Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Trees, Pops and ICYMI!

Hello and welcome to The Greenkeeper!  Today is Tuesday, April 9th and I have much to report since my last update.  For the second year in a row, March was colder than February.  After completing my degree I worked for superintendent Rick Owens, CGCS at Augustine Golf Club in Stafford, Virginia.  He used to say it didn't matter whether you aerated bentgrass greens on March 1st, March 15th or April 1st... they will heal April 15th.  Some years when it's warmer than average that isn't the case, but I have definitely heard Rick's words in my head in 2019.
The last twenty-one days of March were not only one of our driest periods in the past six months, it was also colder than average.  I counted a dozen mornings the low temperature was below 40 F and there were two mornings during that stretch it dipped below 30 F.  Thankfully it looks like spring has finally arrived in the Queen City as we had our first 80 F day yesterday in advance of a strong line of storms.  The storms dropped just over one inch of rainfall on freshly fertilized tees, fairways and rough.  Call it serendipity or perfect timing, either way we need to mow as soon as the course dries sufficiently.  

In other news, you may have noticed a few trees have been removed recently and several of you have inquired as to exactly the reason(s) why.  The Greens Committee with the blessing of the Board of Governors and having consulted with our architect is implementing a long-range tree management plan primarily focused on identifying trees that either pose a risk to human safety and/or adversely impacts turf health.  For example, the large oak nearest the small putting green was in declining health, even requiring a last second removal of dead limbs prior to last year's U.S. Mid-Am.  The location and lean of that tree posed significant risk to our members and guests and thus was removed.  And the group of pines in the natural area to the right of the 3rd green cast shadows on the green which contributed to lengthier frost delays.  
Large Declining Oak Near Practice Green
Shadows No Longer On Putting Surface No. 3

Yesterday we removed a large Willow Oak at the bottom of the hill adjacent to the cart path on Hole No. 6.  This tree had significantly impacted our ability to grow quality turf for a number of years.  We started with a ring of mulch and thin Bermudagrass just under the drip line before establishing fine fescue last season.  The natural surface flow of rainfall and runoff made growing grass around the base of that tree extremely difficult and with it removed we will now have the ability to grow healthy Bermudagrass which can better tolerate golf car traffic as that is the preferred location for accessing the fairway.  Not to mention it also brings the right fairway bunker into clearer view and prominence.
Willow Oak No. 6
At this juncture we only have two more pine trees scheduled for removal along with a transplanting from our nursery to replace a tree in decline.  Tree management isn't simply tree removal.  Once that is complete we will have all stumps ground and install new turf as the season gets underway.

It is Masters Week and that means our annual shootout this Saturday will be an exciting time for everyone participating.  The Masters is my favorite tournament of the year for a multitude of reasons and this year is no different.  However, this Saturday will also be a somber one for me and my team as we attend the memorial service for our fallen teammate, Cleother Young, Jr.  

By now many of you know Cleo, or Pops as he was affectionately known by the staff passed away last Wednesday, April 3rd while performing his normal duties on the course.  He was an integral member of my team and the first new hire I made when we began rebuilding the staff during Phase IV of the restoration back in 2008.  For the past eleven years Pops performed a variety of tasks to ensure the golf course always looked and played its best, and he looked after us as much as he looked after the course.
Cleother Young, Jr. 1953-2019

I am humbled by the outpouring of kindness and support you have shown to Cleo's family and I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart.  Your generosity means the world to me and my staff and we greatly appreciate your thoughtfulness and well wishes for Cleo's wife Kathy and their family during this difficult time.  Memorial Service Details 

This past Saturday evening I texted Stephen Woodard to congratulate him on a fine first round in this year's Carolinas Mid-Amateur.  Friday's first round was canceled due to inclement weather and Stephen was only one shot out of first place following his fine play on Saturday.  Stephen texted back to say thanks and offer his condolences for Cleo as he received the member email announcing his passing.  I encouraged Stephen to go out and win one for Team CGC to which he replied, "I like that idea".  

Well, with everything we've experienced the past six days it sure was thrilling to get word late Sunday evening that Stephen's final round 70 and 36-hole total of -5 was good enough to secure the victory!  Congratulations Stephen!  Well played!  CLICK HERE for the write-up on Amateurgolf.com.
Nice Hat and even Nicer Smile Champ!

And one other thing, if you don't follow on Twitter you may have missed a thread I shared March 30th commemorating an exhibition match played here in 1932 featuring Walter Hagen.  I think you can access here via Kris's retweet.

Enjoy The Masters everyone and Rest in Peace Pops!

Matthew Wharton, CGCS, MG