on Christmas Eve morning so those of you planning to play should have no concerns other than dealing with strong winds and periods of heavy rain and possibly a thunderstorm.  But I'm gathering with an expected high temperature of only 38 degrees on Christmas Day not too many will venture to the course.  Hopefully you are snug and warm at home unwrapping a new club from the man in red!  Perhaps we will see you again on Boxing Day, and if you are scheduled to play on Saturday anticipate a potentially lengthy frost delay as temperatures are expected to be down in the lower 20s that morning.  Brrrr!

Well there you have it, my final post of what has been the craziest year I've ever lived.  My Christmas wish for everyone is that 2021 will be much kinder to us all!  I pray for healing!  Not just for my wife and her cancer, but for everyone dealing with sickness and disease.  Healing for our country after a most divisive year.  And healing for the world as it continues to try and overcome this virus.

Also, may each of you find peace, tranquility, love, happiness and comfort with your families and loved ones this holiday season and I look forward to seeing you on the golf course in 2021!

Merry Christmas CGC,

Matthew Wharton, CGCS, MG

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Grateful For Golf!

Hello and welcome to The Greenkeeper!  Today is Wednesday, November 25th and it's time for what I believe has slowly grown into a Carolina Tradition, my Thanksgiving list.  Did you know this marks the 10th annual list to appear on this blog page, my goodness, how time flies.  But before we get down to the business of gratitude I will remind each of you although the club is closed tomorrow, the golf course is available (walking only) for those wanting to squeeze in a quick round before or after your Thanksgiving dinner.  I believe we're in for some colder weather early next week, so if you can get away come on out and enjoy a round of golf tomorrow.

Those of you that have made it a point to play on Thanksgiving the past several years know my day starts with a quick ride through the course to ensure everything is in order.  And if there is no frost I typically exit out the back gate and return home before everyone wakes.  This year we do not have family visiting and there is no threat of frost tomorrow, so you may see me with some hickory clubs in tow.  Also, we may have some lingering showers in the early morning, so be prepared.

Now, on to this year's list.  I've been thinking about this list for months.  In a year that brought us lockdowns, quarantines, self-isolation, social distancing, and uncertainty.  Followed by civil unrest, peaceful protests, riots and a contentious election what could one possibly be thankful for?  It would be easy to declare 2020 the worst year in memory just for the toilet paper shortages alone.  

But I feel I must highlight and give thanks for any and all good things, no matter how trivial or impactful that occurred this year, otherwise it would be impossible to survive 2020.  So here are a few things I'm thankful for this year:

  • Black and White photography - When Philadelphia golf course photographer Jon Cavalier (A.K.A. Links Gems) visited the course on his way to Florida just after Christmas last year, I was unsure how a dormant CGC might look.  Not only that, but we had encountered significant rainfall (1.5 inches) just three days before he played and we all know how messy that can be.  A few days later I was pleasantly surprised to see the Links Gems tweet on Jan 5 in black and white!  Well done Jon!
  • The Fried Egg Podcast - Toro sponsored a Superintendent Series of the Fried Egg Podcast in 2020 that featured guys like fellow Master Greenkeeper Steve Cook from Medinah, Australian Stephen Britton from Chevy Chase, and good friends Tony Nysse (Mountain Lake) and Josh Lewis (Sharon Heights) to name a few. Back in February I had the pleasure of sitting down with Andy Johnson, along with Edric Funk of Toro, in the Toro booth at the Golf Industry Show in Orlando.  Thanks for including me Andy! CLICK HERE FOR PODCAST
  • Streaming - Thank goodness for Netflix and Amazon Prime because if we couldn't binge on Vikings, The Crown, Yellowstone, and most recently The Queen's Gambit how on earth would we have survived! ;)

  • Approved Outdoor Activities - In late March when the world changed for all of us and golf courses across the country and other parts of the world closed their doors we were fortunate in North Carolina that golf was an approved outdoor activity.  Golf is important to North Carolina's economy and a coalition of industry leaders made up of owners, professionals and superintendents made a powerful case to keep your courses open when other places did not.  I stated on more than one occasion I felt golf had the potential to be a beacon of hope for members of the community.  A place to escape the insanity and stress by breathing fresh air and exercising the body and mind.  I am so thankful we were able to continue providing you and your families and guests this outlet in a manner as safe as possible!

