Thursday, May 30, 2019

Aeration Week and New Faces!

Hello and welcome to The Greenkeeper!  Today is Thursday, May 30th and I wanted to briefly touch base with you on what is going to take place on the golf course next week.  By now you should have received an official Club email with lots of information which also contained a message from Greens Chairman Ed Oden.  Hopefully his message answered any questions some of you may still have about the recent tree removal, if not I will be happy to speak with you the next time we cross paths.

Ed also took the time to explain the thought process behind Aeration Week.  In the past we always aerated greens in the spring (March) and fall (September), with a third, small-tine aeration in early June to bridge the gap between the two major operations.  Last year with the U.S. Mid-Am taking place the third week of September we were not able to aerate that time of year resulting in us moving the September aeration into the early June calendar slot.  Subsequently we did not aerate greens again until March of this year (9 months).  

The feedback last fall was overwhelmingly positive and thus the decision was made to continue with that model going forward.  What is different this year is the fairway aeration that normally takes place after Father's Day is being moved up to coincide with the greens aeration.  The thought behind overlapping the cultural practices is to minimize the course disruption to the membership.  In other words everything heals at the same time versus one area recovers before another is disrupted.  We'll give it a go next week and we welcome your feedback.  

So exactly what can you expect when the course reopens for play on Saturday, June 8th?  All greens will have been solid tine aerated and topdressed, tees will have been core aerated and topdressed, approaches and fairways will have been vertical mowed, solid tine aerated and topdressed.  We will also be aerating and topdressing the Range Tees, Short Game Area and Target Greens.  With the practice areas scheduled to reopen mid-week we will be targeting those areas Monday and Tuesday along with the putting greens.

This also means if you like videos of topdressers slinging sand or slow motion videos of aerators in action then you're in luck.  We will also get all our fans reinstalled and ready the golf course for the upcoming summer activity.  I know, it already feels like summer and with two tournaments (Member-Guest and Member-Member) now in the books, the golf course is ready for a trip to the spa. ;)
In other news, Mr. Oden's email also addressed how we've been operating below full staff.  Only three of our normal six seasonal interns have arrived and with some attrition we experienced this winter it's been challenging the past two months locating and recruiting new staff.  I am happy to report we've had some recent success and you have probably noticed a few unfamiliar faces on the team.
L-R Anthony, Trent, Colton and Jacob
Please welcome Anthony Baxter, Trent Martinez, Colton Long, and Jacob Walker to Team Carolina!  Anthony is 22 years old and from Mount Holly.  Colton is 21 years old and from Denver, NC while Jacob is 25 and hails from Lincolnton.  Anthony, Colton and Jacob are full-time members of the team.  Trent is a Civil Engineering major at the University of Colorado in Boulder and here as a summer intern.  These lads are giving it their all and we appreciate their efforts, especially in this heat.  Let them know you appreciate them when you see them.

And I want to express my heartfelt thanks to member Graham Stevens.  It's small acts such as below and kind words of encouragement that make our efforts each day worthwhile.  Please know we're working hard each and every day to make the course better than the day before.

See you on the course,

Matthew Wharton, CGCS, MG

Friday, May 3, 2019

Course Update and National Golf Day!

Hello and welcome to The Greenkeeper!  Today is Friday, May 3rd and it's finally starting to feel more like spring in the Carolinas.  Dare I even say a few days have felt more like early summer.  You will not hear any complaints from me or members of my department as these conditions are long overdue this year.  The golf course has really started to come alive and the recent dry spell means the return of firm and fast conditions.  I know you're loving the 30 plus yards of extra roll.  :)
Coming Together
You may be surprised to learn we received more rainfall in April (4.48 inches) than March (3.82 inches), but only 0.24 inches of rain has fallen since tax day (April 15th).  So after a record setting September through February (over 40 inches) and over 8 inches rain from March 1 - April 15 it appears Mother Nature has finally turned the faucet off.  Before you know it we will all be watering our lawns and complaining about the lack of rain. ;)

As course conditions continue to improve it's the rough that is currently lagging behind, but that isn't entirely unusual for the first of May.  We have completed two full mowings of the rough over the past three weeks.  The first at a slightly higher height of cut than the most recent.  We stepped down to remove as much of the lingering dormant chaff as possible to assist sunlight penetration to the canopy below.  When Bermudagrass breaks dormancy it produces all new leaves and shoots, the dormant material does not green back up.

