Monday, January 22, 2018

Welcome Thaw, Project Update, and a New Face!

Hello and welcome to The Greenkeeper!  Today is Monday, January 22nd and let me say it was good to see people enjoying the course yesterday.  The rounds report I received last night stated 133 of you enjoyed the winter golf conditions, which included snow lingering in some shady areas.  Residing in Charlotte can spoil you with mild winter weather, in fact just last year we had the 10th warmest January ever followed by an even warmer February CLICK HERE.  And yesterday the temperature reached 69 degrees and many of you were in shorts, but my team and I physically removed snow from the greens on holes 1, 12, and 17 yesterday morning prior to play.  Go figure.
Whatever It Takes
We are three weeks into 2018 and thus far Old Man Winter is reminding us that despite global warming claims it still gets pretty darn cold from time to time.  In fact, since the beginning of meteorological winter (Dec 1-Feb 28) it's been colder around here than we've seen in several years.
I don't know about you but the so called January thaw we are about to experience is welcomed by me and my team.  Reports indicate a change in the jet stream will bring us milder temperatures for the next few weeks so hopefully we can get caught up on some of the winter projects we originally planned.  The team will be edging cart paths, leveling irrigation heads, plugging turf, making herbicide applications and of course topdressing tees and fairways in the days to come.  The guys are excited today for a Maintenance Monday where they can actually perform golf course maintenance work for a change.   

In other news I'm pleased to announce that our Course Improvement Projects with the help of Golf Course Services are now complete.  Recall last time CLICK HERE I shared a couple photos depicting the newly completed mounds right of number 10.  These are similar in character to others on the property located between holes 4 and 17 along with holes 6 and 7.  Since then the extension to the Ross Tee on hole 17 has been completed.  
Both projects were tasked with the secondary purpose of hiding above ground infrastructure and when everything grows in and the transitions become seamless I believe you will be pleased.  There was one other improvement GCS assisted us with and I'm very pleased with the outcome.  I'm certain you will be too and I will be happy to share with you the details of that project during my presentation tomorrow night at the club's Annual Meeting.  Hope to see you there.
Sneak Preview
And finally, you may recall back in early November I referenced some changes to my management staff CLICK HERE.  Today I'm happy to introduce you to our newest team member, Hunter Patterson, Assistant In Training.
Hunter Patterson
Hunter is a native of Hendersonville, North Carolina and grew up working at Cummings Cove Golf and Country Club.  Hunter spent time in both golf operations and golf maintenance at Cummings Cove giving him a unique two-sided perspective of the business.  After a brief stint at St. Andrews University in Laurinburg where he studied Sports Marketing and was a member of the golf team, Hunter quickly realized his passion was turfgrass and subsequently transferred.  Hunter will graduate from Central Piedmont Community College this spring with his Associate in Applied Science in Turfgrass Management Technology.  The past two years while pursuing his degree Hunter worked on the maintenance staffs at The Club at Longview and Quail Hollow Club.  Please welcome Hunter to Carolina when you see him.

See you on the course,

Matthew Wharton, CGCS, MG  

Friday, January 5, 2018

New Years Wishes, Staying Warm, and Thawing Out!

Hello and welcome to The Greenkeeper!  Today is Friday, January 5th and let me wish each of you a belated Happy New Year!  It's hard to believe we are already 5 days into 2018, and it's even harder to believe this year marks the 10th anniversary of the restoration with Kris Spence.  With our involvement as the companion course and co-host of this year's U.S. Mid-Am, 2018 will definitely be a landmark on the club's historical timeline.  

Ironically that isn't the only thing historic happening at the moment as we are under an arctic outbreak that hasn't been experienced in this area in quite sometime (more later).  I guess you could say it's cold enough to remind those transient members of our city's population what winter felt like before they headed south.  Brrrr!  On the bright side, at least we have a couple of things going on to distract us and help keep us warm.  The PGA Tour is finally back in action in Hawaii this week with live prime time coverage on Golf Channel.  Also, the NFL playoffs begin this weekend and our beloved hometown team is traveling to New Orleans to battle the division rival in the wildcard round, Keep Pounding.  

Despite the cold, our friends with Golf Course Services have continued to make steady progress with our ongoing course improvement projects.  I'm happy to report the mounds Kris Spence helped design and locate right of our tenth fairway are complete.  I hope you all will agree this feature adds interest to the hole and carries the theme throughout the property while providing an extra "hidden" benefit.
Three Mounds Right of 10 Fairway
Also, work continues to progress on the lengthening of No. 17's Ross tee.  At this time grading is complete and sand has been delivered.  When work resumes first of next week the sand cap will be installed and final shaping and grassing will complete the project.  There is one other item GCS has been assisting with that I think you will all notice is a major improvement.  I'm happy to report the work in front of number 16 is near completion and I look forward to you seeing it next time you're on the course.
In the meantime your golf course maintenance team has set up shop and has been busy refurbishing our golf course accessories and fixtures.  Each year during the worst of winter weather we bring in all the benches, waste receptacles, tee markers, and other items for some sprucing up.  I'm happy to report we've completed many of the items and returned them to the course before you could notice they've been missing.

So back to the weather.  It's been pretty darn cold the past few days, with temperatures well below freezing.  Although the golf course is technically open when no frost is present, there hasn't been anyone brave the conditions this week (glad to see folks are staying indoors and hopefully keeping warm).  From the data below the overall average temperature the past four days is approximately 10 degrees below freezing!
Today and tomorrow are expected to be like the preceding days and then we finally start to see the numbers inching upwards on Sunday.  Any play that takes place between now and Sunday will experience a golf course that is frozen solid.  The question is when will the course thaw.  
can tell you from experience it will take a few days and this is when we may encounter a set of conditions that may force some level of course closure.  As the ground begins to slowly thaw it will do so from the surface down.  As the top 1/2 inch to inch thaws the soil layer becomes very soft while down below the soil remains frozen solid.  When this occurs it becomes detrimental to the turf as foot traffic and such on the soft layer can cause roots encased in frozen soil to shift, shear and break off at the interface.  If this were to occur we would lose all our root depth we've established since autumn and head into spring with compromised conditions.

Now, this isn't the first time this has occurred.  We had a similar set of circumstances back in Feb 2015 and I've pasted the update from that scenario here for your convenience THOUGHTS BEHIND AN UNPOPULAR DECISION.  Keep in mind, I'm not saying today the course is going to be closed come Tuesday of next week, I am merely making you aware that it's possible Tuesday and perhaps beyond could require a full or partial closure until conditions safe for the turf return.  I know, it's frustrating but believe me I would rather inconvenience a few for a day or two in the winter than inconvenience all of you come spring with unsatisfactory course conditions.  Like I stated in the post from three years ago, a golf course thawing from a deep freeze is like trying to thaw your frozen Thanksgiving turkey in the refrigerator, it just doesn't happen overnight.

Anyway, let's all hope and pray the cold recedes back to Canada soon and we can all get out and try our new golf related gear Santa delivered.  Stay tuned to Twitter and the Golf Shop for updates and details regarding course conditions next week.  2018 is finally here, it's going to be a big year at Carolina Golf Club, and my team and I look forward to exceeding your expectations.  Stay warm!

See you on the course,

Matthew Wharton, CGCS, MG