Thursday, September 27, 2012

Loss of Dignity, Failed to Mention and New Drainage!

Hello and welcome to "The Greenkeeper"! Today is Thursday, September 27, 2012 and I want to show you some of the drainage Golf Course Services, Inc. has been installing the past couple of days.  However, before I do I feel it is necessary to recognize those competitors this past weekend who felt the 2012 Club Championship was a bloodbath and henceforth will be known as "The Club Championship from Hell".  I apologize if the challenging setup removed some of the fun for you in this year's event!  Keep in mind as I stated here two days ago, the date on the calendar along with the weather and our preparations led to a culmination with the golf course providing one of the sternest tests of golf in years.  Perhaps I allowed my enthusiasm for the course conditions to get the better of me and cloud my judgement at times but know I was merely trying to showcase what our wonderfully restored Donald Ross design is capable of when given the proper chance.  It's at times like these I like to borrow a quote from the United States Golf Association and modify it to fit Carolina, "I am not trying to embarrass the best golfers in the club, I am merely trying to identify them."  Having said that I promise to file 2012 away in the memory bank and strive for a stern but fair test of golf in 2013 while yielding more opportunities for lower scoring! 

Now back to fun soon as the aerated greens heal :(

The other day when blogging about the aeration of the putting surfaces I failed to mention something which hadn't happened here in quite some time but unfortunately happened as we were ready to embark on our mission Monday morning.  If you check the July archives of The Greenkeeper you will see on July 16th I posted "Fairway Aeration Cancelled, Goldilocks and Other Stuff!"  If you scroll down to the "Other Stuff" section I talk about the frustrations this year with staff desertions/defections.  At that time we had endured 5 desertions/defections this season and after that post things settled down quite nicely.  The replacements we received fit in quite well and two months past with no issues... and no warnings.  Unfortunately, I was met Monday morning with the announcement three guys went AWOL Sunday evening!  The timing of their decision would not have been good at any time, but on the first day of putting green aeration I cannot repeat the words uttered that day.  I must offer up a big kudos to those members of my staff that pressed on!  We managed to make it work after two very long days!

Now back to drainage!

Golf Course Services, Inc. has wrapped up installing the additional fairway drainage on number 8 and have now started working on number 7.  Here are some photos detailing the project thus far:

Trenching Across Fairway

Pipe, Gravel and Sand

Gonzalo Checks The New Catch Basin

Compacting the Trench

Putting the Turf Back in Place


Here is the first look of the work currently going on at number 7:

Removing the Turf and Trenching

View From Other Side

I will post more photos next week.  Until then...

See you on the course,

Matthew Wharton
Golf Course Superintendent

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Congratulations, Weather Tidbits, Aeration and Golf Course Services!

Hello and welcome to "The Greenkeeper"! Today is Tuesday, September 25, 2012 and we have just wrapped up putting green aeration for this year!  More on that later, first I want to congratulate Reid Waller for winning the 2012 Club Championship!  Reid birdied the final hole to secure a one stroke victory over Brett Boner in a final round filled with some riveting see-saw action between the two competitors.  The tournament, moved this year from Labor Day weekend to this past weekend (along with a perfectly timed cold front), afforded me an opportunity to provide some of the most demanding and challenging conditions to date since the course reopened.  Preparations for this event started back in late August with well timed fertility treatments to the putting surfaces.  As the days continued to shorten and the nighttime temperatures became more and more favorable for the growth of bentgrass roots, mowing heights were gradually lowered.  Members playing the course over the past three weeks should have noticed a progression as the greens became smoother and smoother as well as faster.  The entire procedure was timed to peak September 21-23 and I am so pleased with the response from the putting surfaces as they produced perfectly challenging conditions...take that Tour Championship!  At this time, I would be remiss if I didn't also offer a heartfelt congratulations to Marsha Gaspari on her victory in the 2012 Ladies Club Championship!  Marsha's victory came on the first hole of sudden death after her and Joanie Mashburn were tied after 36 holes.

I complimented Mother Nature earlier as she gets a very big assist with the conditions of the golf course during the Club Championship (cooler temperatures and lower humidity equals faster putting greens).  There were two interesting articles in the Charlotte Observer this past Saturday.  Bruce Henderson's article on zoysiagrass lawns becoming more popular ("Lawns Taking a Less Thirsty Path to Green") made reference to this past July as being the 3rd hottest on record (dating back to 1895).  Also, Steve Lyttle's piece "Wet Autumn in the Offing" noted this past July was the hottest in nearly 20 years and the Climate Prediction Center is predicting temperatures and precipitation to be above normal over the next three months.  Considering we are already at 4.88 inches rain for the month maybe they are on to something...guess we will just have to wait and see!

I guess at this point you have heard enough about the weather and you want to know what I did to the greens yesterday and today and when your golfing conditions will be back to normal.  The fall aeration of our putting surfaces is the same as spring. In other words we are more aggressive with a larger tine size (equates to a larger hole) and we topdress very heavily (more sand). 

