Friday, October 19, 2018


Hello and welcome to The Greenkeeper!  Today is Friday, October 19th and we are in the middle of the third of three rounds played today in our annual Fall Member-Guest.  Tomorrow is the final two rounds followed by the Shootout to determine this year's champions.  Once again we are hosting a major event on the heels of a tropical system and you wouldn't know it by looking at the golf course.  Although this year we've endured those weather related challenges, we've been blessed to come through each with minimal impact.
But I'm not here to talk about the weather, or even the golf course.  In a twist I thought I would share something golf related of personal interest with you.  Over the past few days I saw not one, but two things that had me thinking about days gone by.  You see, although I'm not that far removed from my baby face days, I am old enough to have played this game with liquid center, wound balls that would smile back at you if hit a little thin.  The other evening I stumbled across this tweet about the Tommy Armour 845 irons and I couldn't resist reposting it with a comment.  
I still remember exactly where I was when I had a conversation with my old boss about getting new clubs that lead me to purchase the 845's.  My first cousin had recently grown into his late father's Ping Eye 2's and started to get the better of me on the course, I needed more forgiveness if I was going to keep up.

Next I ran across a video from down under.  Former touring professional Mike Clayton with the help of Mark Hayes and current touring professional, Lucas Herbert conducted a semi-scientific test with old and new golf balls using both old and new equipment.  Now this video is a little lengthy (about 15 minutes) but it's interesting to hear the commentary from Lucas as he is experiencing the differences required to hit the older equipment versus the new and Mike Clayton as he explains to Lucas there was no such thing as club fitting back in the day.  Good stuff for my fellow geeks when you have time to check it out. The Great Distance Debate 

And just when I thought I was through reminiscing I received a package out of the blue from dear friend and former college classmate, Paul Van Buren.  Paul is superintendent at the Kanawha Club in Manakin-Sabot, Virginia outside Richmond.  You can imagine my surprise when I opened a box to find unopened sleeves of Titleist Tour Balatas staring back at me.
What can I say, sometimes it's nice to revisit the past as I believe it helps us keep a healthy perspective on the present.  Thanks for letting me reminisce and I look forward to the next time I see you on the course.
Flashback Friday! 

See you on the course,

Matthew Wharton, CGCS, MG

Thursday, October 11, 2018


Hello and welcome to The Greenkeeper!  Today is Thursday, October 11th and the sound of heavy rains from Tropical Storm Michael echo off the roof top of the Turf Care Center.  It has been less than four weeks since Florence dropped over seven inches rain on Carolina Golf Club and caused severe flash flooding in other parts of the Queen City, not to mention the devastation she imparted on the North Carolina coast and places east.  Michael made landfall early yesterday afternoon as a Category 4 Major Hurricane wreaking havoc along the Florida Panhandle.  My heart aches for all those in its path.
Hurricane Michael
Similar to Florence, we've known about Michael and his projected path across the southeast and through the Carolinas for several days as indicated below by this tweet from Brad Panovich this past Monday.
And we've been preparing the golf course for his arrival to the best of our abilities.  It's just this time the end goal is slightly different.  Florence was arriving prior to us co-hosting a national championship and there were certain parameters we needed to meet for our friends with the USGA (mowing heights, green speeds, surface firmness, etc.)  In case you've forgotten CLICK HERE for the link to my post on the morning she arrived.  

In this case we are in a transition as we are attempting to ready the course for the coming winter and subsequent dormant season for our bermudagrass tees, fairways, and rough.  Now don't get me wrong, tomorrow is Men's Guest Day and Fall Member-Guest is next week and we are still striving to produce the best conditions possible for you and your guest's enjoyment, but considering we are nearly six weeks into meteorological fall it's almost past time to prepare warm-season turf for hibernation.  Yesterday we mowed all closely mowed areas and wrapped up a single mow on the rough for this week.
Assuming the golf course is playable tomorrow barring damage from wind and/or debris it will most likely be Cart Path Only for our Guest Day event.  It will also most likely be the first of next week before some areas of the golf course (I'm referring to tees, fairways, and rough) see a mower again.  Thus we will use these several days in between to raise mowing heights on tees and fairways as we do each and every autumn to assist with plant health as we approach winter dormancy.  

That's right, every year the height of cut (HOC) is raised on tees and fairways as we exit summer and enter into the fall golf season.  By increasing the HOC we have more leaf material for photosynthesis which in turn means the plant can produce more food for storage prior to hibernation.  Most year's we begin this process immediately following the Club Championship usually contested around Labor Day, but this year we were required to maintain those lower HOC's through the U.S. Mid-Am and with the unseasonable warm temperatures lingering right up until now, we are just managing to find this opportunity to make the transition.  We have managed to recently complete our annual fall pre-emergent herbicide treatments to all bermudagrass areas for the prevention of unwanted poa annua this winter and next up is preventative fungicide treatments to tees and fairways for Spring Dead Spot control, but the soil temperatures are still too warm to initiate treatment as a result of the unseasonable warm temperatures we've endured lately.

