Monday, April 20, 2020

Twenty Days More!

Hello and welcome to The Greenkeeper!  Today is Monday, April 20th and so much has happened since my last update while simultaneously staying the same.  I can honestly tell you when I posted my last update CLICK HERE my confidence was low golf would remain open for the duration of the Covid-19 crisis in North Carolina.  Twenty days ago all reports indicated a surge in new cases was still on the horizon and the news braced everyone to be prepared for things getting worse before the curve reached an apex.

There were also early indications that not all golf facilities statewide were fully complying with the social distancing requirements necessary to permit operations.  You may recall an email from The Professional Staff back on the evening of April 3rd sharing a notification from the Carolinas PGA Section highlighting the guidelines required for golf to continue.  This notification was also shared by other allied golf leaders including the North Carolina Golf Course Owners Association and the Carolinas Golf Association in response to learning golf would not be permitted to continue if everyone didn't comply with the guidelines.
The message must have worked for that was over two weeks ago and with each passing day my optimism continues to grow.  The number of cases hasn't surged to numbers originally predicted and we're now hearing reports from other parts of the country about taking steps to slowly loosen restrictions placed on society.  Also, a few states that originally closed golf have decided to reopen golf which gives me more hope we can continue through to the end - whenever that may be.

But don't get me wrong, although my optimism grows I am cautious to avoid a false sense of security.  The road ahead is still long and I'm not certain when any of us will get to hear that beautiful sound of a putt falling into the bottom of a cup again.  But at least we're walking between 4 and 5 miles, we're breathing fresh air, we're soaking up warm sunshine (don't forget your sunscreen and yes, it's been cool of late), and we're playing golf. 

The golf course continues to wake up and more closely resembles mid-May than April for this time of year.  The recent cool spell has slowed the Bermudagrass to some degree (we experienced back-to-back morning lows in the 30s earlier this week) resulting in a reduction of required mowing.  While the restrictions on carts continues to allow those high trafficked zones to continue to improve.  

Despite the fact I'm writing this during a rainy day, April has been our driest month thus far in 2020.  With nearly all the rainfall occurring last Monday (1.90 inches) when severe storms moved through our region.  Thankfully the course did not suffer any significant damage and we were able to cleanup and remove all debris prior to this past weekend.  
I did receive some additional questions this week regarding the putting greens.  It's funny how when standing on the edge the surface appears fully healed, but upon looking straight down at your ball you see aeration holes.  I can attest they putt better than they look, but all jokes aside the overall rate of healing since aeration has left me more frustrated than you.  The last time I recall a similar situation was ten years ago as we prepared to host our very first Wells Fargo Qualifying tournament.

Billy Mayfair was medalist that year shooting a five under par round 65 (hole 13 played as a par 4) including three consecutive birdies on his final three holes (he finished on hole 9).  He would go on to lead the Wells Fargo Championship through the first three rounds.  I had the opportunity to speak with him briefly following his round at CGC and he talked about the first thought that went through his mind after reaching his ball on the opening hole was not a pleasant one.  But then he was surprised and pleased after stroking the putt.  I guess sometimes appearances can be deceiving.

Before I go I want to tip my hat to my coworkers, the Professional Staff at Carolina Golf Club.  They have adapted to this new way of service and I'm proud of what they're accomplishing under the leadership of Mr. Cleveland in the face of this unprecedented challenge!  It is amazing to see so many of you embracing these changes and supporting the club these past few weeks.  I don't think I've ever seen so many folks on a Tuesday in my entire tenure as your superintendent.

Also, on behalf of my team we too thank you for your support.  It means a lot to us to have this opportunity to prepare and maintain your golf course each day.  I'll leave you with the same closing paragraph from last time along with some recent photos you may have missed: 

From the outset of this situation I have felt golf has the potential to be a beacon of hope for members of the community.  A place to escape the insanity and stress by breathing fresh air and exercising the body and mind.  I hope and pray we are able to continue to provide you with this outlet in the safest manner possible.  
Hole 9
Hole 10
Hole 18

Here's to brighter days ahead... see you on the course,

Matthew Wharton, CGCS, MG