Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Things I'm Thankful For!

Hello and welcome to "The Greenkeeper"!  Today is Wednesday, November 26th, the day before Thanksgiving and before I share my annual list of things I'm thankful for this year, I want to take a moment to talk about another really cool tradition.  Tomorrow Carolina Golf Club is closed.  The gate will remain closed at the street and the clubhouse will be locked.  All club employees are scheduled to be off in order to spend time enjoying Thanksgiving with their families.  I do not know if you fully understand the significance of this gesture, but I'm here to tell you my staff truly appreciates the opportunity to catch up on a little sleep and spend quality time with their children, brothers, sisters, parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and etc.

When you work in the golf industry you spend your holidays at the golf course because that is when the folks we work so hard to please are off from work and desire to play this game we all love and enjoy.  But on this day folks wishing to get in a quick round before the turkey, or maybe a quick nine afterwards are welcome to do so, but it is bare bones golf.  There will not be anybody there to greet you in the parking lot when you arrive, and give you a lift up the hill to the clubhouse.  There will not be anybody there to retrieve your clubs for you or load them onto a golf car.  There will not be a pin sheet or balls on the range tee ready to help you warm up.  The greens will not be mowed or bunkers freshly raked, as that will have taken place the day before.  What will be there are 18 holes of peace and solitude.  You are welcome to walk and even bring guests free of charge.  It is golf in its purest form, people walking and enjoying the grandest of games simply for the love of it, and maybe to get out of the way in the kitchen at home.

Me, I will be here, briefly.  I will rise early, fix a cup of coffee and drive in through the clubhouse gate.  I will patrol the entire course making sure everything is still in its proper place and nothing is broken, damaged or out of the ordinary.  If there is no frost to be concerned with I will drive out the back gate and return home to my family, and if there is frost I will hang around behind the clubhouse to ensure nobody inadvertently damages susceptible turf before the frost lifts.  Frost likely tomorrow morning with temperature near 34 F!  Although Thanksgiving Day at Carolina Golf Club is a fairly new tradition, it is one I am thankful for because of the opportunity it gives my staff, and the quiet, peaceful morning it affords me.
Morning Glory!
I wish I could tell you the course will be it's absolute best tomorrow, but unfortunately the rain this morning is saturating the golf course and making things challenging.  My staff and I will do our best to change holes, mow greens and rake bunkers when the rain stops today, but the wet course conditions will make it impossible to get tractors and blowers on the course to remove fallen leaves.  My apologies in advance for anyone having to invoke the "Leaf Rule" over the next several days!  

I looked back through my archives (including pre-Blogger days) to see exactly when I started making this annual list.  I guess the summer of 2010 was the inspiration (I'm still thankful that is over) and it has now become a tradition just like the one I described above.  Granted my list is small potatoes compared to the one printed annually in the Charlotte Observer by the legendary Ron Green, Sr., but it is still fun to look back and reflect on the past year.  For those of you dying of curiosity here are links to my lists in 20112012, and 2013.  You will see some things never change while tailoring the list specifically to each year.  

As for 2014, it was a big year for Carolina Golf Club and your's truly.  Trying to mention everyone and everything I am thankful for in one list is not easy but here goes... this year I am thankful for:
  1. My wife Darless!  We met on a golf course 21 years ago, began dating 20 years ago, and recently celebrated 18 years of marriage.  You are my inspiration to rise and be the best I can be every morning.  I love you Mrs. Greenkeeper! 
  2. My family!  From my 91 year-old grandfather to my 11 year-old granddaughter, I have been blessed with one amazing family (mostly thanks to the lady listed number one).
  3. My faith!  I try my hardest to remain humble because I am not worthy of all the blessings bestowed me this year (most of them occurring here).
  4. The game of golf!  Without this grand game invented centuries ago none of this is even possible.  I thank God for the game of golf everyday.  It is not just a game you and I play and enjoy, but it is the life I live.
  5. These guys!  It was an honor and a privilege to lead this team this year.  These guys worked hard everyday to prepare this course for you and your guests.
    We also had fun showcasing the course on your behalf during the 54th NORTH CAROLINA AMATEUR CHAMPIONSHIP
  6. The love, respect and support of Carolina Golf Club!  Your gift to me earlier this year (GIFT) will forever remind me of why I love what I do (cultivating fine turf and preparing championship conditions for the enjoyment of others).
  7. Certification!  I owe a great deal of gratitude to Roger Wolfe, CCM and my wife Darless for their encouragement and support.  They paved the way for me to finally complete a professional goal.
  8. Twitter!  It may seem silly to you on the surface but this social media platform has allowed me to communicate more frequently with members and share information with superintendents from all around the world!  The past year has been truly eye opening.
  9. Green Grass!  Our ongoing experiment this off-season to provide color to the tees and fairways has been well received by you according to your comments and emails.  
    I like it too, winter can be dreary enough without seeing dormant brown everywhere you look.
  10. Being the superintendent of Carolina Golf Club!  The past 10 years have flown by and I sincerely hope you will have me for another 10.  I never tire of the sunrise over the course, I never tire of striving hard everyday to ensure the golf course is the best it can possibly be, and I never tire of playing the best golf course in town!
  11. In a year like this past I feel it is appropriate to have one more thing to be thankful for... I am thankful everyday for the men and women of this country that put their lives on the line around the world so people like me can have the freedom to sit at a desk on a rainy morning and publish lists like this!  God Bless!
Happy Thanksgiving Carolina Golf Club!