If you look closely you will notice a considerable amount of traffic control (stakes) has been reinstalled on the course.  Cart traffic greatly impacts Bermudagrass green up, and not in a good way.  Being mindful of this as you make your way around the course and avoiding higher trafficked areas when possible can assist with turf recovery.  You will also notice we have used our aeravator in some of the most highly trafficked areas to alleviate compaction and assist recovery.

Last time CLICK HERE I talked about the removal of several trees and the reasons behind those decisions.  Since that time all the stumps have been removed, and we even transplanted a new tree - tree management means more than just tree removal.  
The stump holes have been marked as GUR - Ground Under Repair and we will continue to fill and level them to prep for new turf.  Currently the sod work in these areas is scheduled for the week of May 13th.

In other news we've been trying to hire new staff for several months now, and it's been challenging.  We've recently landed two new guys and another is scheduled to start in two weeks.  Most folks inquiring to our postings either do not respond back when an attempt to schedule a meeting or interview is made, or fail to show for said scheduled interview.  And it's not just an issue at Carolina Golf Club, or locally here in Charlotte.  I've shared many experiences with peers all across the country and labor, or the apparent lack-there-of is a major hurdle facing our industry and many others right now.  Which leads me to my next topic.

As chapter president, I was part of the GCSAA contingent that converged on Washington, D.C. earlier this week for National Golf Day.  This was the 12th annual NGD put on by the We Are Golf coalition with the purpose of telling lawmakers about all the great things golf does for the economy, environment, fitness and others, and also issues affecting our businesses like the current labor situation.  It's important they know and understand who we are and what we do and the impact we make at home in their states and districts.  

I must say I found the entire experience truly awe inspiring and humbling.  Over 200 people (mostly golf course superintendents from more than 40 states) participated in a community service project the day prior on the U.S. National Mall. Nearly 20 separate projects were carried out, everything from mowing, aerating, and seeding, to planting flowers, pruning shrubs, and other necessary detail work.  I was assigned to team Green Thumb and our task was the pruning of junipers at the Korean War Veterans Memorial.  
Green Thumb
We arrived before park visitors and took a moment to absorb the memorial and all its meaning.  We then went straight to work sprucing up the memorial as hundreds and thousands of park visitors strolled by.  Sometimes visitors asked who we were and what we were doing.  When we answered they thanked us, which was humbling, but when we saw the countless veterans of World War II, Korea, and Vietnam pass by it was hard not to get choked up in their presence and we thanked them for their service.

Honor to Give Back

The next day we all converged on Capitol Hill to conduct meetings with Senators and Representatives.  In all 244 individual meetings were conducted with lawmakers and their respective staffers to discuss important issues impacting the golf industry.  It was an eye opening experience to see what goes on behind the scenes and behind closed doors in D.C., but very rewarding and worthwhile.  And it was really cool when I bumped into a Carolina Golf Club member as I exited our meeting with Senator Burr's Legislative Assistant.  Small world!
We Are Golf
Meeting With Senator Tillis' Office

Here's a link CLICK HERE to a feature about the event on Golf Channel showing Team Green Thumb and many others in action.  Anyway, the sun is shining, birds are chirping, grass is growing and it is time for you and your friends to come out and enjoy a round of golf at Carolina Golf Club before heading over to Quail Hollow to take in some Wells Fargo Championship action.    

See you on the course,

Matthew Wharton, CGCS, MG