Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Happy Christmas!

Hello and welcome to The Greenkeeper! Today is Wednesday, December 22nd and I would like to wish each of you and your families a happy Christmas! Hope everyone enjoyed themselves yesterday during the annual Christmas Balls tourney and now you're getting ready for Santa's arrival, assuming you've warmed up by now. ;)

Santa should be in a good mood considering this past weekend he won the PNC Championship partnered with John Daly II. Hopefully this means we're all on the nice list and can expect lots of goodies to help with our golf games in our stockings this year!

John Daly and John Daly II

As is customary, the golf course will be closed this coming Friday and Saturday (Christmas Eve and Christmas Day). Of course you and your family, friends, and guests are welcome to play provided you receive permission from Mrs. Claus. ;)  The current forecast calls for a morning low temperature of 35 degrees Friday morning, so frost is likely, no early bird arrivals please. Saturday looks unseasonably warm so no issues there. 

5-Day Forecast, AccuWeather

Mrs. Greenkeeper and I are headed to Virginia to visit our families after the pandemic induced hiatus last year. We are both so thankful for our health after the challenges of the past twelve months and look forward to spending a few days with loved ones once again. 

Well, it wouldn't be my final post of the year without a quick weather breakdown. For those of you anxiously waiting the current 2021 rain total at Carolina Golf Club is 40.28 inches following yesterday's intermittent drizzle and sleet. That makes 2021 our driest year since 2016 and more importantly it is more than 18 inches less than the average rainfall received each of the past three consecutive years (58.50 inches)!

Here's hoping 2022 brings us all the peace and joy we've craved the last two years and I look forward to seeing you on the golf course next year! 

Happy Christmas Carolina Golf Club,

Matthew Wharton, CGCS, MG

Tuesday, December 14, 2021

Dry Ground for Golf!

Hello and welcome to The Greenkeeper! Today is Tuesday, December 14th and we are now just eleven days away from Christmas! And can you believe there are only seventeen more days remaining in 2021? I know, it's crazy! Tonight is the Past President's Dinner at Carolina Golf Club. After a one-year hiatus brought about by the pandemic it will be good to once again gather with fellow senior staff, the Board of Governors, and Past Presidents to discuss our love for the game of golf and Carolina Golf Club. 

Recently I shared something on Twitter that garnered a good deal of support and I wanted to discuss it with you here and provide a little more context.

Last month I posted a few details about a recent trip to Royal Dornoch. One of the gentlemen on the trip was Tom Colombo, the golf course superintendent of Hyannisport Club in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts. We were admiring the contours of the green pads, bunkers, and closely mowed surrounds and I commented how Carolina Golf Club possesses similar features but we cannot replicate the links playing conditions until the Bermudagrass goes dormant.

Despite the ability of Bermudagrass to tolerate close mowing, its growth habits (lush and grainy) during warm, humid summers make for a sticky surface that can baffle golfers attempting to play the ball along the ground. But when dormant, and dry, those shots are made less difficult and a wider array of options are now at your disposal.

But the key word in that last sentence is DRY! For the past three years Carolina Golf Club has been subjected to above average rainfall of nearly epic proportions. In 2018 it rained 58.60 inches. In 2019 it rained 57.20 inches. And last year (2020) it rained 59.71 inches!

So far in 2021 it has only rained a total of 39.02 inches! More importantly the rainfall received since the beginning of September has only totaled 6.59 inches as of today. We have always said the best time to play golf at Carolina Golf Club is fall, and this year we have been treated to a dry autumn for the first time since 2017!

NC Drought Index

As you may imagine, if we haven't received much rain then we must be entering into a drought. Above is the latest update on the growing conditions across North Carolina. You can see Mecklenburg County has entered into the Severe category. But the 0.95 inch of rain that has fallen on Carolina Golf Club this month all came after this map's valid data was recorded. Although I don't expect a lessening of our category, just know things are not as dire as they may appear.

