Thursday, December 21, 2017

Project Update, Outlook, and More Geeky Golf!

Hello and welcome to The Greenkeeper!  Today is Thursday, December 21st or as the calendar indicates, the first official day of winter.  It might not feel like winter when it was 73 degrees two days ago and nearly 100 of you (94 total rounds played) took advantage, but the winds of change will arrive in a few days I'm told.  Today in this space I'm going to give you a brief golf course project update.  Then we'll take a look at the weather forecast for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day to determine any potential impacts to your golf activities.  And I'll wrap up this edition with a couple of new golf course architecture related items I've come across since our last time together.  Think of them as my gift to your inner nerd this holiday season.

Our friends from Golf Course Services have been assisting us with two course improvements the past couple weeks.  We are adding a series of irregular mounds to the right of No. 10 located in the rough approximately 190 - 210 yards from the center of the Ross tee (404 yards).  These mounds are similar to those found between holes 4/17 and 6/7.  Architect Kris Spence was on site this past Monday morning to assist with shape and placement and I'm happy to report turf has been replaced.  

You may recall one of our irrigation well pumps is in that area and was pictured last update CLICK HERE It's still there but now concealed within a newly constructed vault deep inside our new architectural feature.  Our other course improvement is of a similar nature in that the irrigation well pump behind 17 Ross tee is also being concealed.  We are adding about 7 yards length to the Ross tee (currently 392 yards) in order to close the gap between the tee and well.  A new vault has been constructed around the well and it's being buried within the fill supporting the tee extension.  While on site Monday, Kris also consulted with the general shaping and tie-ins necessary for this tee box expansion.  
We were unable to work on these projects yesterday due to the rain (0.94" total) and now GCS is scheduled to break for the upcoming Christmas and New Year's holidays.  We'll reconvene on January 2nd and hopefully wrap everything up by mid-month.  #StayTuned

Last week felt like winter had finally arrived in the Carolinas.  In fact we experienced temperatures cold enough overnight to reach the lower and mid twenties both Saturday and Sunday mornings.  Those were two of our lengthiest frost delays of the season (thank you again for your cooperation and patience), and then just two days later we fell only 3 degrees shy of tying the record high (always a roller coaster).  Anyway, this current reprieve from cold is merely that, a reprieve as winter is reloading and will be arriving next week.  If we look at the next 10 days (thanks Brad) you can see cold air will be returning to the Queen City in plenty of time to ring in 2018.  But as for this coming Sunday and Monday (club closed, course accessible walking only) things appear to be okay (no potential frost issues, etc.) provided you can obtain the necessary clearance from family and loved ones. ;)
Before I go I promised a little something extra for your holiday enjoyment.  Last time I posted links to video fly-overs of two notable Seth Raynor designed golf courses and the response I received from many of you was overwhelmingly positive.  Good news, I since came across a fly-over of famed Pine Valley courtesy of Golf Digest.  This video is slightly different from the other two as it is narrated by Jerry Tarde, Golf Digest Editor-in-Chief but what it lacks in soundtrack it makes up with, well, Pine Valley.  PINE VALLEY DRONE TOUR 

And for those of you that just love historical images I have something I think you are going to find way cool.  Jason Way from Chicago runs a blog called Geeked on Golf.  Recently his post "Now & Then - Great Holes Through the Years" combines the amazing images of Philadelphia based golf freelance photographer Jon Cavalier with the historical images supplied by Simon Haines from Solihull, England.  Paired together these photographs form an awe inspiring 1-2 punch.  If you happen to follow both Jon and Simon on Twitter (@LinksGems and @Hainesy76 respectively) then you've seen this unfold as Jon posts a photo and then Simon replies shortly thereafter with nearly an identical image taken decades before.  Anyway, I hope you enjoy.  It never ceases to amaze me how nature evolves over time and this collection captures it brilliantly.  CLICK HERE  

Although unconfirmed, rumor has it this is Simon Haines inside his amazing archive of historical golf records. ;)
Well that's all for now, we are going to fire up the grill and have a special holiday luncheon for the team after we complete course setup today.  Good luck to everyone participating in our annual holiday outing, we hope you have fun and enjoy the course despite the soggy conditions (cart path only).  My team and I are going to enjoy a little camaraderie and reflect on another great season while you play.  Please feel free to drop in and say hello while playing the seventh, the guys would really enjoy your good cheer.  After that it's off to the mountains of Virginia for a few days to see the family, but don't worry, be back soon.  