  • The Virginia Tech >> Purdue Connection - Dr. Cale Bigelow is a professor of horticulture at Purdue University.  He is also a graduate of Virginia Tech.  Although our times at VT did not overlap we did share the same major professor, Dr. David Chalmers.  And this connection has led to a special kinship for more than 20 years.  Assistant Superintendent Matthew Rollyson came to Carolina Golf Club from Purdue University in 2019 and this year Jarret Price was our summer intern.  JP's arrival in mid-May could not have been more timely considering the headache that was employee recruitment and retention this year!  We are definitely thankful for his contributions to our operation in 2020, and wish him well as he is currently continuing his studies in West Lafayette, IN.
  • Zoom - Prior to 2020 I had never heard of this platform but it's become a staple in a short time.  Whether it's a meeting with the Green Committee, the Carolinas GCSA Board of Directors, or even a social hour with friends from other parts of the country, its good to see people, even remotely.

At some point during late summer, as limited guest play was reintroduced along with the conducting of club events, things started to feel somewhat more normal.  The temperature cooled in September and the stress level in the Turf Care Center subsided enough for me and members of my team to catch our breath.  Mrs. Greenkeeper and I found some opportunities to play late on weekend afternoons at other facilities within a short commute.  To be honest, things were probably feeling too normal and then there was a bruise, that led to a self exam, that led to a follow up mammogram, that led to a biopsy, that led to where we are today.

Since her diagnosis 39 days ago I've been reflecting inwardly way more frequently and trying my hardest to be thankful for all the stuff I took for granted.  In a year that saw so much taken away from so many, how could I have possibly continued to take life for granted.  I'm so sorry it took my wife's cancer to make me stop and realize every day on this earth is a blessing.  And despite what may appear as tragic, it is only tragic if you allow it to be.  So here are some other, more important things I'm thankful for this year:

  • Golf - I'm thankful that last year's trip to Ireland re-sparked an interest in the game for us both, and although difficult to procure tee times due to the increasing demand brought about by the coronavirus, we managed to make time to be together on the golf course this year and made some wonderful memories!  I look forward to our next round together in 2021 when she is cancer free!
    Thanks For Playing With Me!

  • Professional Golf - I'm thankful the PGA Tour was able to resume in late June and help pave the way for other tours to follow suit.  Without fans the game looks a little different, but we can see more of the course.  In a year that early on seemed destined to be wiped from the record books, we eventually crowned three major champions, and who will ever forget the Masters in November! I thought it was just what the doctor ordered for 2020!
  • Sunrises - October is known as breast cancer awareness month and is symbolized by pink ribbons.  I've been wearing a pink wristband to support my wife and others fighting their battles.  It was downright awe inspiring to see that color dabbled across the sky nearly every morning since her diagnosis.  The things I've witnessed recently long before sunrise have been simply breathtaking and give me strength and hope for a positive outcome!

  • The Turf Industry - The brother and sisterhoods that make up professional turfgrass management is a tight-knit family and the love and support they have provided over the past month since learning about what Darless is facing has been overwhelming!  Cards, flowers, emails, texts and more have my wife telling me I am blessed with amazing friends!  You all are the best and your love and support is helping us both see this through!  Thank You!

  • The Members of Carolina Golf Club - You too have poured much love and support into our home the past month showing Darless how much you genuinely care.  Thank you for stopping me to ask how she's doing! Thank you for the messages, texts, letters, cards, flowers, and emails.  Your support means more to us than anything!  
  • Your Patience - You've been without bunker rakes since March.  The practice tee and clubhouse was closed for more than a month this spring.  And you went without golf carts for more than forty days.  I saw folks walking that I had never witnessed with clubs on their shoulders in fifteen years!  But through it all you continued to play golf.  Whether it was a verbal acknowledgement or a friendly text or email, you took time to express an appreciation for the staff as everyone tried our best to navigate this "new normal".  Thank you for your patience, really!

  • CGC Agronomy - This year saw several new faces come and go.  They endured a reduction in hours as we attempted to mitigate our potential risk of exposure.  We've enacted many changes to their otherwise normal routines as they relate to the daily distribution and sanitation of tools and equipment.  They've spread out and sometimes take lunch on a mower in order to distance themselves from one another.  And somehow, despite all these challenges and obstacles, they managed to produce a product I'm very proud of.  It hasn't been easy this year and I know some of these guys are ready for some much deserved time off, but through it all they managed to help encourage this golf course to be the best it can be each and every day!  Thanks Team!

Of course I'm most thankful for the love and support of my family, along with the support of the Green Committee, Board of Governors and Mr. Cleveland!  Without them none of this possible.  I am honored to be your golf course superintendent and each day at CGC truly is a blessing.  Thank you for providing us with the tools and resources that allow us to improve the golf course each season.  And thank you most for the opportunity to serve you and your guests and I hope each of you have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

See you on the course,

Matthew Wharton, CGCS, MG