Looks a little something like this!
The June aeration with its smaller tines and no topdressing is merely a bridge between the two major aerations where we impact a greater percentage of the surface area in an effort to remove unwanted thatch and make room for new roots to grow and develop.  I was asked prior to the final round of the club championship by one of the competitors what would happen if I didn't aerate the greens and I answered simply they would die.  I know that may sound extreme but you can reference the March 17th blog entry "Rabbit Season, Green Acres, Old Dogs and Robert Duvall" for a refresher on why aeration is so vital to the long term health and sustainability of bentgrass putting greens.  The greens will take a week or two to heal but the weather is ideal for bentgrass growth right now so I don't believe it will take too long.  I have annually aerated on the 3rd or 4th Monday of March and September so now is the time to take your buddy up on that offer for a guest round at his place if they were one of the courses to aerate a little earlier.  We all aerate at roughly the same time of year but different weeks work best for each course depending on a number of factors including but not limited to tournament schedules, outings, and etc.  I personally prefer later in September because bentgrass roots die in July and August due to the extreme stress of high soil temperatures.  By the end of August and into early September the roots of the plant are very short and the mechanical stress imposed from aeration is not to be taken lightly.  By giving our putting greens a few extra weeks to regrow some roots I firmly believe they tolerate the process better and heal more quickly annually providing the best putting surfaces in town every October and November!

I mentioned last time Golf Course Services, Inc. would be on site during this time to install some additional subsurface drainage on a few holes (2, 6, 7, 8 and 10).  I am happy to report the crew began work yesterday on the 8th hole and work continues there today.

Golf Course Services, Inc.
Trenching in drain along cart path #8

They will be working at Carolina for a couple of weeks or more depending on the weather, etc.  In an effort to accommodate the important work they are performing for us, starting tomorrow we will be shortening the golf hole where they are currently working.  Their plan is to work on only one hole at a time until complete.  In an effort to prohibit holding up their progress and more importantly placing them in potential harms way, my staff will relocate all tee markers (green, white, blue and black) to the fairway beyond the area where they are working.  You will still be able to play the hole it will just play shorter for a day.  Thank you in advance for your cooperation and I plan to post more pictures and updates to the blog showcasing their work so please check back!

Until next time...

See you on the course,

Matthew Wharton
Golf Course Superintendent

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Weather Update, You Won't Believe This and Coming Up Next!

Hello and welcome to "The Greenkeeper"!  Today is Thursday, September 6, 2012 and football season is finally here!  Why would I be so excited about football season you ask...because football season brings football weather... and football weather brings the absolute best conditions to our bentgrass putting surfaces!  Speaking of weather, the past two weeks Mother Nature has reminded us summer isn't officially over with high humidity levels and afternoon thunderstorms.  Labor Day weekend felt more like the 4th of July but I have seen the extended forecast and heavenly conditions are just around the corner.  In my last post on August 22nd I stated the rainfall for that month was 6.71 inches and that's exactly how we finished as we received no additional rain between August 21st through September 1st.  So far this month we have received two plus inches (2.24) dating back to an afternoon shower which briefly interrupted play during the second round of last weekend's Senior Club Championship on September 2nd and continuing up through this past Tuesday evening when we received 1.5" (the bulk of our total thus far).

Congratulations to Paul Spadafora, Senior Champion Golfer of the Year!!
In other news, yesterday morning we were greeted with the remnants of some late night vandalism.  Now, before you go jumping to conclusions the vandal or vandals were not neighborhood juvenile delinquents but rather the nocturnal, four-legged variety!  While in route to the driving range tee to begin set up for the day I received a call from the greens mower operator on the 3rd green bringing to my attention this...
Hole Dug in Front Middle of 3rd Green!
Upon closer inspection I found the paw prints in the nearby left bunker confirming my suspicion of Coyote(s) and the damage upon closer inspection appeared as follows...
Coyote Damage (Closer View)
I have been working in this business for over 20 years and I have seen many things but this was the first time I have witnessed physical damage to a putting surface of this magnitude caused by an animal.  Fortunately we have the resources to repair damage such as this and about 30 minutes and 11 hexagonal plugs from our nursery green later the area looked like this...
Not Too Shabby!
Moving on, as I stated earlier cooler, dryer weather is just around the corner and we have one club championship in the books and two more on the horizon.  The ladies are up next on the 15th and 16th and the men will determine their 2012 champion the following weekend over 54 holes contested the 21st through 23rd.  Of course there is Guest Day on the 14th and you can expect my staff and I to do everything possible to have the course looking and playing its best!  I am excited about the condition of the playing surfaces thus far as we transition from summer conditions to fall and expect great things for all the upcoming events!
Remember the course will be closed for TWO days (Sep 24th and 25th) to aerate the putting greens following the Men's Club Championship as we prepare the greens for even better conditions for the slate of events in October and November.  Also, Golf Course Services, Inc. will be on site at that time to begin installing additional subsurface drainage to key areas on the 2nd, 6th, 7th, 8th and 10th holes.  I will be taking pictures and posting their work to the blog quite a bit during that time so stay tuned.  Until next time...
See you on the course,
Matthew Wharton
Golf Course Superintendent