Wednesday, November 27, 2013

A Big Surprise, Catching Up, Other News and Many Thanks!

Hello and welcome to "The Greenkeeper"! Today is Wednesday, November 27th and I want to share some important things with you before I wish you and your families a Happy Thanksgiving!  Last time I mentioned you can find me on twitter @CGCGreenkeeper.  In the short time I have been a twitter newbie I have picked up several followers, and I sincerely hope you feel the information you have been receiving is worthwhile.  I will admit I have more industry followers than members currently, but that is okay... I find it useful to see what my peers are doing on their respective courses too.

Early last week I was in Myrtle Beach attending the annual conference and trade show of the Carolinas Golf Course Superintendent's Association (CGCSA).  In attendance with me representing Carolina Golf Club was Senior Assistant, Brett Stowers and Equipment Manager, Kenneth Bailey, Jr.  Brett and I attended several accredited classes and seminars for continuing education and pesticide license renewal requirements.  JR is a member of TETAC (Turf Equipment Technician's Association of the Carolinas) and he attended several classes at their education conference held in conjunction with ours.  Prior to the beginning of the education conference I competed in the annual golf championship, something I have done each year since 2007.  In 2008, I managed to finish T3 (two shots back) but really hadn't managed to make any noise since then until a strange set of events this year.  To find out what happened Click Here for the rest of the story.

In the short time I was away last week, our good friend Mother Nature visited to put the rest of the golf course to sleep.  The frost we experienced back in late October took the color out of the rough but this time, with morning low temperatures in the low 20's, she managed to make things look a little different.

Anyway, despite the dormant appearance of the golf course there was still much work to be done.  I got busy and took advantage of a warmer day to make a scheduled fertilizer application.

Monday, both my staff and the guys from Golf Course Services were trying to accomplish as much as possible knowing yesterday was going to be a rain out (2.8 inches rain recorded by the way).  We painted the target greens and took steps to protect some bermudagrass turf with a history of vulnerability.

Covers on the North-facing Faces!

We also covered a handful of tee boxes on the 6th and 9th holes, so be sure and look for the markers in alternative locations while these areas are protected.

At this time GCS has renovated the bunkers on the following holes: 6, 7, 8, 9, 14, 15 & 17 (save for the large, greenside bunker on the right side of 17).  This totals 36 bunkers in all, meaning we are practically at the half-way point of this project.  We were blessed with some great weather the first three weeks and GCS made incredible progress.  With some wetter weather and holidays, expect things to slow a little but remain ahead of schedule. 

In other news, I am happy to report at last week's meeting the Board of Governors approved funding for the construction of a new back tee on number 13, reconfiguration of the back tees on numbers 14 & 18, and construction of a new 17,000 square feet alternative tee located at the back of the driving range.  All three of these projects will be conducted under the design and supervision of our architect, Kris Spence and Golf Course Services.  These projects will commence once the bunker renovations are completed so more info on these in future updates.

Okay, so tomorrow is Thanksgiving and one cool thing Carolina Golf Club does on Thanksgiving is close the club for the holiday.  This permits all staff members to have the opportunity to spend the holiday with those near and dear to them.  The golf course is accessible for those members wishing to get out of the kitchen and walk a few holes.  As is customary, I will be making a stop by the course to "check on things".  I ride through each year on Thanksgiving morning to make sure nothing is out of place or out of the ordinary.  The past few years the weather has not been an issue and frost has not been a threat, but this year is a little different.  With morning low temperatures tomorrow expected to be near 23 degrees frost is certainly a concern, and I will be hanging around a little longer to make sure nobody inadvertently helps themselves to the course before they should.  I only ask those of you planning a good walk spoiled tomorrow to please use good judgment with regards to how early you arrive!

For years now I have compiled a list of things I am thankful for at Thanksgiving.  The past two years I mentioned how thankful I was for my wife and how she tolerates me at the end of the list...well this year I am listing her number one!  I am thankful for many things in 2013 and they include...
  1. My wife...and more importantly, her love and support through it all!
  2. Our family...a granddaughter's love is the best love!
  3. My faith...many more blessings than deserved!
  4. My grandfather...90 years old, my hero!
  5. Golf...truly is the greatest of all games!
  6. My staff...simply the best in Charlotte!
  7. Carolina Golf Club...your support inspires me!
  8. Friends...both on and off the course!
  9. New golf clubs...getting fitted truly makes a difference!
  10. Being your place I'd rather be!
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

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Tweet Tweet!

Hello and welcome to "The Greenkeeper"! Today is Saturday, November 16th and I wanted to let you know you can now find me on twitter.

Be sure to follow me and stay updated with more frequent news and nuggets from the turf care world of Carolina Golf Club.


