Wednesday, November 27, 2019


Hello and welcome to The Greenkeeper!  Today is Wednesday, November 27th and it's time for my annual reminder that 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 team worked hard this week cleaning and preparing the course following last weekend's weather events.  Unfortunately looks like we have another rain event today, so expect soft conditions.  :(

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. 

Swilcan Bridge

  • 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.

"Rooster Tails"

  • 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.  ;)

Remain Calm!

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

Friday, November 8, 2019


Hello and welcome to The Greenkeeper!  Today is Friday, November 8th and winter is on its way.  Okay, maybe not full blown winter, after all summer just left town (Last Post), but some cold air from Canada will arrive tonight making tomorrow morning's round a very chilly start - possible frost delay.  And that's not even the coldest air as the 10-Day Forecast below reveals a reinforcing shot of Canadian air for the middle of next week!  Can you say Novemberrrr!
When the flash drought finally broke on October 13th we had six measurable rain events the remainder of last month totaling 5.68 inches.  The irrigation reservoir quickly went from several feet below capacity to full pond.  

We had two major golf events still to conduct, Fall Member-Guest and the Carolina Invitational and ironically we received significant rainfall prior to both events.  We received 3/4 inch rain the day before Member-Guest practice rounds and nearly two inches rain prior to the Carolina Invitational practice rounds last week.  Despite the soft and soggy conditions relegating everyone to the cart paths for practice, we were able to get carts on the fairways for the competitions and my team managed to provide some sporty conditions for our members and invited guests.
I want to thank my team for all their hard work this season.  This has been a challenging year as we've had to rebuild the staff from scratch.  We're like a football team starting a bunch of freshmen and sophomores.  But what we lack in game experience we've made up with hard work, grit, and determination.
CGC Agronomy 2019
In other turf news, the newly seeded areas of our putting turf nursery continue to establish as we grow-in the new green.  I can clearly identify establishment differences between varieties as one outpaces the others.  But that's okay, it's good to learn the differences between them and compare to our existing grasses.  Our mowing height on the turf nursery is still slightly too far above that on the course's putting greens, which is why we haven't harvested plugs to make repairs lately.  But we will continue to gradually reduce the HOC on the nursery green and as the two HOC's get closer together you will see some lingering scars disappear.
Putting Turf Nursery
Well, with the Invitational in our rear-view mirror and clocks returned to standard time our attention and efforts shift to keeping the course clean as the leaves continuously fall.  Week after next Senior Assistant Eric Sosnowski will accompany me to Myrtle Beach, SC as we attend the 2019 Carolinas GCSA Conference and Trade Show November 18-20.  And before you know it Thanksgiving will be here.  In the meantime, bundle up and get out and enjoy the course, cause nothing could be finer than fall golf at Carolina.

See you on the course,

Matthew Wharton, CGCS, MG