See you on the course,

Matthew Wharton, CGCS

Friday, November 14, 2014

Forrest Gump, Coat of Many Colors, Frost Delays, and Humble Candidate!

Hello and welcome to "The Greenkeeper"!  Today is Friday, November 14th and Mother Nature is showing her sense of humor again.  The temperature as of 12:30 pm today was 39 F with a wind chill of 32 F (that's freezing), while just a short 48 hours ago we experienced a high temperature of 77 F.  I guess that's why November is a transitional month similar to March... "you never know what you're going to get"!

Of course it was just 11 days ago we endured our first hard, killing frost of the season when on the morning of November 3rd the low temperature was a record tying 24 F.
Number 5
Number 6

Number 7

Since that time the rough has continued turning dormant brown while the closely mowed areas have held on to some color (this is due to soil temperatures remaining elevated at this time of year).  Although the vibrant green we all enjoyed just a couple of short weeks ago began to slowly fade, folks were recently talking about a potential rebound caused by the warm up earlier this week.  Well, I wish that were the case but I must confess the golf course was treated this week to enhance the color contrast between the fairways and rough.
Over the past four years I have been coloring the target greens on the practice range to provide contrast during the winter off-season.  During this time I have expanded those treatments to also include the range tee, par 3 tees, and even select approach fairways (numbers 12 and 16) at one time or another.  With winter approaching and forecasts calling for a repeat of last year the decision was made to expand the treatments to include all closely mowed areas (tees, fairways, approaches, and surrounds).  Essentially I have "painted" the fairways for the purpose of winter color.  The process is considerably less costly than overseeding and without the adverse effects overseeding can cause CLICK HERE FOR REFRESHER.  Also, not only do we get to enjoy the enhanced aesthetics of the golf course, but the darker turf canopy should absorb and retain more heat than if left naturally dormant.  This should enhance the winter survival capacity of the bermudagrass along with a quicker, more uniform green-up next spring. 

Numbers 11 and 12
Number 18

Green "Ribbons"

I am using two different products in order to test and compare for future years.  The tees are being treated with a product called Turfscreen Dormant and the fairways and approaches are being treated with the same product we have used on the target greens and other areas mentioned the past four years.  Thus far the feedback I have received has been overwhelmingly positive.  Even Kris Spence (our restoration architect) stated it reminded him of Pinehurst when he stopped by to look at a few things with me on Wednesday.

With all this talk about cold temperatures and frost I figured this was as good a time as any to remind everyone the importance of why we do not permit play when there is frost on the golf course.  This is a very common topic discussed at nearly every golf course this time of year, and it is something I have written and blogged about numerous times.  So rather than subject you to reading an old blog post I thought I would add this link to a video produced by the USGA Green Section.  It's less than two minutes long and pretty much sums up the importance of frost delays.  FROST DELAYS 

Finally, I will be in Myrtle Beach the first half of next week attending the annual Carolinas Golf Course Superintendents Association (CGCSA) Conference and Trade Show.  I will be defending my association golf championship on Monday, attending two education seminars and the trade show on Tuesday, and Wednesday I will be on the ballot at the annual meeting to be elected to the CGCSA Board of Directors.  The CGCSA is one of the largest regional trade associations within the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America.  We consist of over 1800 members, own our own building, have our own full-time staff, publish our own magazine (Carolinas Green), are leaders in the regulatory and legislative arenas in both North and South Carolina in areas affecting the game of golf, and our annual conference and trade show is recognized as the number one regional show in the country.  If elected this would be a two-year term of office and I am humbled my peers want me to represent them and simultaneously honored to represent Carolina Golf Club.

See you on the course,

Matthew Wharton, CGCS