Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Qualifiers, Different Opinions and Driving Range Tee!

Hello and welcome to "The Greenkeeper"!  Today is Tuesday, May 1, 2012 and we finally completed the Wells Fargo Qualifying Tournament earlier this morning.  That's right, we had to return to the course this morning to resume the playoff for the final qualifying spot as we ran out of daylight yesterday evening before the playoff could be completed.  Ten individuals carded 66's and played off for the final two qualifying spots (a 64 and a 65 had secured the other two available qualifying positions).  After five extra holes (10, 18, 10, 18 and 10) we had identified one other qualifier and were left with three individuals vying for the final spot.  Play resumed on 18 this morning at 7:30 am and after one birdie and two pars the 2012 version of the qualifying event was in the books!

After hosting this tournament for three consecutive years I thought now would be a perfect time to express some observations plus answer some questions I seem to receive each year.  I want to start by saying I do not choose the hole locations for either the pre-qualifying or qualifying tournaments.  Neither does Jeff (Jeff Peck, Head Golf Professional).  The PGA Tour through the cooperation of the PGA Carolinas Section conducts the tournaments using our course and facilities.  Cory Armstrong, Tournament Director, PGA Carolinas Section and his staff communicate with Jeff and I usually the week prior and then arrive on Tuesday prior to the pre-qualifying tournament to begin marking hazards and out-of-bounds for the tournament.  You may wonder why they do this when the course is already marked for competition.  The PGA marks the course as to how it best suits their needs for the event!  This means they may take a hazard normally marked yellow and change it to red or install temporary out-of-bounds markers between the first and second holes to eliminate the possibility of any competitor playing the first hole by way of the second.  On Wednesday they choose their hole locations and supply me with a hole location sheet.  On the morning of the event, one of the PGA staff members travels with the member of my staff responsible for the task of cutting the new hole placement and the PGA staff member observes to ensure the hole is located in the proper place.  The PGA staff member also positions the tee markers in the locations they desire and marks them with paint in case a marker should become accidentally moved or dislodged during the course of play.

Cory and his staff have been great to work with the past three years and yes, they do consult with me regarding potential hole locations, tee placements, etc. but at the end of the day it is their responsibility to make the decisions.  It has been interesting to observe the changes they make regarding the hazards each year and the difference in philosophy among the PGA Tour versus governing bodies such as the USGA or the Carolinas Golf Association (CGA).  It is my opinion based on my observations and questions the past three years governing bodies view hazards from a more formal point of view and the tour uses a somewhat "watered down" approach.  By this I mean the tour takes all possible scenarios into play (e.g., a player hits a shot into a hazard guarding hole A from a position while playing hole B...) and thus concludes the easiest solution to all possible scenarios is to make the hazard red as opposed to leaving it marked yellow.  It is also my observation many of you have failed to notice these changes the past three years thus you are all accomplished players who never hit into the hazards or you are not paying attention to the hazards and their respective markings while playing.  Either way, now you know and if anyone is interested in a more technical answer I will be happy to explain it on site sometime...just flag me down and wave me over and I will share my knowledge with you and your friends!

Getting back to setting up the course, the responsibilities of my staff and I are to prepare the course for each day of competitive play.  We mow and roll the greens late the evening before along with mowing tees, fairways and approaches.  The morning of the events, we mow the greens, rake the bunkers and remove the dew if necessary from the tee boxes and fairways along with cutting the hole locations and painting the lips of the cups for greater visibility.  We put in many hours working hard to ensure your course is presented in its best possible fashion.  It is something we really enjoy and our "little taste of the big time" certainly changes up the routine in our world.

In other news, you may or may not have seen the email yesterday regarding the current state of the driving range tee and our plans for action.  For those of you that didn't receive the message we closed the tee this morning and aerated with our smallest aerator and filled all divots.  All the artificial teeing squares were removed from their stations and the turf rotated 180 degrees then reinstalled (this was done to help even the wear on the surface from this season's use).  Tomorrow the tee will be fertilized and watered prior to the arrival of players (minor postponement due to the playoff this morning) and we will continue to use the artificial teeing locations at least through Thursday.  I will reevaluate the tee's condition Friday morning and decide whether or not to reopen the turf at that time.  It is important to understand the warm March (80 degree days and 60 degree nights) brought our bermudagrass turf out of dormancy earlier than ever this year but April's cold spells (30 degree nights) with many days in the 60's stunted the bermudagrass turf from growing.  Remember, bermudagrass is a warm-season grass and there is a difference between greening up and actually growing.  Right now, the turf may be green in color but it has not been growing substantially enough for the divot patterns on the tee to fully recover in a timely fashion.

I hope this information helps you have a better understanding of how the PGA conducts the qualifying tournaments at Carolina Golf Club and how the driving range tee is going to be pretty darn good in just a few days.  The Greens Committee will be meeting Wednesday, May 9th.  If you have any comments, questions or concerns feel free to contact Stephen Woodard (Committee Chairman) at his email SWoodard@mpvre.com or myself.   We encourage and welcome the feedback.

See you on the course,

Matthew Wharton
Golf Course Superintendent

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