Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Bob Ross, George Clooney, GCS Returns and Many Thanks!

Hello and welcome to "The Greenkeeper"!  Today is Wednesday, November 21, 2012 and tomorrow is Thanksgiving (my favorite holiday of the year) and I have much to be thankful for that I will share with you in a moment, but first I do have a few items I need to address.
When I was in college there was no better way to take an afternoon nap than turning the television to PBS and watching Bob Ross paint!  Within about 10 to 15 minutes Bob's voice (he would have made a great golf announcer) would have you "sawing logs".  Anyway, this past Monday we painted the target greens on the driving range.  This is the third consecutive winter season we have done so and this year I decided (at least for now) to experiment and expand to the golf course.  We painted the teeing surfaces of all four par 3 holes.  The paint is merely aesthetic and a viable alternative to overseeding (most all bermudagrass putting surfaces are painted now).  Give me some feedback and let either me or members of the Greens Committee know what you think...who knows where this may lead?
Painted Tee Surface #16
Unpainted Tee Surface #8
Some of you may know I have a dear friend in Australia who is also a golf course superintendent, David Warwick of Avondale Golf Club in Pymble (just north of Sydney).  David and I met many years ago at the national education conference and trade show of the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America (GCSAA) and have kept in touch ever since.  I like to refer to David as my "Big Brother Down Under" and he has been a valuable friend and supporter through the years.  Anyway, back on March 23rd in an update titled "Colonel Kilgore, Bunkers and Pitch Marks!" I shared a course care video of his on ball mark repair, or pitch mark as they say down under, and I promised I would share something else.  I apologize for taking so long but I wanted to share this course care video about divots.  This time of year we transition from green sand to white as the course begins its hibernation period (merely aesthetic) and it got me to thinking, although the course is going dormant and we will not be mowing for several months doesn't mean we should take the task of properly filling divots lightly.  Also, David skyped me this past Saturday evening so he is fresh in my mind.  Ladies, he fashions himself to be another George Clooney but I will let you be the judge.
Beginning Monday (November 26th), Golf Course Services, Inc. will once again be on site as we begin a small, off-season project to refurbish some bunkers in need of renovation.  Old sand will be removed and replaced with new in the same fashion we renovated both the practice bunker and right, greenside bunker on hole two earlier this year.  GCS will begin with the left, greenside bunker on number 4 (APPLAUSE) and we will be targeting several others in need.  At this time, the golf shop, GCS and I have not worked out the logistics of how we will handle play with their staff working in greenside bunkers but I wanted to at least give you the heads up well in advance.  There are approximately a dozen bunkers slated for renovation and the GCS crew will be on site for several weeks.
As I stated earlier, tomorrow is Thanksgiving and I hope you will spend the day with family and friends.  For those of you planning on a relaxing round of golf at Carolina please remember we are closed tomorrow with no staff on site and golf is walking only.  Of course Solomon (turned 2 years old yesterday) and I will venture out to check the course and make sure nothing is missing, damaged, broken, etc.  The current forecast is calling for morning low temperatures near 36 or 37 degrees around 6:00 am.  We could potentially have frost with these temperatures and it is important not to walk on the putting surfaces if there is frost!  Please use caution and good judgement when enjoying the solitude of the course tomorrow!
As promised, I am thankful for many things this year and they include...

  1. my faith!
  2. my loyal companion, Solomon! 
  3. the great game of golf!
  4. being the superintendent of the greatest golf course in all of Charlotte!
  5. the hardest working golf course maintenance staff in North Carolina!
  6. the support of Carolina Golf Club! 
  7. the friendships and relationships I have developed with many of you at Carolina!
  8. seeing the sun rise over this beautiful golf course almost everyday!
  9. for Jeff Peck and his helpful advice with my finicky golf game!
  10. that the 2012 football season is almost over!
At this point last year I expressed deep, heartfelt thanks to my wife and family! I stated something along the lines of her tolerating me and my idiosyncrasies (a man who works all the time, complains about the weather and stresses over his college football team) and how she deserves a medal for doing so!  Well, this year is no different and I am just thankful me and the dog are both allowed in the house :)

To all the members of Carolina Golf Club I want to wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving!

See you on the course,

Matthew Wharton
Golf Course Superintendent

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

That Time of Year Again!

Hello and welcome to "The Greenkeeper"! Today is Tuesday, November 6, 2012 and as the country heads to the polls to decide our next president my staff and I are busy with the beginning of some "off season" projects and other maintenance.  The Carolina Invitational wrapped up early Sunday evening as another historic success and your golf course received nothing but rave reviews from all the participants.  I will spare you the details and results as I am sure you will be receiving a full detailed description of the event in the near future and I do not want to steal the spotlight, but I can say you missed a great tournament if you were not able to attend.

