Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Four More Weeks!

Hello and welcome to The Greenkeeper!  Today is Tuesday, May 19th and it has been four weeks since my last post. CLICK HERE  I don't know about you but I find the days long but cumulatively they are passing at a rapid rate.  I honestly can't believe we are now more than two months into whatever this is we are into.

We are so fortunate and blessed that golf never stopped in North Carolina, and it brings me great pleasure knowing golf has restarted across the country and abroad.  I pray for my peers in Scotland they will soon be permitted to join the rest of us. 

So, what all has happened since last time?  April was much cooler than March with many sunny days accompanied with strong northerly breezes.  That cool, dry Canadian air kept the grass in check and slowed the fast start the golf course got off to in March.  On the first day of astrological spring this year (March 19th) we were more than three weeks ahead of an average year based on cumulative growing degree days.  By the end of April that head start had shrunk to only two weeks.

But despite all those cool, dry, breezy days April contained some major heavy rain events and our total for the entire month equaled 7.24 inches and the sixth wettest April on record!  We received 5.44 inches of that total in only three events!
Then May started cooler than April with two morning lows in the 30s!  We set a record low of 36 degrees on May 12th, we even had patchy frost in the rough!  Needless to say we are no longer way ahead of schedule based on GDD measurements.     
Frost May 12, 2020
But enough about the crazy weather, the golf course has seen a record number of rounds played the past two months and remains in great condition thanks in large part to the reduced traffic from the temporary cart ban.  In fact, it has been refreshing to see so many of you continuing to walk now that carts are once again permissible.  I know the ban was difficult for some of you, and we appreciate your patience as the club navigates its way thru this pandemic working hard to keep each of you safe.

A couple of course related items before I wrap up.  We made the switch from inverted cups to cups with the foam pool noodle insert based on a request.  Seems a few folks may have encountered some potentially holed shots not remaining holed on the inverted setup, including a possible ace - sorry!  Since making the switch the feedback has all been positive.  I still eagerly await the day we can remove the noodle and hear that sweet sound of the ball falling into the cup, but for now safety first!

Also, the committee fielded a request by a group to try something different with the way we prepare and present the bunkers for daily play.  The "Aussie" method, as it is commonly called, keeps the sloped portions of the bunkers firm and smooth with only the flatter bottom portion raked as pictured below.  The name comes from the famous Melbourne sand belt as most courses there maintain their bunkers this way.  
Royal Melbourne
The thought here is balls finding the bunker will always settle back into the raked portion and never come to rest under or near the lip.  I think we are roughly three weeks into our experiment and the feedback again has been mostly positive.  We did experiment with this method briefly last spring during our labor crisis to save time, but we did not make an effort to promote the method and most players would rake their footprints all the way back to the edge creating a very unkempt appearance by midday.  With no rakes on the course the bunkers have maintained their appearance throughout the day and as those perimeters continue to get firm one hardly leaves an impression when stepping in and out.
CGC No. 8
The photo above is the one I shared on Twitter last week explaining what we are trying to accomplish with this method of presentation.  Granted, most of our bunkers do not contain a lot of flashing and are referred to as "flat bottomed bunkers" but there is still some curvature and hopefully you can see the idea.  We are working with the team to get everyone on the same page so we can have a consistent presentation from person-to-person, day-to-day as you play and experience the course.

That's all for now, time to check on the team's progress this morning as we prep following last night's soaking rain.  The golf course took on 1.20 inches rainfall and I'm happy to say no cart restrictions were necessary at the start of the day, but more rain is expected over the next three days!  Crazy weather.  Stay safe everyone!

See you on the course,

Matthew Wharton, CGCS, MG