Thursday, January 22, 2015

Colonel Potter, Touring Pros, 50 Shades More, and Sad News!

Hello and welcome to "The Greenkeeper"!  Today is Thursday, January 22nd and it looks like winter is getting set to make its return to the Queen City.  I sincerely hope you have been one of the many who recently dusted off the clubs during this welcomed "January Thaw" because I think us fair weather golfers are in for another onset of cabin fever.  For those out there that want to claim the game of golf is dead or dying, Colonel Potter says, "Horse Hockey!"  One only needs to look at the recent effects of the "January Thaw" in comparison to the conditions experienced during last year's "Polar Vortex" winter to fully understand the power of weather on our beloved game.
Colonel Potter!
In January of 2014 there were 401 total rounds of golf played at Carolina Golf Club (not too bad for a club full of diehard golf lovers that play on any day that ends in "y").  Now look at what several consecutive days of temperatures above 60 F will do when they coincide with a federal holiday weekend.  Friday through Monday we had rounds of 63, 134, 134, and 111 respectively for a 4-day total of 442!  That's right, we had more rounds played this past weekend than all of January last year!  So, on behalf of golf lovers everywhere I say Mother Nature please hurry up with winter and let's get to spring!

I am happy to report I was one of those 63 rounds this past Friday and I managed to squeeze in one more yesterday afternoon.  According to the most recent GHIN update from the Carolinas Golf Association I had not played golf since the Ross Retreat (December 5-7) and had not enjoyed a game here at Carolina Golf Club since November 11th!  The golf course is truly in excellent condition for the middle of January.  After an extremely wet end to December and wet start to January (nearly 4 inches rain over that 30 day period), the course has finally dried out enough to reestablish firm, fast conditions.  In fact two of our Touring Pro members could be seen taking advantage of the excellent course conditions as they prepare for the start of the upcoming tour season.

One thing I noticed as I recently played the course, and am frequently asked this time of year is why the greens take on such an unusual appearance.  The term for this uneven color distribution is mottled or mottling (meaning marked or diversified with spots or blotches of a different color or shade).

Closer View
Splotchy Appearance

You see our putting greens are a blend of two different varieties of creeping bentgrass, A1 and A4.  Both A1 and A4 bentgrasses are what we call improved hybrid varieties, meaning they were developed through breeding efforts where varieties with particular characteristics or traits were crossed with others in order to develop grasses with overall improved characteristics (i.e., lower mowing height tolerance, improved heat tolerance, disease resistance, etc.). 

With the bentgrasses it seems winter always brings out a little separation or segregation within the turf stand.  Think of it like this, imagine going to a family reunion and all the cousins with blue eyes sat together while all the cousins with brown eyes sat at a different table, and all the cousins with red hair sat at another different table, etc.  These little "patches" of turf with slightly different colors or textures are just the genetic differences expressing themselves during cold weather stress (A1 and A4 were bred for greater heat tolerance).  These visual differences have no impact on ball roll or putting green smoothness.  In fact, when I had an opportunity to speak with young Mr. Day on the practice putting green yesterday, he expressed to me these greens must be the best in town.  We like to think so Kelvin! ;)

Finally, I have some sad news to share.  I was informed yesterday that Amos McDowell passed away this past Sunday.  Many of you may not know who I am referring to, but my staff knew Mr. McDowell well.  You see, Amos lived across the street from the entrance to the club and periodically would wander across and make his way up and down the right side of hole number 8 looking for golf balls along the fence.  He always carried a club with him to aid his walking and he could be seen hitting a few short shots every now and then.
Amos McDowell
I had the pleasure of speaking with Mr. McDowell countless times and he always had a story to tell.  He grew up right here in Charlotte with our beloved Hazel Brown and also knew Dr. Charlie Sifford, who got his start in golf caddying at Carolina Golf Club as a teenager.  From the golf course maintenance staff our thoughts and prayers are with his family as he was a "friend of the game" and his presence always brightened our days.

See you on the course,

Matthew Wharton, CGCS

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