Matthew Wharton
Golf Course Superintendent

Friday, November 8, 2013

Congrats, Renovation Update and Busy Beavers!

Hello and welcome to "The Greenkeeper"! Today is Friday, November 8th and I want to quickly bring you up to speed with everything taking place on your golf course.  We just wrapped up a spectacular weekend with some incredible golf in this year's Carolina Invitational (won by our very own Stephen Woodard and Brett Boner).  Their two-day total of 126 (16 under par) may or may not be a tournament record but their second round 64 was definitely one of the best rounds this year given the cool, breezy conditions the field encountered.  The Invitational is always special and this year was no exception with beautiful sunny skies both days.  Check out the scene below I captured just moments after the fog lifted prior to the start of play on day one.

A Beautiful Morning!
The tournament wrapped up late Sunday afternoon and with the time change back to standard time my staff and I jumped head first into "off-season" projects.  Monday saw all the greens at Carolina aerated and topdressed.  Did he really just say that?  To clarify, the putting greens were vented using solid, needle tines and lightly topdressed to help smooth the putting surfaces.  October was a very busy month with the Donald Ross Challenge, Pro-Am, Guest Day and Tough Day all leading into the Carolina Invitational.  During all that time the greens were mowed, double mowed, mowed and rolled, double mowed and rolled, even mowed and double rolled all in effort to provide the absolute best putting surfaces.  We performed the venting operation to alleviate compaction from all the rolling and the topdressing was applied to help smooth the accumulation of ball marks over the course of those events.

Of course Golf Course Services, Inc. (GCS) mobilized and began our bunker renovation project right away.  Taking advantage of a closed golf course this past Monday they were able to work unimpeded on the par 3 ninth hole. 
Old Sand Being Removed
To reiterate, we are removing the existing bunker sand.  This old sand is contaminated with silt and clay soil particles from several years of severe rain events washing the sand away from the bunker cavity.  The contamination changes the playing characteristics of the sand.  The silt and clay particles hold moisture thus making the sand "heavy".  (The old bunker sand is being stock piled on site to be reused as topdressing for tees and fairways).  Once the sand is removed the original bunker cavity dimensions are exposed and grass lines modified accordingly. 

Exposing the original bunker edge
Notice the sand build-up above the clay cavity

New, improved bunker sand is installed.  The newer bunker sand we are installing was not originally available when the golf course was renovated in 2008.  This newer sand is more angular and thus provides both a firmer surface but also holds in place better minimizing severe wash outs which lead to contamination over time.  The new sand is compacted and the bunker then raked and ready for play.
New Sand Being Compacted
If you look closely at the two photos below you can see the new sod that was added to portions of the bunker face to reestablish the grass lines back to the original contours.  Also, the layer of sand build-up has been removed from under the turf and the sod tamped to create a "rolled" edge into the bunker on the low side.
Finished Product!
Raked and Ready for Play!

After all four bunkers on number 9 were completed the crew moved directly to the par 5 eighth hole where they have managed to completely renovate 5 of the 7 bunkers on that hole and they are working on one of the two remaining this morning.  That's 10 bunkers in one week thanks to some very cooperative weather!  There are 79 total bunkers on property (77 on the golf course and two practice bunkers).  This project will be continuing over the next couple months as we make our way through the entire golf course (minus of course, the bunkers renovated in the same manner this time last year).

A few other projects we are busy working on include trimming low hanging limbs and branches on three key holes.  Holes 8, 13 and 14 are located on the perimeter of the club's property and many limbs and branches from our pine tree buffer were too low and adversely affecting our ability to grow and maintain quality turf.  We have been busy working along these holes lifting the tree canopies to allow better sunlight penetration.
Not for the Faint of Heart
Also, we have installed additional stone "curbing" alongside the cart path where some people have a propensity to drive NASCAR style (through the grass) on the inside edge of turns.  These areas will fill in with new turf next season and add to the overall aesthetic quality of the golf course.

Number 8
Number 10

Since we are on the subject of cart paths, this time every year we edge the cart paths to remove unwanted bermudagrass encroachment.  The process is lengthy because we have several miles of cart path but this is a perfect time of year for such a project.

Removing the Debris
A Clean Edge!

Another task we are working on right now is applying compost to high traffic and weak turf areas.  Currently we are concentrating only on the roughs so as not to adversely affect the playing conditions of fairways since the bermudgrass has ceased growing for the year as it enters winter dormancy.  The compost will break down and help modify the soil in these areas to better sustain quality turf.

Fully Loaded!
Always Improving!

So, to recap...congrats to Stephen and Brett, greens recently aerated and topdressed, bunkers being renovated, trees limbs being trimmed, cart paths being edged and curbed, compost being applied...wonder what we are going to do next week!

See you on the course,

Matthew Wharton
Golf Course Superintendent