Temperatures tonight are only expected to reach about 42 degrees which means frost is not likely in the morning. As customary I will make my inspection through the course in the early hours and if nothing is out of place I will retreat back home to a house filled with family and cheer. If you're a dew sweeper then maybe I'll see you but if we don't cross paths this year, Happy Thanksgiving!
Now that we have the formalities out of the way, it's time for my annual list. That's why you're really here, right? I don't know if it will be possible to top last year's amazing list, but 2019 was packed with highs, lows and everything in between. Through it all, I tried to find something to be thankful for every step of the way. This year, mostly in order as they occurred, I'm most thankful for:
- The Old Course at St. Andrews! I was fortunate to be invited to speak at the 2019 BIGGA Turf Management Exposition (BTME) in late January and managed to slip in a brief trip to Scotland on the front end. LINK To tread the sacred links where so many legends like Allan Robertson, Old Tom Morris, Tommy Morris, Jr., Bobby Jones and more have traversed and etched their names in the lore of golf was awe inspiring for this golf history nerd. Truly a blessed day.
- Speaking at GIS! The talk I co-presented at BTME with Lee Strutt was well received and we had the good fortune to present the talk at the Golf Industry Show in San Diego. The topic of hard work and sacrifices one must make in order to achieve success served as a catalyst in the industry opening the door to other discussions surrounding work/life balance and stress. Lee and I were just happy to have the opportunity to present to our peers. Sorry I cut you out of this picture Pal. ;)
|Golf Industry Show|
- Cleother Young, Jr.! Known to us as Pops, he was a dedicated team member for the last 11 years. I can't thank each of you enough for your kindness and generosity to his widow and family, and to those of you that attended his funeral I will forever be grateful. Your presence there meant the world to me and my team as your show of support helped us through the darkest time of 2019!
- National Golf Day! The event originated twelve years ago and produced a record high 244 meetings with members of Congress representing 41 states to discuss the games $84.1 billion economy, nearly $4 billion charitable impact, and two million jobs across the U.S. This was my first time attending as the event did not conflict with the club's scheduled tournaments, and I even bumped into a CGC member coming out of Senator Burr's office - small world. It was an honor to represent Carolina Golf Club and Carolinas GCSA on Capitol Hill.
|We Are Golf|
- Aeration Week! For the first time ever we closed for five consecutive days to perform our early summer greens aeration and fairway aeration and topdressing consecutively. This year we added another agronomic operation to the fairways with the deep verticutting. We were blessed with good weather as the event took place on the tail end of our early season dry stretch (26 consecutive days without rainfall from May 13 - June 7) allowing us to pull off this project with a relatively young team! I do believe our fairways had one of their best seasons yet as a result and we're planning on another aeration week in 2020.
- Fine Fescue! Golf courses are living, breathing things and they go through a variety of changes with the seasons. One of my favorite is when the fescue is in its full glory. The color and contrast these natural/native areas provide throughout the property during late spring and early summer are really special and I enjoy taking a moment to just think about all the work that has gone into this golf course since the Master Plan!
|July 12, 2019|
- TurfBreeze Fans! I'm pretty sure I've listed them in prior years but with Mother Nature deciding to crank up the real heat once Summer was "over" per the calendar, it was a good thing these babies were still cranking. 2019 was the longest they've remained in place as the team brought them down in early October!
- TurfNet Ireland! The only thing that can top a trip to the U.K. would be a trip to the Emerald Isle! This trip was made possible by being a finalist for the 2018 Superintendent of the Year, thanks to those of you that nominated me. The trip couldn't have come at a better time as we finally got the break in the heat wave that gripped our region for many months. By the time I returned I brought back some rain that ended our longest dry stretch of the season - 50 consecutive days! I literally could share countless photos of this trip, mostly golf courses but this one is my phone's wallpaper. :)
|Cliffs of Moher|
- Matt Claunch! My former assistant decided to return to Florida in early June, but his impact on our team and operation still remains. I couldn't be happier for or prouder of him as he returned to Pine Tree Golf Club to help lead an irrigation renovation, and propose to the future Mrs. Claunch! Thanks to text messages, Twitter and GIFs we stay in close communication discussing all things CGC, Pine Tree, Carolina Panthers, and #SoFlo Life!
|She Said Yes!|
- Eric Sosnowski, Matthew Miller, Matthew Rollyson, JR Bailey and Company! One other staff change that went under the radar this year was the return of JR Bailey on April 1st as Equipment Manager. Matt's departure also opened the door for new assistants Miller and Rollyson to join the team CLICK HERE. It wasn't easy, especially early on when our numbers were small, but this group finally got their feet under them and managed to produce conditions I believe rivaled last year's USGA conditions. I cannot thank them enough and I hope when you see them, you will too!
|CGC Agronomy 2019|
- I would be remiss if I didn't thank everyone for their support this year! General Manager Billy Cleveland, Greens Chairman Ed Oden, Club President Bo South, members of the Committee and Board of Governors please allow me to express my heartfelt gratitude for your faith in me, even when the breaks were not going our way. This year will go down as one of the more difficult with the labor challenges, but our motto at the Turf Care Center is Whatever It Takes, so we just keep grinding till we find a way.
- As always, faith and family are at the top of the list! Princess and her Lebanon Pioneer teammates had another deep run in the VHSL 2A Softball Playoffs reaching the Semifinal game for the second consecutive year. They've come so close on two occasions and she continues to grow into a wonderful team leader. Maybe I'll ask Santa to help get them over the hump in 2020. ;)
I could go on as this year was full of many more moments deserving of thanks! Just know I am honored to be your golf course superintendent and each day at CGC is a blessing. Thank you for the opportunity to serve you and your guests and I hope each of you have a wonderful Thanksgiving with your friends, families, and loved ones!
See you on the course,
Matthew Wharton, CGCS, MG