Did you know that September 2018 was the third warmest September in Charlotte and warmest since way back in the 1920's!
Also, the unseasonable warm temperatures continued right into October as we managed to reach at least 90 degrees on October 4th and 5th bringing our total for this year up to 74!
Needless to say, the team and I, and the turf eagerly await the arrival of seasonable temperatures.  It's been a long, warm season this year and I believe everyone is ready for a cool down - and lower humidity.  It appears once we escort Michael through town today Autumn is ready to knock on the door.  Everyone please stay safe, pray the power stays on, and I look forward to seeing each of you again soon.

Brad Panovich

See you on the course,

Matthew Wharton, CGCS, MG

Monday, October 1, 2018

Mid-Am Recap, A Lot of Fun!

Hello and welcome to The Greenkeeper!  Today is Monday, October 1st and although the sting of another Ryder Cup defeat is fresh in everyone's mind, my staff and I are still on cloud nine after successfully co-hosting the United States Mid-Amateur Championship.  Can you believe in the past 15 days we went from enduring Tropical Storm Florence and cleaning up the golf course to grooming and providing championship conditions to test 264 of the best mid-amateurs from around the world.  In a word, amazing.  

Following Florence* there was much to be done to get Carolina back in shape.  You may recall from last time CLICK HERE I talked at great length about our preparation on the front end in an effort to encourage the golf course on the back end.  I'm happy to report our applications and plans worked to perfection, but we also had extra help.    

Jerry Morris showed up very early on Monday morning following Florence.  I jokingly told him he should start ball hawking in the irrigation reservoir to save time but he said he wasn't here to look for balls he was here to work and wanted to know what he could do to help.  In fact Jerry showed up and helped remove storm debris each of the next two days as well, and when he showed up again on Thursday morning after official practice rounds had started we had to politely turn him away.  Thank you for everything Jerry!  You were a real trooper and an inspiration.

John Archer also showed up on the Monday following Florence.  I spotted someone blowing storm debris into piles in the clubhouse parking lot, then realized it wasn't one of my staff members.  John had arrived and started working getting things cleaned up.  Later that same day he and Senior Assistant Matt Claunch made quick work of the large pine tree on No. 5 that fell over during the storm.  Thank you John, that is some level of enthusiasm.
Greens Chairman Ed Oden and Former Chairman (2009-2010) Rob Campbell, Jr. wanted to help and made the effort to come out and assist where possible.  The storm cleanup efforts were pushing us behind schedule with other things we needed to accomplish in the three days the course was closed for tournament preparation.  Ed's presence and support was a big help and I greatly appreciate him going the extra mile. Rob also pitched in where possible driving my truck across town to pick up signage and assisting with installation of gallery rope and stakes.  They both continued their support of the greenkeeping team throughout the week volunteering to do whatever needed and on occasion attended our daily Agronomy Meetings with the USGA to get a behind the scenes look at true tournament preparation.  Thanks Ed and Rob!

Of course I am most proud of my staff and the fact they delivered on providing the USGA with true championship conditions that withstood the efforts of the competitors.  Only twelve of the 264 managed to break par and the low round was a three under 68 shot by Medalist Stephen Behr of Florence, SC.  The stroke average over the two days of play was 76.229 with the 397 yard par 4 11th ranking the most difficult with a stroke average of 4.637 (Firm Greens).
Evening Fairway Mowing

Number 3

But one of the things I will always remember about the 2018 U.S. Mid-Am was the "Red Army" lead by General Maffitt and General Cleveland.  I was absolutely blown away by the energy, effort, and enthusiasm of so many members each and every day I was moved to tears.  I spoke with my peer at Charlotte Country Club, John Szklinski and he stated the same thing.  To see the very people that employ us give their time and work so hard to make this the best championship ever was truly awe inspiring.  You definitely made me proud.
Will Barr (Scoring) and Co-Chairman Ben Maffitt
General Manger Billy Cleveland Does It All!
All Smiles!
Greens Chairman Ed Oden
Club President William Smith Directs Traffic!

What can I possibly say about Brett Boner and Stephen Woodard that hasn't already been stated.  In case you missed it, Julie Williams from did an amazing piece on them CLICK HERE prior to the beginning of match play.  She may or may not have been tipped off by a local golf course superintendent who happens to be their biggest fan not related.  ;)
Brett Boner Begins Play on No. 1 
Stephen Woodard Begins Play on No. 10
Anyway, I couldn't be more proud of both men for qualifying, playing in front of the home town fans and advancing to match play.  Then Brett Boner makes a run so deep that turns a magical moment into one that none of us will ever forget.  It was so cool for me to see so many of you each afternoon at Charlotte Country Club as we walked the fairways with our man to lend our emotional support.  Who will ever forget that semifinal match with 2016 Champion Stewart Hagestad and the resounding fist pump on the last!
One of these days there will be a group of members sitting on the patio drinking cold ones and sharing stories about Carolina Golf Club, and someone is going to say, "Remember that year we co-hosted that USGA Championship and Brett nearly won the damn thing!  That sure was a lot of fun!"  
Chris Hughes on the Bag!

Yes it was, Carolina.  Yes it was!

See you on the course,

Matthew Wharton, CGCS, MG

*For a brief recap as reported by on how both tournament courses were impacted by Florence CLICK HERE.