Friday, August 22, 2014

Three Things You Can Do!

Hello and welcome to "The Greenkeeper"!  Today is Friday, August 22nd and I would like to share something with you I hope you find helpful.  Many of you know Robert Smith, but in case you do not allow me to introduce him to you.  
Robert Smith

Robert has been a member of Carolina Golf Club for the past 18 years.  He is currently a freshman member of the Board of Governors elected at the Annual Meeting earlier this year.  Robert has previously served on both the Golf and House Committees prior to his recent election to the board, and he is currently serving on the Golf Committee again.  Recently Robert was asked to join the Greens Committee by chairman Stephen Woodard to fill a void created by the departure of member Alex Yates (Alex and his wife relocated to Nashville).  Since joining the committee a month ago, Robert has found himself looking at things differently and recently we shared the following conversation:

Robert:  "Matthew, I find myself paying more attention to the course now than ever before and I have been telling guys I regularly play with to do things like watch where they park and where they walk on and off the putting greens."

Me:  "That's great!  It is always nice when members take the time to notice the little things that can make a big difference."

Robert:  "I also noticed all the new sod you and your staff installed, and I started thinking, what are some things we as members can do to help you and your staff better care for the golf course?"

Me:  "Robert, that is a great question!  Why don't you let me address that in the next Greenkeeper!"

Robert:  "I think that is a great idea!"

Of course I had a list of things to share with you, but I thought I would give my peers a chance to weigh in on the subject as well.  Yesterday I solicited their help with the following:

Well, I guess everyone must have been busy tending to their own golf courses so I am flying solo here.  When it comes to the things members can do to help us better care for Carolina Golf Club here are some ideas.  This list also applies to any person playing golf on any course around the world.  Many of these you have probably seen or heard before, as they are simply parts of basic course etiquette, but a refresher never hurts.

  • Treat the golf course with respect.
    • A golf course is a living, breathing thing and if you treat her kindly she will be kind to you.  Repair your ball marks on the putting surfaces, smooth and rake your footprints from the sand bunkers, and fill/replace your divots on tees and in fairways.
  • Observe and follow posted rules and guidelines.
    • This mostly refers to the operation of golf cars.  Do not operate golf cars in areas where they are not permitted (e.g., natural/native areas, rough).  Do not drive too closely around putting greens and tees.  Remain only on the paved paths when not permitted on the playing surfaces.  Whenever possible avoid travelling through high traffic zones and low-lying or wet areas.  When parking make sure to keep all 4 tires on the paths.
  • Understand that if stakes and ropes are present, they are there to prevent you from potentially damaging a sensitive area.
    • Vary your normal route and go around stakes and ropes, do not step over or on them.
I could list more, but if you only do those three things you will begin to develop a greater sense of awareness.  You will learn to recognize how common behavior and traffic patterns affect the quality of the playing surfaces at your course.  The answer to Robert's question is really simple, learn how your behavior impacts the playing surfaces on your golf course, then alter your behavior to where your impact is only a positive one!

See you on the course,

Matthew Wharton, CGCS

Friday, August 1, 2014

Course Update, Thick Rough, and The Ice Bucket Challenge!

Hello and welcome to "The Greenkeeper"!  Today is Friday, August 1st and it is pouring rain.  It has been raining through most of the night and all morning, saturating the golf course, delaying operations, and creating unplayable conditions.  I hope to have the golf course back open for play soon after the rain moves through the region.  Since we are on the subject of rain, we wrapped up July with 7.09 inches rain.  Yes, I said over seven inches for the month of July (last night's rain total is still accumulating and thus will be recorded in August).  Golf Course Industry is a magazine serving my profession, and last night they tweeted the following:
After seeing several responses from all across the country come in describing a myriad of conditions (cool and dry, hot and dry, very busy, etc., etc.) I decided to respond with the following:
This has been one of the all time strangest summers I can ever remember.  It is not uncommon to have a significant dip in the jet stream bring cool, comfortable, less humid air at least once during a typical hot, humid Carolina summer, but we had three such occurrences in the last month!  July really was a roller coaster as temperatures would climb into the 90's with humid conditions, only to receive heavy rain ahead of a cold front that would bring almost fall like conditions.  Each effect was always short lived too, making for somewhat confusing growing conditions for the greens.  Of course, the bermudagrass has been soaking up the rain like a sponge and the course seems to get greener by the minute.  The overall contrast and definition between tees, fairways, and rough has never been better since our restoration, but believe me when I tell you I am not loving all this rain.

Earlier this week I met with Stephen Woodard, Greens Committee Chairman to discuss the golf course, conditions, topics for our next committee meeting, and etc.  I told Stephen when your irrigation lake is full on the last day of July it can only mean summer has been too wet thus far.  Now, why would I complain about such an abundance of rainfall?  Saturated soil conditions can lead to diseases and poor quality turf due to the lack of oxygen available in the root zone.  Turf growing in soil with more air occupying the pore space is healthier than turf growing in water-logged root zones.  When conditions are dry I can apply water directly where necessary and in precise amounts needed.  When it rains like this there is nothing I can do.  Of course, I only manage the golf course and Mother Nature provides the conditions in which I must manage.  It's what I do and I love it no matter what!

Next week we will be installing sod on some miscellaneous areas around the golf course.  Near the cart path edge here, under a tree there, etc.  These minor repairs will "button" everything up nice and tight as we enter our final month of summer and the golf course readies itself for fall.  Speaking of the golf course readying itself, have you noticed it's that time of year again.  I'm talking about the rough.  Every year around the time of the conclusion of The Open Championship, the rough begins to show its teeth and swallow golf balls.  This is because the plant knows the days are getting shorter and it's an environmental response to prepare itself for the coming winter.  Like a squirrel storing nuts, the bermudagrass is trying to make and store carbohydrates.  Every leaf blade is reaching for the sun to maximize photosynthesis, and golf balls that used to sit up on top of the rough are now starting to drop down into the canopy, making for difficult recovery shots and the occasional flyer.  I can tell you we are actually mowing the rough shorter this year than years past, and I am hopeful this height of cut adjustment will ease the difficulty typically encountered this time each year.

Finally, some of you may or may not be aware of a current fad circulating cyber-space called the Ice Bucket Challenge.  Originally started to raise money and awareness for ALS, the challenge has morphed into other charities and has been making its way across different genres.  About two months ago the challenge swept through the PGA Tour as golfers such as Rickie Fowler, Keegan Bradley, Ian Poulter, and Lee Westwood had fun calling each other out.  A couple weeks later the challenge made its way through the ranks of LPGA players.  Looks like the challenge finally found its way into the superintendent ranks when Rhett Evans, CEO of the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America issued a challenge to GCSAA members.  Earlier this week I was called out by one of my peers here in the Carolinas, Chuck Connolly from Greenville C.C.  Anyway, you can CLICK HERE to view Tim Kreger, Executive Director of the Carolinas GCSA accept the challenge from Rhett Evans and get things started in the Carolinas.  HERE is the link to Chuck's participation and his issue of the challenge to yours truly.  My staff and I put our heads together and figured if I was going to do this, we needed to things a little better than most, so CLICK HERE to see how we did things bigger and wetter!  For more information on the Environmental Institute For Golf and Rounds 4 Research CLICK HERE. 

See you on the course,

Matthew Wharton, CGCS