Thursday, December 20, 2018

Breath of Fresh Air & Home for the Holidays!

Hello and welcome to The Greenkeeper!  Today is Thursday, December 20th and it was an honor once again to join the Board of Governors and the past presidents of Carolina Golf Club for the annual Past President's Dinner on Tuesday evening.  I truly believe it is one of the greatest traditions that makes Carolina special and it's always nice to join the group to reflect on and discuss the events of the past year.  Obviously the U.S. Mid-Am was a large topic of discussion and the overwhelming sense of pride of a job well done by all was great to experience.

Having said that, I'm sorry to rain on everyone's parade but more heavy rain is expected today. :(  In fact, the annual Christmas Balls event was cancelled because of today's forecast.  LAST TIME I mentioned how 2018 keeps throwing weather related punches and I thought our winter storm 
(the snow was beautiful by the way) might be the round house to end the year.  Seems Mother Nature had other plans as we received a deluge of 1.38 inches rain last weekend (on top of the melted snow) and now just as the course is beginning to turn the corner as it relates to carts on the fairways we have another batch of southern moisture headed our way.
This is why my team and I busted our you-know-whats this past Monday to vent all greens.  The needle tine operation (same venting we typically do throughout the summer months) was performed to assist with recovery of existing saturated conditions, but also help our putting greens withstand the next batch coming today.  In other words, let's create more space for the water to go and help get air into the root zone.  Roots grow in the pockets BETWEEN soil particles so creating air space is important when Mother Nature rains on your parade too frequently.

We also made a little fertility application to the greens and applied a light sand topdressing.  We followed that with two days of rolling to smooth the surface and correct the tufting that typically occurs with new tines and the greens are once again good to go.  Hopefully they will breathe a little easier this time around.

One thing that didn't get mentioned last time, but I have certainly discussed at great length recently on Twitter is our annual rainfall total.  Since completing the restoration in 2008 on the heels of the worst drought in NC history we have received roughly 40 inches rainfall yearly.  Our wettest year during that span was 2009 when we received 54.77 inches (wet).  The rain event last weekend pushed 2018 past 2009 as our new wettest year with a grand total of 55.16 inches as we head into today's wet weather event.  

So, if you've been thinking that perhaps it rains nearly every weekend or just before of late, you're not imagining things.  And unfortunately, with the weak El Nino in place that typically translates to a southern jet stream track in the winter bringing moisture up from the gulf and it could continue to be cold, wet and dreary for the foreseeable future considering the first official day of astrological winter is tomorrow.  Good Grief!
That's all for now, grab your hat, coat, umbrella, boots, and whatever else you need to survive the elements today and tomorrow.  It's almost time for our annual trek to the mountains of southwest Virginia to enjoy the Christmas holiday with our families (I can almost hear Perry Como now).  We depart tomorrow but we'll be back soon and remember if you're playing golf on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day be leery of arriving too early with morning lows forecasted in the 30's.  I should be back in time for the next big rain event prior to next weekend (facepalm emoji here).  I honestly believe we are going to surpass 60 inches precipitation before 2019 arrives.  Maybe it's not too late to ask Santa for some new rain gear?  

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays CGC,

Matthew Wharton, CGCS, MG

Friday, December 7, 2018

One Last Punch to the Gut?

Hello and welcome to The Greenkeeper!  Today is Friday, December 7th and with the recent passing of President George H.W. Bush and today being the 77th anniversary of the day that will forever live in infamy (Pearl Harbor Day), I feel a little out of place posting a public service announcement regarding the winter storm watch in effect for our area.  I certainly mean no disrespect to the amazing life 41 lead, nor to the tragic events that eventually encouraged the United States of America to enter World War II, and as a lover of history I will be happy to discuss one or both with any of you at another time.  Right now I just want to make sure everyone is aware things might get interesting around here before the weekend wraps up.

If you had the chance to listen to my radio interview with Katrek and Maginnes last month (ICYMI) you may recall hearing me talk a little about 2018 starting off with a cold winter causing winter injury to bermudagrass and damage across the Carolinas.  Then we had some record warmth and a prolonged period of dry weather, followed by two hurricanes in Florence and Michael.  In other words, 2018 has been like a boxer that never stopped throwing punches.  And just as we can see the light at the end of the tunnel for 2018 (only 24 more days in the year), looks like 2018 may have saved its haymaker for last.
Now the above tweet was three days ago and at that time I guess you could say it was still too early to tell exactly what the impact in Charlotte might be.  But by later that same day Brad upgraded the snowmeters for both areas (Charlotte from 2 to 3 and the Mountains from 5 to 7.
IMPORTANT - The snowmeters used above are not forecast accumulation totals but rather a measure of confidence that a winter storm will impact our area.  
Again, those announcements happened three days ago, and when you start talking about snow in Charlotte some folks get a little excited while others are less enthused.  And then there are those that just freak out and clean the local Harris Teeters out of milk and bread.
Hopefully you took the time to watch Brad's video linked above from yesterday.  The important thing is public safety and that is why I am taking the time to post this update today.  Like Brad I want you to be #WeatherAware and at least have the information to make informed decisions.  What we like to say in your golf course maintenance department is, "Prepare for the Worst, Hope for the Best!".  With that philosophy we are never under prepared and things usually do not turn out as bad as they possibly can.

With that said, what we know now is the area is currently under a Winter Storm Watch as issued by the National Weather Service.
The timing of the event appears to be late Saturday and extending into Monday.  As per normal, Charlotte is located squarely in an area of uncertainty with regards to exactly what type of precipitation it receives.  Will we get snow, sleet, ice, freezing rain, mix, rain, etc.?  I feel for you Brad!  The important thing to know is something is going to fall from the sky, and you just need to be prepared for the potential of a disruption to our normal schedules for possibly a day or even more.  Let's certainly hope it doesn't come to that, but if it does hopefully you will be able to say you were ready. #WeatherAware

On the bright side, winter storms usually do not stick around in the Queen City for prolonged periods, that's one of the reasons we chose to reside here, right. ;)  And when this one is gone we will have the golf course ready for you to enjoy once more.  Stay warm and stay safe Carolina.

See you on the course,

Matthew Wharton, CGCS, MG