Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Most Thankful & Radio Gaga!

Hello and welcome to The Greenkeeper!  Today is Wednesday, November 21st and I want to quickly remind everyone although the club is closed tomorrow for Thanksgiving the golf course is available (walking only) for those wanting to squeeze in a quick round before dinner, or perhaps you need to "walk off" some of that turkey and stuffing later in the day. Either way I hope you enjoy your time on the course should you choose to come out.  The temperature tonight is expected to reach the mid 30's which means there could be some frost.  As is customary I will make my annual inspection through the course in the early hours and if no frost is present, and nothing else out of place I will retreat back home to a house filled with family and cheer.  If there is some frost you'll find me lingering behind the clubhouse just to ensure any over eager golfers do not cause turf damage while frost is present.  If you come early maybe I'll see you but if we don't cross paths this year, Happy Thanksgiving!

It's hard to believe another year has past since my annual Thanksgiving list.  I penned my first list in 2010 and I enjoy taking time to reflect on the previous growing season.  Believe me, I am well aware my lists pale in comparison to the lists penned annually in the Charlotte Observer by Ron Green, Sr. but to me it wouldn't be Thanksgiving at Carolina without a look back at some memorable moments.  This year, in no particular order I'm most thankful for:
  • Tommy Fleetwood - The Englishman definitely has hair I dearly wanted in my high school days and he is not afraid to go low.  His final round 63 in the U.S. Open may have only brought him within one stroke of the trophy, but it may also be the round of the year.
  • Francesco Molinari - This man was the worldwide player of the year in my book despite two major championship victories by Brooks Koepka.  Francesco won the European Tour's flagship event in May (The BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth), then won Tiger's event on the PGA Tour, the Quicken Loans National at TPC Avenel in early July, then held off Tiger Woods.  Yes, that Tiger Woods to win The Open Championship at Carnoustie!  
    Champion Golfer of the Year!
  • Moliwood - Speaking of Tommy and Francesco, their Ryder Cup pairing and subsequent "bromance" was truly something to behold.  They elevated their games to take down every team our captain, Jim Furyk threw their way.  The European Tour does a great job with their social media communications and they played up the pairing in a way that only European humor can.  It was definitely fun to watch and funny to follow.
  • Tiger Woods - Speaking of Tiger Woods, whether you love him or hate him, there is no denying that Tiger's presence on the PGA Tour this season spiked attendance and viewership.  As some like to say he doesn't move the needle, he is the needle.  I wasn't a huge fan early in his career, but over time I came to appreciate his talent and greatness, and then he was gone.  The struggles he encountered since winning five times in 2013 even had me believing he would not be back.  Watching golf with Tiger in contention this year was fun, thanks Tiger!
  • Brad Panovich - If you haven't noticed by now I'm a huge fan of BP!  I closely monitor the weather because it directly impacts everything we do on the golf course each and every day.  I've paid attention to a lot of different weather broadcasters throughout my career and Brad Panovich is certainly the best, because he's a meteorologist.  And more importantly, he cares.  Whether it is forecasting long streaks of mild weather or inclement storms like Florence and Michael, I rely closely on Brad for his accurate predictions.  I still owe you a round of golf Brad, probably more than one if I'm being truthful.  I promise we'll get it done.
  • New Sod - Speaking of weather, the period between Dec 1, 2017 through Jan 20, 2018 was the coldest in Charlotte since 2010-2011 and the harsh temperatures took a toll on bermudagrass in heavy traffic and shaded areas.  We sustained the most winter injury since the spring of 2015 and thanks to our grass suppliers and the efforts of the Greenkeeping team, we were able to replace those damaged areas with new turf.
    Modern Turf
  • My Staff - Speaking of the Greenkeeping team, these guys were true rock stars this year!  Whether it was working their you-know-what's off in harsh environments to producing the more difficult conditioned golf course as measured by scoring average ;) during the U.S. Mid-Am, these guys really impressed me this year, and hopefully you too.  Thank you guys!  You're the best!
    Best Staff in Charlotte
