Friday, March 6, 2015

Youthful Reminder, Tough Love, and GIS Recap!

Hello and welcome to "The Greenkeeper"!  Today is Friday, March 6th and last week I was in San Antonio representing Carolina Golf Club at the 2015 Golf Industry Show (GIS).  Many of you members might be wondering what is the GIS, and others might be wondering why I was in attendance.  Now, I can tell you the GIS is the single largest golf course maintenance trade show in the world, and I was there to learn about new products, equipment, and technologies in an effort to make your golf experience at Carolina Golf Club better.  But rather than tell you this, I thought today I would show you!  Before I do, let me quickly share some weather related statistics that hopefully sheds some perspective on this year's winter.  I am also going to quickly mention a couple of important golf course related things that are not just on the horizon, but literally right around the corner.  After that we will learn about this year's Golf Industry Show.

Most people understand winter begins on the day of the winter solstice and continues until the spring equinox, but meteorological winter is the period from December 1 through February 28 (hey, I don't make these rules I just pay attention to them).  Anyway, I believe most people here remembers the "Polar Vortex" of last winter and how cold the country was throughout most of the northeast and even this far south.  Well, did you know that here in Charlotte, NC this year's winter was actually COLDER than last year.  Last year the daytime temperature average (high and low combined) during meteorological winter was 42.4 F.  This year the average was 41.1 F!  Also, February 2015 wrapped up as the 7th coldest February in Charlotte history and coldest since 1978.  Many of you have commented for years about how we don't have "winters like when we were kids".  Well this year we did and oddly enough, when I was growing up in Virginia we only attended school one day the entire month of January during the winter of 1977-78 because of snow.  I was in the fourth grade and the last day of school that year was June 15th!

Despite all this talk of record cold the calendar still reads March which means it is almost time to move the clocks forward (Daylight Savings Time begins Sunday) and we will be aerating greens soon. Historically we core aerate putting greens the third Monday in March which happens to be the 16th this year so we are only ten days away!  The course will be closed both Monday and Tuesday that week as we perform all necessary treatments (core aerate, remove cores, apply amendments, apply fertility, topdress, brush in topdressing sand, and irrigate).  It is a very labor intensive process but it is a labor of love as we give the greens a little TLC.  Okay, maybe it sounds more like "tough love" but hey, no pain no gain!  The temporary surface disruption encountered now provides us the ability to push our greens and provide the conditions everyone has come to expect and enjoy during our busy spring event calendar and sets us on the path to surviving summer.  Nothing worthwhile ever comes easy.

Also, as spring approaches we will be making our spring pre-emergent herbicide applications to all bermudagrass areas and natural/native areas.  We will be spreading fresh mulch in all landscape and on-course areas before Easter.  And, hopefully we will make one final fairway colorant treatment to both enhance the color present but also help speed spring green-up and post-dormancy transition.  In other words, longer days are upon us and eventually the golf course will wake from winter hibernation. It is time to shake off those winter doldrums and get with it!  Am I speaking to the golfers or my staff :) 

Okay, if you are not a turf industry professional and unsure what the Golf Industry Show is, the following information is designed to assist you in understanding what it is we golf course superintendents, assistants, equipment managers, and other industry related personnel do when we gather annually.  This year marked the 13th consecutive GIS I have been fortunate to attend, starting with the 2003 show in Atlanta.  I also attended the 1999 show in Orlando while still a graduate student at Virginia Tech, but that is a different story for a different audience (you know who you are).  This year's conference marked the first time the GIS had been to San Antonio since 1978, and to the Lone Star State since Dallas in 2001, so this was my first time in Texas!

Golf Channel has done a phenomenal job the past few years showcasing the annual PGA Merchandise Show which takes place each year near the end of January.  PGA professionals come from all around the world to Orlando to see the new equipment and merchandise that will help all us golf lovers look and play our best.  Morning Drive, hosted by former Carolina Golf Club member Gary Williams has even broadcast directly from the trade show floor because we are all golf lovers and we all want to find ways to improve our games.

Well, the same is true for golf course superintendents.  We love the golf courses we are entrusted to care for and we are always striving for ways to improve course conditions while conserving costs and resources.  In fact, the GCSAA (Golf Course Superintendents Association of America) was founded in 1926 on that very principle.  A group of greenkeepers got together to share ideas in hopes to learn from one another.  It is this open communication and sharing that makes the golf course superintendent profession one of the greatest in the entire world, because deep down we are all brothers and willing do whatever is necessary to help one another when in need.  For evidence of this I submit what Lukas Harvey, Director of Agronomy at PGA National had to say about the response from local area superintendents when a storm ravaged last week's Honda Classic! CLICK HERE FOR STORY  
So back to this year's GIS, Golf Channel dispatched Geoff Shackelford to San Antonio to see what was going on and he managed to spend some time on the trade show floor, talk to some golf course superintendents, and even sat down with the CEO of GCSAA, Rhett Evans to talk about the state of our beloved game.  The segments were edited and aired last week on Morning Drive, and I even tweeted a link to a couple of them upon my return home.  Maybe you were fortunate to already see one or more of them, but if not I have linked each video below for your convenience.  The videos are brief, and you may see some similar footage shared between them but I think for the first time Golf Channel has done a nice job capturing the essence of the Golf Industry Show and why we superintendents come together each year.  Unfortunately there are brief advertisements leading in to these video segments, but hey it only takes 15 seconds to learn Chevy offers 4G LTE WiFi in the new Cruze, the Chrysler 200 is America's Import, or Golfsmith is currently having Trade-In Days so please watch.




Before I go I want to share one more video segment with you.  GCSAAtv was once again on hand filming events from the GIS and this video is a brief compilation of the Opening Session.  It includes recognition for outgoing GCSAA President, Keith Ihms, CGCS, the 2014 class of newly certified superintendents, and this year's Old Tom Morris Award winner, Dan Jenkins.  If you look closely you might recognize the guy at the 2:21 mark, but don't blink! 

GCSAA TV! 3:46  

Of course I would be remiss if I didn't acknowledge one other highlight at this year's conference.  I received an award for the Best Overall Use of Social Media given by Golf Course Industry magazine in partnership with Aquatrols.  This marked the fourth consecutive year GCI recognized superintendents for their communication skills and the various ways we utilize social media to spread our message to our members, guests, and patrons.  I was recognized for how I use both this blog and my Twitter feed, @CGCGreenkeeper to communicate with you about Carolina Golf Club.

Receiving My Award From Pat Jones!
Information about the awards and other winners can be found HERE courtesy of Golf Course Industry. One of the best things about this year's GIS was meeting the other winners, along with other industry people that I have been sharing and communicating with over the past year.  It is cool to "tweet" with someone from anywhere in the world but it is way more cool to shake their hand!

It was a fun time in San Antonio but I am happy to be home!  I always manage to come back recharged and ready for the spring/summer golf season that is just around the corner.  Like you I am tired of this cold, dreary winter weather and ready to get on the golf course and manicure some actively growing turf!  Fingers crossed and hoping for the best with regards to spring's arrival.

See you on the course,

Matthew Wharton, CGCS

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