See you on the course,

Matthew Wharton, CGCS, MG

Friday, December 8, 2017

Golf Course Services, Short Game Work, and Junkies!

Hello and welcome to The Greenkeeper!  Today is Friday, December 8th and I want to update you on a couple things golf course related.  The first is a new improvement project our good friends at Golf Course Services, Inc. (GCS) will be assisting us with, and the other is something I hope helps you make more efficient use of our Short Game Area this off-season.  If time permits maybe I'll slip something else in, but for starters let's cover what's going on with those materials in the club parking area.

What started as discussions with our lake and pond service provider about addressing the sediment buildup in the stream channel fronting No. 16 green (this constant flowing water body originates off property and we catch sediment and debris during heavy downpours) evolved into a small mobilization effort and a "camouflage" side project.  We have a total of four wells on property, and although they are mostly "out of sight, out of mind" occasionally one or more will be discussed for its intrusive nature.  In other words, how do you hide something in plain sight.  

Well (pun intended), after meeting with our architect, Kris Spence a couple months back a plan was developed to enhance some golf course features that will "house" the pumps inside.  We will be lengthening the Ross tee of hole No. 17 as well as (pun not intended) adding mounds like found between holes 4 and 17 to the right side of hole No. 10.  
There's not a lot to share at this point as we're just scratching the surface of the project.  We did manage to get both footers poured and we'll begin construction of the block walls first of next week.  I will update and share more as we progress. #staytuned.   

Recently Head Golf Professional, Bobby Cox spoke with me about the Short Game Area.  He was concerned about the amount of divots recently made and their impact on the turf as we enter winter.  I can tell you although the divots have been patched they will be there all winter because bermudagrass stopped growing over a month ago and will not regrow until late next spring.  We discussed the matter with both the Golf Committee and Greens Committee Chairmen and it was decided this would be a great time to revisit the "off-season" usage policies of our practice facilities for those either needing a refresher or those newer members that just wasn't fully aware.  But before I do I've added a link to a post from May of last year that contains some great information about the Short Game Area and its design and intended use. CLICK HERE 

Now, our "off-season" policies go into effect each year when the clocks return to standard time.  We close the Back Range Tee till spring and permit use of the natural turf on the overseeded Primary Range Tee Fridays through Sundays (weather permitting).  Tuesdays through Thursdays all range use is on the mats.  As for the Short Game Area it "technically" remains open but the big difference you hopefully have noticed is balls are not readily available.  During the growing season den caddies, buckets, and shag bags of balls are strategically placed throughout the Short Game Area for your convenience and to "encourage" you to practice from certain locations.  During the "off-season" the Golf Staff is asked to suspend this service while the turf isn't growing.

The Committee's thought behind this policy is if you really want to work on your bunker play or bump and run you can do so with a sleeve or two of balls from your bag and improve your feel and touch, then move on to putting and/or something else.  By not having "unlimited" balls at one's disposal the likelihood of one or more individuals "over using" the turf is greatly discouraged.

It was recently brought to my attention some members weren't fully aware of the reasons behind these policies and were helping themselves to practice balls located inside the cart barn.  Perhaps now you have a better understanding to the thought process behind these policies and you can continue to utilize the area throughout the winter but in a manner that still helps protect and preserve turf for the coming spring.  Simply stated, the policies are there to ensure you and your fellow members aren't unhappy come springtime when the temperature is warm, the sun is out, but the grass in the Short Game Area isn't there.  Thank you in advance for your cooperation!

Moving along, since it's cold, wet and dreary outside today (there's even a slight chance of snow) I thought I would share a couple of videos to brighten your day, and please my fellow golf course architecture junkies.  Recently my friend Sean Tully (Sean is superintendent of Meadow Club in Fairfax, California) shared a link to a YouTube video featuring a flyover of Fishers Island Club in New York, regarded by many as Seth Raynor's finest design.  Have a look.  Fishers Island Flyover  

If you enjoyed that then I'm certain you will enjoy this similar video featuring Westhampton Country Club on Long Island, believed to be Raynor's first solo design.  Westhampton Flyover 

I know Raynor isn't our guy, we're Ross lovers...
...but the videos are cool and I especially dig that soundtrack on the Westhampton one.  Hopefully we can take inspiration and have one featuring Carolina produced next year.  Maybe I can ask Santa, I believe he's dropping by the club this weekend.  Hmmm.

See you on the course,

Matthew Wharton, CGCS, MG