Friday, January 9, 2015

Cruising Altitude and 50 Shades of Green!

Hello and welcome to "The Greenkeeper"!  Today is Friday, January 9th and later today the PGA Tour finally gets things started again with first round play in the Hyundai Tournament of Champions in Maui, Hawaii.  I always enjoy the first two tour events of the calendar year because it is nice to relax on the sofa and watch golf in warm, sunny Hawaii while it is pitch dark and bitterly cold outside at home.  Golf in prime time... we need more of it!

Yesterday I met with the Greens Committee to discuss the 2015 maintenance budget.  If I could summarize the theme of the conversation in a few words I think I would say 2015 is a year to "level off".  Now before you jump to conclusions or begin to think we are cutting back on course conditioning, let me explain.  From 2005-2008 we were under constant construction and renovation as we implemented all four phases of the Master Plan.  This was a constant climb to reach new heights previously unattained in the history of the club.  In 2009 we leveled off.  The club and staff both needed an opportunity to "catch our breath" after four years of construction and improvements (I know at that time I was tired of seeing dirt).

The summer of 2010 taught us to rethink our strategies and agronomic programs and we then pointed ourselves in the direction of a new goal, the 2014 North Carolina Amateur Championship.  We hosted the CGA's Mid-Amateur Championship in 2011 as a stepping stone and we made significant improvements to the course during the past few years (additional drainage, new bunker sand, new tees, and new range tee) as we readied ourselves for this historic occasion.  Along the way the club also added a new patio, renovated the dining room and office space, and added much needed storage.  Now that 2015 is finally here it is once again time to level off and allow everyone an opportunity to catch their breath.

There are big things on the horizon for Carolina Golf Club just a few short years down the road (not at liberty to discuss at this moment) and we are not trying to coast between now and then, but we definitely want to keep the train on tracks and keep it between the lines.  My staff and I plan to use 2015 as an opportunity to make small improvements and tweaks to the golf course and our programs.  We want to refine the way we do things this year and next because soon it will be time to accelerate down the runway and begin soaring to even newer heights!  Until then, just sit back and feel free to roam around the cabin as we enjoy a season of golf at Carolina Golf Club at cruising altitude.

Led Zeppelin's Starship

On New Year's Eve Mrs. Greenkeeper and I enjoyed a night at the movies (yes, she is still willing to date me after 18 years of marriage).  During the previews we saw the theatrical trailer for the much anticipated 50 Shades of Grey (Valentine's Day release for those of you wondering).  No, I didn't read the book series but I'm aware of the phenomenon.  If I had to describe the trailer in one word ...steamy!  Of course, it is anything but steamy here in Charlotte right now as temperatures dropped well below freezing Wednesday and remained there all day yesterday and most of today.  In fact we were below freezing for more than 40 consecutive hours.  Currently the golf course is frozen but we are open for play for any brave souls who find themselves needing to "cool off".

The decision to color our closely mowed turf areas (tees, fairways, and surrounds) this year has received rave reviews based on the feedback I have.  I am glad most everyone has found this improvement to their liking but you might be wondering why all those areas I mentioned do not look the same.  We started using colorants (pigments, dyes, and turf paints) about five years ago as a way to provide definition to the target greens on the practice range during the winter dormant season.  Some years we expanded to include the range tee, par 3 tees, small approach fairways, and even the event lawn when extra product was at our disposal.  This past year we decided to go for it, and I made arrangements to try several different products in order to determine what gives us the best results.
Dec 2013
One Year Later

I am sure everyone remembers yellow and blue make green and just like going to your local home improvement store and looking at color swatches, not all turf colorants are the same shade of green (there are a surprising number of products available for turf on the market today).  How long these products last are a result of many factors.  They are susceptible to breakdown and degradation when exposed to UV light.  Traffic is another factor along with application rates (more product takes longer to breakdown than less).  Thus golf holes with a southern exposure might fade more quickly than a northern one and golf holes with no golf car traffic, like our par 3's and hole number 2 may hold up better than others.  Of course the color and texture of the natural turf underneath plays an important role, so there are many reasons why you see different shades of green.  Currently the tees look more like my mother's turquoise jewelry from the mid to late 1970's, our fairways look more natural, our driving range tee is another shade of green, and the target greens have a bluish hue.    
Number 9
Number 3

Range Tee and Target Greens
In order to maintain the appearance these products must be periodically reapplied.  We only have a small amount remaining to reapply for this winter season, thus things appear more faded now than I would normally like.  We will touch everything up one final time either later this month or first of February.  The committee and I are discussing costs and procedures necessary to implement the practice again in the future in a manner which permits us to reapply more frequently achieving a balanced, uniform look without the peaks and valleys experienced this year.  For the record, our original product we've used the past few years is the best performer.  It has the most natural appearance compared to the newer ones we have experimented with.

That's all for now, I need to check on a few things out on the course before heading home to watch some golf!  Bundle up and here's hoping we can all get out to play soon! 

See you on the course,

Matthew Wharton, CGCS

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