The current La Nina is providing us once again with some unseasonably warm conditions as record highs may be reached by the end of this week! Below is the 10-Day Outlook from our friend at WCNC, Brad Panovich.

Don't be surprised if we receive more rain when the cold air arrives this weekend. It is hard to go from record high temperatures to drop-offs of twenty degrees or more without triggering showers and storms. Regardless, the dry conditions we have experienced the past few months have brought about some of the best playing conditions this time of year in quite some time, so please, get out and enjoy them! 

See you on the course,

Matthew Wharton, CGCS, MG

Wednesday, November 24, 2021


Hello and welcome to The Greenkeeper! Today is Wednesday, November 24th, the day before Thanksgiving and I cannot believe it is here again. I swear as the years go by the wheel of life turns faster and faster. 

Besides being my favorite holiday of the year, Thanksgiving has become a wonderful tradition at Carolina Golf Club. It is a blessing to work for a membership that closes their facilities so staff can enjoy the holiday with their families. But don’t fret, the course is accessible (walking only) for those of you able to secure a hall pass from your loved ones. So, if you’re looking to squeeze in a quick round before dinner, or just wanting to walk off an extra helping of stuffing later in the afternoon, enjoy!

Now, the forecast for tomorrow morning calls for the temperature to reach 31 degrees. Considering we have experienced frost each of the past two mornings, this means frost is highly likely again tomorrow, so please refrain from trying to access the course too early.

As customary, I will make an early ride through the property to ensure everything is in order, and will linger near the clubhouse to engage in conversation with anyone that perhaps arrives too early, just so we do not inadvertently walk on the frost. With the kids not arriving until Friday, I think I may squeeze in a hickory round myself once conditions are frost free.

Another tradition is my annual list of thanks. I must admit, after last year's list, Grateful for Golf and the circumstances surrounding it, I did not think I could do another. After all, my wife's battle was just beginning at that time, and to say the past twelve months were filled with more anxiety would be putting it lightly.

But as always, despite moments of stress, darkness, or despair there is light that shines through and I would be remiss if I didn't share a few things I am thankful for this year:

  • Yesterday (November 23rd) was our golf course architect's birthday. Donald J. Ross was born in Dornoch, Scotland in 1872. Personally, I think it is great his birthday falls on or around Thanksgiving, as I am always thankful for Mr. Ross and the contributions he made to this game in America. This year I had the good fortune to travel to Dornoch and walk the streets and play the links where Mr. Ross was exposed to this grand game. I am so thankful I had the opportunity to make that connection.

  • Before emigrating to the U.S., Donald Ross spent time under the tutelage of Old Tom Morris. Anyone that knows me well, knows I have a strong admiration for Old Tom and this year the Home of Golf was celebrating Old Tom's 200th birthday! That's right, Old Tom Morris was born June 16, 1821 and earlier this year there were numerous commemorations of golf's Grand Old Man including this wonderfully detailed flip book. 
Hanging in Clubhouse, Royal Dornoch

  • I referenced my trip to Dornoch above, and I am most thankful for everything that permitted my travel. Obviously my wife's permission and my vaccinations head the list, but it also includes American Airlines, British Airways, VeriFly, and a host of others that helped deliver me across the pond and back safely! 
  • And speaking of Dornoch, what a treat it was to once again experience links golf! I traveled with seven other industry peers from the Northeast and mid-Atlantic and together we were like school boys at recess. What an amazing experience we had playing Royal Dornoch, Brora, Nairn, and Castle Stuart. I will cherish the memories of that trip for the rest of my life, and before I returned home I was already thinking of how and when I can get back to the Scottish Highlands. 