  • The USGA - Speaking of the U.S. Mid-Am, thanks to the United States Golf Association for providing us the opportunity to showcase Carolina Golf Club on the national stage.  What a treat it was to see the golf course adorned with banners and signage signifying the importance of this event.  It's hard to believe we started preparing for this moment shortly after Tournament Director Bill McCarthy first saw Carolina Golf Club in April 2015 and now the event heads west to Colorado Golf Club next year.  Time flies! 
    United States Golf Association
  • The Red Army - If not for the tireless efforts and enthusiasm of you we would not have been successful.  I was truly awed and inspired by the enormous support of the volunteers under the leadership of Ben Maffitt.  At the volunteer reception last month I shared the following sentiments: It is truly an amazing experience to witness the people that employ you work so hard with such tireless effort, energy and enthusiasm.  You made me proud!  Thank you!
     (L-R) Will Barr & Ben Maffitt
  • John Szklinski - It was a real treat to work closely on this year's U.S. Mid-Am with my peer from Charlotte Country Club, John Szklinski.  John and his team went above and beyond to ensure me and my staff need only focus on the golf course as they supplied many items necessary for both venues.  The meetings, phone conversations and text messages the past two years brought us even closer together and I'm proud to call John my friend.  Thanks John!
    John Szklinski
  • Stephen Woodard - The former Greens Chairman holed a 20 foot putt on the first playoff hole outside Richmond, VA to qualify for the 2018 U.S. Mid-Am.  Stephen would go on to easily advance (although the final hole didn't go smoothly) through the stroke-play portion of the event to the field of 64.  Stephen won his first match advancing to the round of 32 and nearly made it to the sweet 16 losing 1 down on the 18th hole at Charlotte Country Club in his second match.  Thanks Stephen for making us all proud!
    Stephen Woodard
  • Brett Boner - And speaking of making us proud, Brett worked so hard preparing for this year's U.S. Mid-Am.  He and Stephen partnered earlier this year to win The Anderson at Winged Foot Golf Club in June and then on the same August day Stephen was surviving the playoff to qualify for the U.S. Mid-Am, Brett was WINNING medalist honors at his qualifying tournament in Philadelphia!  Brett told me he wanted to make a deep run, and boy did he ever.  Who will ever forget that magical finish in the semifinals against 2016 champion Stewart Hagestad.  Although the clock struck midnight before we wanted, it was one magical season for Brett and Carolina Golf Club.  And oh yeah, he won his second Charlotte City Amateur Championship earlier this year too. :)
    Thanks Brett!
  • Jerry Morris and John Archer - I would be remiss if I didn't recognize the efforts these two members of Carolina Golf Club displayed in the face of a fast approaching major championship on the heels of Tropical Storm Florence.  They both gave their time and energy to assist my team cleaning up the golf course and grounds and were a huge help in us being successful with limited time.  Thank you both, you're angels!
  • Carolina Golf Club - I truly am blessed to be entrusted to care for your golf course, and I am thankful for the friendship and support you provide me each year to do so!  From the Board of Governors to General Manager Billy Cleveland to Greens Chairman Ed Oden I could not ask for better leadership, guidance and support.  Thanks for your trust and confidence, and I look forward to an even better conditioned golf course in 2019.
    With Mr. Cleveland During U.S. Mid-Am
  • My Friends - One thing that is truly special about the golf course industry or turf business is the relationships and friendships that are forged.  I've been blessed to make many close friends in the business and I always cherish the opportunities we spend together.  Taking the time to network and share experiences makes us all better superintendents.  Thanks guys, you're the best friends I could ever have!
    Fellow Carolinas GCSA BOD Members
    Fellow Hokies, SBI Alumni, Swag & Best Mates!
    Mr. & Mrs. Strutt from England!
  • My Family - 2018 was a special year in our family as our little princess, who isn't so little anymore and her teammates also made a deep run.  Our granddaughter Haley was the starting catcher on her high school's varsity softball team as a freshman.  They won the District tournament, were Runners-up in the Regional tournament and advanced to the Virginia State 2A Semifinals where they suffered a heartbreaking 2-1 loss in 10 innings.  I've never been more proud of her in my life, she has grown into an amazing young woman, I guess she must take after her grandmother! :)  Who just also happens to be the glue that bonds us tight.
    2018 Lebanon Pioneers!
    Don't Run on Her, Seriously!
    My Princess!

May God Bless and Happy Thanksgiving Carolina Golf Club!   

