Thursday, December 20, 2012

Mayan Apocalypse...Just in Case!

Hello and welcome to "The Greenkeeper"!  Today is Thursday, December 20, 2012 and I have a couple of things to share with you before the Mayan apocalypse tomorrow (more on that later).  Last time I mentioned how the Charlotte area is in moderate drought.  We did receive just over a half-inch rain this past Sunday evening (0.56") which was most helpful and greatly needed but overall it was not near enough as our current drought status was upgraded from moderate to severe as the monitor below indicates:

Mecklenburg County in Severe Drought

Moderate Drought Two Weeks Ago

Ironically, I was researching my blog post from this time last year and discovered quite a different tune with regards to the weather and more specifically, rainfall:

Hello and welcome to "The Greenkeeper"! Today is Wednesday, December 21, 2011 ... it seems enough rain has moved into the region to fuel rumors of a Milli Vanilli reunion. A trace of rain fell late yesterday evening and this morning it started raining while I was in route to the club. A quick glance at the radar indicated today was going to be a washout and the forecast for the next several days all show... rain! In fact at the time of this writing over an inch of rain has already fallen. As our good friend Charlie Brown would say..."Good Grief"!

Needless to say that is not the case this year and our drought status may not even matter after tomorrow morning.  Tomorrow morning at precisely 7:11 am marks the arrival of the winter solstice and the beginning of winter.  It will also mark the precise end to the 13th Baktun of the Mayan long count calendar and some experts predict there may be a cataclysmic catastrophe caused by gravitational forces due to the perfect alignment of the earth, sun and the dark rift in our galaxy.  This morning the First Warn Weather Team updated their forecast for tomorrow and Saturday...just in case:

Meteor Showers on Friday!

Now, I have spent some time researching the Mayans, their calendar and these apocalyptic predictions.  Thanks to the History Channel, H2, Discovery Channel, The Learning Channel, Nat Geo and the internet I believe everything is going to be ok.  This rare video I discovered and shared below shows a group of scientists explaining how the earth will be spared of these predicted catastrophes:

In the event these scientists fail in their efforts it has been a pleasure knowing and working for each of you on this fabulous Donald Ross golf course!  In the event the world is spared I want to wish everyone at Carolina Golf Club a Merry Christmas or Happy Hanukkah or Happy Kwanza or Happy Festivus (gratuitous Seinfeld reference)!  Whatever your beliefs and celebrations just know my family and I really wish you and your families a very happy and joyous time this holiday season.  Good Lord willing we are off to see our families for a few days and will be back soon but until then I want to wish each of you again a joyous Happy Holidays!! 

See you on the course...

Fingers crossed!

Matthew Wharton
Golf Course Superintendent

Friday, December 7, 2012

Labor Surge, Bunkers, Trees and Drought!

Hello and welcome to "The Greenkeeper"! Today is Friday, December 7, 2012.  On this 71st anniversary of the attack at Pearl Harbor I want to take a moment to thank all those members of Carolina Golf Club (past and present) for their service to this country!  Without the sacrifice of you and so many others I would not have this opportunity and I am forever grateful!  Also, only 17 more shopping days till Christmas so why not check out the Golf Shop at Carolina tonight from 5:00 till 9:00 pm for their annual balloon sale!
Some of you may recall earlier this year I lamented about the number and timing of defections from some of our seasonal staff.  At the end of October I managed to get two young lads originally dispatched to Muirfield Village Golf Club outside Columbus, Ohio and a week later four young men originally dispatched to Allegheny Country Club outside Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  These six joined the three remaining members of my seasonal staff to form a "labor surge" that carried us through last week (Sunday, December 2nd was their last day).  During the "surge" we were able to accomplish many tasks but one important project I want to highlight is the removal and thinning of underbrush growing in the wooded areas adjacent to the first, eighth, eleventh and thirteenth holes.  Prior to the onset of this project your eye would stop at the edge of the woods as if looking at a wall.  Now your eye continues to see beyond the wooded edge into the forest canopy providing a cleaner look to the property and easier to find golf balls!

Piled for Chipping!
Chipping Debris!

Last blog post I mentioned Golf Course Services, Inc. would be returning to renovate a handful of greenside bunkers.  The old sand was removed and the original bunker cavity inspected for any potential issues.  Areas where grass lines had migrated were restored back to original and new sand installed, compacted and smoothed to perfection. 
Greenside Bunker #4
Greenside Bunker #4 Restored
I am happy to report all scheduled work for now is complete (I know, that was fast) and here is the list of improved bunkers: Hole number 1 (left and right greensides), Hole number 2 (left greenside), Hole number 4 (left greenside), Hole number 10 (left, right and back greensides), Hole number 11 (left, right and front greensides) and Hole number 17 (left greenside).  For those of you counting at home that is a total of 11 bunkers.  Keep in mind the right greenside bunker on Hole number 2 was renovated this summer along with the practice bunker.  Try them out and let me know what you think.  I am hopeful we will do more before the end of next year.
I recently traveled to Liberty, NC and the home of Gilmore Plant & Bulb, Inc. to select more oak trees to be planted on the course.  These plantings were approved by the Greens Committee and are in keeping with the Master Tree Plan created by our architect, Kris Spence.  The trees began arriving Wednesday morning and yesterday my staff wasted little time getting started.
A New Red Oak on Number 1
There will be a total of 18 trees planted on the golf course and I know that sounds like more than a few but eight of those are to be planted to the right of Hole number ten near the lake.  Four others are to be planted in the natural/native areas between the first and second holes, three trees will be planted between the fourth and seventeenth putting greens (cart path enclosed triangle area) and one across the cart path above the sixteenth tee.  In other words, the large majority of these trees are being planted in mostly out-of-play areas as enhancements to the overall landscape with minimal impact on direct play.  There are two oak trees going in on the left side of Hole number one near the existing cluster of three large trees guarding the left side of the fairway.  These two new oaks are to serve as replacements to be enjoyed by future generations of Carolina golfers.  
For those of you not paying attention lately we need rain.  After a wet finish to summer with July, August and September combining for nearly 20 inches rain we have received only 1.87 inches rain in October and November combined!  In fact the monthly total of 0.64" in November, 2012 is the lowest total of any month since I have been the superintendent at Carolina eclipsing the previous low of 0.69" in November, 2007.  Earlier this week our area was classified to be in moderate drought.
Drought Monitor Index
This is also the first time since the renovation and reconstruction of the golf course in 2008 our irrigation lake is below capacity (full pond) during the fall/winter months.  The two images below were taken earlier this morning and are a reflection of the lack of adequate rainfall during the past two months combined with the need to still irrigate (albeit less than during the summer growing season).
Exposed Pond Bank
Bottom of Debris Guard Exposed
Now, I am not trying to be alarming but I will say from my decades of experience the worst droughts have historically followed extremely dry winter periods.  I will continue to monitor the situation as technically the first day of winter is still two weeks away and there is plenty of time for this dry period to subside but I want everyone to understand a good soaking rain is long overdue at Carolina Golf Club.
See you on the course,
Matthew Wharton
Golf Course Superintendent