Thursday, February 22, 2018

Spring Fever, Sally Field, & Special Gift!

Hello and welcome to The Greenkeeper!  Today is Thursday, February 22nd and spring is in the air all around the Queen City!  Cherry blossoms are blooming, trees are budding, it's crazy when you think we are setting record highs and 3 weeks ago my last post mentioned how cold winter had been.  Such is life in the Transition Zone.
Since returning from the Golf Industry Show on the 9th the average high temperature in Charlotte has been 67 degrees with 5 days reaching at least 70 degrees or more, including a record smashing 82 degrees this past Friday (Feb 16)!
And we even hit 80 degrees yesterday to establish another record!  You may be wondering what impact, if any this early warm-up may have on our bermudagrass tees and fairways.  Surely we all remember from our high school biology class that plants produce their own energy via photosynthesis, but what about a plant that's been in hibernation.  There isn't any photosynthesis taking place on the biscuit brown canopy of dormant turf.  Bermudagrass relies on stored energy in the form of carbohydrates to assist with the process of breaking dormancy and producing new shoots and leaves.  Once the plant fully exits dormancy will it be able to resume production of its own energy.

As you can imagine, if the plant wakes from dormancy too early using its carbohydrate reserves in the process, what will happen if the plant is once again subjected to freezing cold temperatures sending it back into a dormant state.  Such is life in the Transition Zone.

We've seen this scenario play out several times before, to the point I'm beginning to think it's the "new normal".  Each year a portion of winter is too warm and just when everyone is fully smitten with spring fever, Old Man Winter reminds us that March, and even April can have its fair share of cold.  I wish I could tell you this warmth is here to stay, but unfortunately there already is talk about a potential change in the pattern for early March.  Until then, I suggest you dust off those clubs and enjoy the course.  I know that's what Matt Claunch and I plan to do today as we have scheduled our first "course inspection" of 2018 for later this afternoon.  

Earlier I mentioned my return from the Golf Industry Show.  This year's conference was a whirlwind of education and activities.  It was a treat to witness Ernie Els receive the Old Tom Morris Award from GCSAA and I collected my own little piece of hardware when I picked up the Kaminski Award from the good folks at Golf Course Industry and Aquatrols.  Thank you all for your kind congratulatory words, it was an honor to both represent Carolina Golf Club at GIS and accept this recognition knowing it's all because of how we communicate.
You Like Me!

Upon returning from GIS I immediately walked the course to inspect conditions and assess where things stood considering the cold pattern we had endured.  Overall I was very pleased and shared my observations in a string of tweets linked below.  

Since that time we've been busy applying all our pre-emergent herbicide to the tees, fairways, and rough for management of unwanted crabgrass and goosegrass.  
The team has also been in the process of tidying up mulched areas on the golf course, ensuring we have a fresh edge and smooth transition from turf to mulch under our hardwood trees and pine straw underneath the conifers.  Of course if this warmer weather continues much longer we might have to think about mowing bermudagrass turf, I can't believe I just typed that in February.  Such is life in the Transition Zone.

One final closing note, yesterday I received a message from a former employee.  Hernee Gift Palabrica was one of our International Interns from Philippines and worked here the entire 2015 season.  Since returning home to Philippines he has been working at Iloilo Golf and Country Club, the oldest golf course in Philippines built by English and Scottish expatriates in 1907!  
Hernee Gift Palabrica (L) and Joeven Guilaran (R)
Outstanding Contributions!

Seems Gift has ascended to the role of Assistant Ground Supervisor and received some accolades of his own from the club.  I'm extremely happy and proud of him for the accomplishment, but even more happy he maintains our connection and shared his good fortune with me and the team.  Well done Gift!

See you on the course,

Matthew Wharton, CGCS, MG

Friday, February 2, 2018

Cold Start, GIS, & Texas Two-Step!

Hello and welcome to The Greenkeeper!  Today is Friday, February 2nd and happy Groundhog Day everyone.  I wish I could tell you the cold start to 2018 was over and an early spring was around the corner, but I'm hearing reports the groundhog saw his shadow which means six more weeks of winter. :(  Speaking of cold starts did you know January 2018 was the coldest January in Charlotte since 2014.  And although the Januaries of 2010, 2011 and 2014 were all colder than this year, the drastic difference between this year and last (January 2017) was one of vast proportion.
Mean Avg Jan Temps - Charlotte 1879-2018
The area circled in red indicates the mean average January temperatures for the years 2008 - 2018.  Just look at the far right and notice the drastic plunge from Jan 2017 to Jan 2018.  No wonder rounds played were down nearly 50% from a year ago (589 vs 1153).

Unfortunately it doesn't appear to be warming up anytime soon either as long term forecasts are expecting a return of cold, Canadian air to make its way into the eastern half of the U.S. for a significant portion of February.  Considering Feb 2017 was one of the all-time warmest Februaries in Charlotte history I guess this month's graph may eventually look similar to the one above, at least the course should be well rested when spring finally arrives.  

If there is a silver lining to be found within this cold winter, the lack of activity has allowed the team to accomplish several important course care items without undue delay.  Recently the entire network of cart paths (over 4 miles) were edged and the overgrowth removed.  We have been busy raising and leveling irrigation heads around greens, patching all tee and fairway divots, and making selective herbicide applications to remove unwanted winter grasses from our dormant bermudagrass playing surfaces.  Later this month we will apply our annual pre-emergent herbicide to all tees, fairways, and rough to prevent crabgrass and goosegrass from infiltrating our playing surfaces this coming spring and summer.  As you can see, our work is never done.

This coming Monday I will be heading off to the annual Golf Industry Show in San Antonio, Texas where I will attend accredited lectures and seminars at the education conference, view the largest gathering of exhibitors to discuss the latest products and services in turf and facility care at the trade show, and represent my chapter, Carolinas GCSA as official voting delegate at the GCSAA Annual Meeting and Election.  But despite the busy schedule next week there is one fun thing that's going to take place.
Once again Golf Course Industry magazine and Aquatrols are hosting the Super Social Media Awards and this year I was selected as the recipient of the Kaminski Award for Leadership.  I was totally shocked when I received the news for I have never thought of my social media use and communication efforts as anything more than my means of conversing with you about Carolina Golf Club.  I had no idea those efforts have made a positive impact on others to the point they would bestow recognition upon me.  It's very humbling to say the least.  GCI's Senior Editor, Guy Cipriano wrote a very nice piece about my receiving this award and I shared it on Twitter when first announced a couple weeks back.  In case you missed it you can find it here.  America's Greenkeeper.

In other but related news, the Greenkeeping Team at the Home of Golf (St. Andrews Links Trust) are also being recognized for their communication and social media prowess with an award in the category of Best Use of Social Media.  Recently their Director of Greenkeeping, Gordon Moir sat down for an interview to discuss the type of work typically accomplished on the historic links in winter months (there's something needing to be done no matter where your course is located) and how their blog, has helped them share their message of environmentalism around the globe.  The podcast interview is just under twenty-three minutes, and Gordon does possess a Scottish accent, but if you love the Old Course it's definitely an educational listen.  Hope you enjoy!  CLICK HERE 

Well, that's all for now.  Time to prep the course as much as possible today as we prepare for a bitterly cold night tonight in advance of tomorrow's Saturday Shotgun.  Sunday's forecast appears to be another wet one so maybe more Super Bowl viewing than golf.  Feel free to follow my adventures in San Antonio next week on Twitter and I'll be back to recap soon.

See you on the course,

Matthew Wharton, CGCS, MG