See you on the course,

Matthew Wharton, CGCS, MG

P.S., Thank you to General Manager Billy Cleveland for sharing the announcement yesterday of my recent election as President of the Carolinas Golf Course Superintendents Association at last week's annual Conference and Show.  And thank you to those emails filled with congratulatory remarks and encouragement I received yesterday.  It is a huge honor to lead my peers, but an even bigger honor to represent Carolina Golf Club in the process.
I had the good fortune to speak live on PGA Tour Radio with Brian Katrek and John Maginnes last Wednesday as the newly elected president.  If you would like to hear the interview you can find it HERE.


Friday, November 9, 2018

Too Tough!

Hello and welcome to The Greenkeeper!  Today is Friday, November 9th and Tough Day has been rescheduled again due to inclement weather!  :(  If anyone wants to play a little golf today they are welcome to do so, just be sure and bundle up as a cold, wet day is waiting to greet you.  We'll try again for Tough Day on November 30th.  If you're looking for a silver lining to the wet, gray skies outside, hole locations for Tough Day are already selected and marked, so maybe you can find them and get in a little practice between now and November 30th.  ;)

After a warmer than average October, the pattern has changed and we are now on what seems like the constant receiving end of moisture traveling along the southern portion of the jet stream.  Since the beginning of November we've had measurable rainfall 7 times totaling over 1.6 inches and as a result the fairways have become saturated restricting golf car access.  If it seems to you Cart Path Only restrictions are more frequent and/or last longer this time of year you're not imagining.  Yes, the golf course does drain well but when soil temperatures drop water infiltration rates slow.  Also, the shorter day length and lower sun angle this time of year greatly reduce the rate of evaporation compared to summer.  Now add the fact bermudagrass growth is slowing (uses less water) as the plant continues preparation for winter dormancy and you begin to better understand how one inch of rain can limit fairway access for a few days this time of year compared to summer.
Unfortunately, this could possibly just be a sign of things to come this winter.  Long-range forecasts are arriving and it looks like a weak El Nino is setting up in the equatorial Pacific.  What does that mean for us you ask, well typically El Nino winters contain above average precipitation in the southeast.
And if the recent wet weather isn't enough, believe it or not we are expected to receive our first true cold air of the season (I'm talking winter like temperatures) next week.  In fact, we may have our first FREEZE as early as Sunday morning, and take a close look at Wednesday and Thursday of next week in the 10-Day Forecast depicted below.
Brad Panovich, WCNC
I'm thinking it's a safe bet the bermudagrass will be dormant brown by next weekend.  If you're looking for some good news, I am hearing there should be a return to milder temperatures sometime within the last 10 days of November before winter locks in for good, so we will still have some opportunity to enjoy fall golf at Carolina.

Recent course work includes a needle tine venting of greens and a fertilizer application (18-9-18) to boost root growth and development as we head into winter.  Plant protectant applications for the prevention and management of Spring Dead Spot have been made to all bermudagrass tees and fairways, with necessary follow-up apps scheduled for the week after Thanksgiving.  You may recall CLICK HERE we already wrapped up fall preemergent applications for the prevention and management of poa annua on all bermudagrass areas.  Our collars and immediate surrounds require a follow-up application and that is scheduled for next week.

Also happening next week is the 56th Carolinas Golf Course Superintendents Association Conference and Show.  Held annually at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center, the show consists of our annual golf championship, two days of accredited education and the largest regional trade show in the golf industry.  Senior Assistant Matt Claunch will accompany me for three days while we leave the crew in the capable hands of Assistants Eris Sosnowski and Hunter Patterson.  Based on the forecast above looks like the team will be busy with leaf removal and course cleanup.  It is that time of year.  As Vice-President of Carolinas GCSA, I am nominated to become the 46th President of the association during the annual business meeting on Wednesday, November 14th.  It is a huge honor to be trusted by my peers, but it's an even bigger honor to represent Carolina Golf Club.  

Before I go, I would be remiss if I failed to mention on this very day the one thing that is most important to me on this very special day!  Happy 22nd Anniversary Mrs. Greenkeeper!  Thank you for all your love and support, you're the greatest!  
Bonus points awarded to those that correctly name the two courses in the collage above.  Double points if you know the holes.  Hint: they share the same hole number.  Leave in the comments below.

See you on the course,

Matthew Wharton, CGCS, MG