Of course with the Carolina Invitational each year comes the change from daylight savings time back to standard time.  Although we have one more tournament yet to prepare for this season (The Hazel), the time change ceremonially signifies the end of the golf season for the year and my staff and I transition into winter project season.  One other important item the time change signifies here at Carolina Golf Club is the closing of the bermudagrass range tee for the season.  Per our standard operating policy the artificial teeing area will be used indefinitely as we give the bermudagrass tee some much needed time off in order to preserve and protect it for use next season.  A friendly reminder the artificial teeing surfaces hold a golf tee and thus the need to "cheat" in front is not necessary (this behavior also damages the bermudagrass turf due to the inordinate amount of foot traffic concentrated in such a small space over the winter months).

Artificial Teeing Areas

Earlier I mentioned some "off season" projects and we wasted little time getting started today.  The vegetation growing along the creek bank crossing the 11th and 13th holes was cut back.  These plants are required as part of our wetlands mitigation in exchange for the creation of the damn and irrigation lake.  It is the desire of the Greens Committee to maintain them as small as feasibly possible while simultaneously appearing natural.  This has been a challenge due to the growth habit of these willows and birches thus we are cutting them back in order to get a fresh start.


The willows are being cut back to only 6 to 8 inches of trunk and we will attempt to limit the new growth next year from getting bigger than desired.  The birch trees are being topped at approximately 5 to 7 feet in an effort to limit their size development and prevent them from overtaking the tee shot from the 13th tee.  Upon completion in this area we will repeat the process along the creek crossing the 4th and 17th holes.

Work in the natural/native areas is still ongoing as we continue to spread seed, compost and starter fertilizer to areas targeted for improvement.  We are irrigating and using portable sprinklers in an effort to achieve germination and establishment.  Although we have seen some moderate success the current weather pattern is extremely challenging.  We wrapped up the month of October with less than 1.25 inches total rain (1.23") and we have received only 0.17" in the past three weeks!  Add these dry conditions to the cold temperatures we are experiencing and you have a recipe for delayed response when attempting to germinate seed and establish new growth.  Despite these conditions I am optimistic our efforts will yield the desired results and our natural/native areas will impress next season.

In the coming weeks you will see the staff begin our annual edging of the cart path network.  We will again soon be planting trees approved from our Master Tree Planting Plan this fall/winter.  I am also planning to utilize our seasonal staff's remaining time (about 31/2 weeks) to initiate a major thinning and removal of underbrush growing along the 1st, 8th and 11th holes.  This will aid tremendously in both the overall look and cleanliness of these golf holes but also improve air circulation.  These are just some of the improvements you can expect to see on the course this "off season". 

See you on the course,

Matthew Wharton
Golf Course Superintendent

Friday, November 2, 2012

You're Invited!

Hello and welcome to "The Greenkeeper"! Today is Friday, November 2, 2012 and the Carolina Invitational begins tomorrow morning!  Now, perhaps you may be asking yourself what is the Carolina Invitational or perhaps you don't fully know and/or understand what the Carolina Invitational is.  If so, then you probably do not know why I am happy it is here so let me see if I can help you better understand the nature of this event and its significance.

Invitational Flag

Before I do I want to share with you a conversation I had earlier this morning with two of our members as they enjoyed their round.  I was asked about the Invitational by one of our members as he told me a story about playing golf this August at Scioto C.C. in Columbus, Ohio.  While there he met a Scioto member who recognized Carolina Golf Club and stated he was planning on being here in November for the Invitational.  Our member was a bit taken by surprise of this occurrence and his story got me to thinking...why is it many of our own members do not know about the Carolina Invitational or it's reputation while there are those outside our gates even hundreds of miles away who do?  Sidenote: Scioto C.C. was founded in 1916 and designed by Donald Ross.  It was the home course where a young Jack Nicklaus learned and mastered the game. 

The inaugural Carolina Invitational was held in 1999 and the tournament has been contested every year since with the exception of 2008 when the club reopened after being closed for 11 months to undergo renovation and reconstruction.  The format consists of two-man teams playing better ball (four-ball) for 36 holes.  The field is all amateurs by invitation only from around the region and beyond.  Carolina has hosted participants through the years from as far north as Massachusetts, west to Texas and south to Florida (this year's field includes participants from Connecticut, Ohio, Virginia and Georgia as well as North and South Carolina).  Previous entries have participated in the Masters, U.S. Opens, U.S. Amateurs and U.S. Mid-Amateurs.  Many have been state amateur champions from North Carolina, Georgia and Florida. 

The Carolina Invitational

The point of this story is this event belongs to Carolina.  This is the club's tournament and not the property of the Carolinas Golf Association, PGA or any other sanctioning body but rather Carolina Golf Club.  Carolina Golf Club invites the participants and sets the field.  The goal is to get the best amateur players from around the region to compete for the title of Carolina Invitational Champion.  Many who have participated in the past have loved the event for its first class field and first class treatment but ultimately they love this tournament for the first class Donald Ross golf course!  It is my privilege and honor to maintain this golf course for you everyday but it is always nice to have the opportunity to showoff your course on your behalf to those who truly appreciate this grand game and its finest courses.   The Carolina Invitational is special and I invite you to come out this weekend and spectate.  You will see not only some great golf but you will also see some wonderful appreciation and gratitude from some special golfers.

See you on the course,

Matthew Wharton
Golf Course Superintendent