Friday, October 23, 2015

Fall Course Conditions, Overseeding, and Sergio Garcia!

Hello and welcome to "The Greenkeeper"!  Today is Friday, October 23rd and it's been nearly three weeks since my last update.  In that short span we've endured significant rainfall, hosted two major club events, initiated golf course treatments to prepare for winter, and did something for the first time in a decade.  Continue reading below to find out about these things and more in greater detail.

When we last met here the golf course was closed as significant rain impacted the Greater Charlotte area.  That day alone (Saturday, October 3rd) saw us take on 2.65 inches rain.  Coupled with the rain received on October 1st and 4th means we received 3.53 inches during the first four days of this month!  These rain events made the first positive impact to our irrigation reservoir since April as the level rose between three and four feet.
Since that time blue skies and mild temperatures have returned creating some fabulous golf conditions.  I mean, is there really a better time of year than now.
Last weekend was the Senior Men's Championship and they really hit the jackpot with regards to perfect weather.  Consecutive cloudless days with low humidity meant green speeds were just where they should be this time of year, and it was a pleasure to prepare the golf course in this manner for them.  Congratulations to Paul Spadafora as he took home this year's title (his fourth overall)!  As an added bonus, members of the Donald Ross Society played that same Saturday behind the championship and other member play.  It was the first time most had seen Carolina since the restoration (and first time at all for some).  I had the good fortune to introduce myself and speak to some of the group, and each seemed genuinely impressed with the treasure we have tucked away here.  Being an honorary member of the society (so named in 2007) made this occasion even more special.
Recently Carolina Golf Club received some other favorable press as the newest volume of Tom Doak's The Confidential Guide To Golf Courses was released.  If you are not a golf course architecture nerd like me, then perhaps you're not familiar with the book.  Anyway, Volume 2 takes a look at golf courses located in the southern U.S. as well as Central and South America.  I don't know about you but I find it very rewarding to know all the hard work we've put in to making Carolina something special is not being overlooked.  You should all be proud to know your golf course is highly regarded.
Currently there are 60 members and 60 guests enjoying the best of conditions as they compete in our 2015 Fall Member-Guest.  Considering the perfect weather and perfect playing conditions I'm surprised we didn't think of this before.  I sincerely hope everyone has a wonderful time.  Believe it or not despite all these references to perfect weather and perfect conditions, it will not be long before winter is upon us.  Last week we made both a late season fertilizer application to all bermudagrass areas as well the first of two split pre-emergent herbicide applications for the prevention of poa annua and winter weeds.  

One other thing we did in preparation for winter was overseed the primary driving range tee with perennial ryegrass.  This is something new for Carolina as we have not performed this practice during my time as golf course superintendent.  Prior to this year our protocol has been to close the driving range tee for winter when Daylight Savings Time ends and relegate all practice and lessons to the artificial turf.  Many of you do not like hitting from the artificial turf and have expressed a desire to continue using the primary tee during the winter months.  The tee is in dire need of renovation after seven years of continuous use since opening in spring 2007, so I thought now was the best time to experiment with overseeding since I will be renovating the tee next spring.  

The plan is to close the back tee for winter in order to preserve and protect it during the dormant season.  This will provide everyone with a wonderful surface to use next spring while the primary tee recovers from renovation.  In order to remove the overseeded ryegrass and simultaneously smooth and level the tee we will be utilizing a new process called Fraze mowing.  Rather than try and explain the process I've shared a brief YouTube video for you that does a wonderful job showing how one machine can remove unwanted plant material, thatch, etc. and leave behind a smooth, firm surface once the remaining plant material generates new shoots and leaves in a short time.  FRAZE MOWING 

And speaking of winter, by now many of you have probably heard this year sees a return of the phenomenon known as El Nino.  This most likely means here in the Charlotte area we can expect cooler than average temperatures in addition to higher than average precipitation levels (cold and wet).  Here is a brief video by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) explaining the relationship of El Nino to weather patterns across the U.S.  CLICK HERE  

That's all for now.  I'm off to watch some of the Member-Guest action and start thinking about course setup for next week's Tough Day!

See you on the course,

Matthew Wharton, CGCS

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Course Closed... Current Condition Update!

Hello and welcome to "The Greenkeeper"!  Today is Saturday, October 3rd and I want to quickly update you on current conditions as they relate to the flooding rains received early this morning.  The decision to close the golf course was made early this morning (before sunrise) as the Charlotte Metro area received heavy rainfall associated with an upper level low pressure system bringing moisture from the Atlantic Ocean onshore.  At approximately 6:30 am the radar picture looked like this:

Shortly after 10:30 am the "firehose" of rain had shifted slightly to our southwest bringing an end to the rainfall for now, so I quickly trekked onto the course to assess the situation.  I found 2.65 inches rain in the gauges, two small trees uprooted (not in play), minor debris (sticks, leaves, and pine needles) scattered about by the cold, gusty winds, and standing water as the course slowly drains down from this event.  
2.65 Inches Rain!

Dead Tree Right of 11 Cart Path

Small Willow Right of 16 Cart Path

Scattered Sticks and Leaves
Creek Fronting 16 Green
Overall, I would say the golf course came through this event with flying colors.  The golf course will remain closed as conditions are currently unplayable, but at least for now we haven't sustained any significant damage.  Also, despite the rain having stopped water levels are elevated in the two upper ponds and all that water is flowing to our irrigation lake.  This first video is water flowing from the upper most pond under the cart path at number 18:  

This next video is water flowing from the middle pond fronting number 18 through the overflow into the irrigation pond:

As for the irrigation pond, I captured several photos on Thursday in advance of this forecasted rain event.  I will wait to post those along with new photos depicting the before and after once this rain event is over in the next day or two.  The good news is the lake has already risen approximately two to three feet and will continue to rise for quite some time.

Looks like a good day to put your feet up and cheer for your favorite football team.  Stay tuned to Twitter, the CGC App, and The Greenkeeper for more updates as this system continues to impact our region.

Stay safe and stay dry,

Matthew Wharton, CGCS