Royal Dornoch


  • Speaking of Nairn, during our visit there we were invited to visit their archive room. My jaw hit the floor when the door opened and my eyes gazed upon the most amazing collection of golf artifacts, documents, and more. I snapped many pictures and this nerd could easily have spent the night in the room and still not come close to taking it all in. As a member of the Golf Heritage Society and Society of Hickory Golfers I was definitely inspired for new ways to display my own collectables. 
    The Nairn Golf Club

  • The truth is I could write for days about my trip and experiences in the Highlands. But that would be a disservice to some other things that are the best part of 2021. I had the good fortune to be invited to Inverness Club in Toledo, Ohio to spend a little time with college friends. I have known golf course architect Andrew Green for twenty-five years, and to say I am proud of the work he has recently accomplished is an understatement. What a treat it was to see and experience first hand his handiwork at the sight of this year's Solheim Cup. The USGA just announced the U.S. Amateur is returning to Inverness Club in 2029 and I will not be surprised if it reprises its role as a U.S. Open host sometime soon thereafter! 
15th Hole Inverness Club

  • Okay, so maybe I've been a little too thankful for the time to take a couple of trips late in the year, but the biggest takeaway was memorable time spent with dear friends, both old and new. I am thankful for these friendships and the camaraderie we shared. Whether it was hanging with college buddies I've known nearly a quarter century, or playing golf in Scotland with guys I had just met, you can't beat friendship! 
Fellow Hokies

Surrounded by Yankees

  • Everything I've mentioned prior to now although special and memorable, pales in comparison to the thanks I must give to my wife's team of doctors and health care providers! Somehow the grace of God led us to these special people that treated her and assisted with her fight. I shudder to think where she and I would be or what may have happened without them in our life this past year! 

Dr. Joshi, Medical Oncology

Dr. Turk, Surgical Oncology

The Angels of Novant Cancer

  • Of course I could not end a year of thanks without mentioning things near and dear to me here at Carolina Golf Club. This year we continued to host a high number of rounds and we saw a return of special events like our spring and fall Member-Guests and Invitational. I'm very thankful to the Green Committee and Chairman Brett Boner for leading the charge as we embarked on the bunker renovation. The team from Golf Course Services, Inc. did a phenomenal job in a short window of time renovating the bunkers on holes 1, 2, and the practice area. The installation of the capillary concrete liner and new G-Angle sand has made an instant impact to the overall condition and playability of these bunkers. Project Update from September

  • And now that we are on the subject of the golf course, I have to thank my team. In 2019 and 2020 this core group dealt with a revolving door of new members and the pandemic. This year the door stopped revolving as the labor situation facing our country reached CGC. Thankfully we still had access to an experienced seasonal work force that supplemented our manpower and for the first time in quite a while I was truly pleased with the product they were producing. Most folks that know me well know I am rarely, if ever satisfied. Anyway, my hats off to this hard working group for overcoming numerous obstacles and creating a product that saw Carolina Golf Club resurface in the list of Top 200 Classic Courses.  

  • Looking back, this past year was mostly occupied with doctors and work. The trips I enjoyed were a welcomed respite and I appreciate very much my wife allowing me to travel and have those experiences to clear my head and recharge. The thing I am most thankful for outside my family is work! I am honored to be your golf course superintendent and the ability to immerse myself in the care of this amazing property has helped me survive the past two years more than you could ever imagine. I want to thank Mr. Cleveland, the Board of Governors, and the Green Committee for providing the tools, resources, and support needed to care for CGC! Because without them none of this is possible. Thank you all for the opportunity to serve you, your families, and your guests and I sincerely hope each of you have a wonderful Thanksgiving! 

See you on the course,

Matthew Wharton, CGCS, MG

Friday, November 5, 2021

Invited Back!

Hello and welcome to The Greenkeeper! Today is Friday, November 5th and tomorrow play begins as Carolina Golf Club conducts the 20th Carolina Invitational. Founded in 1999, this will only be the second time the championship has been contested in the past four years. The tournament was not held last year due to the pandemic and it took a hiatus in 2018 when we co-hosted the United States Mid-Amateur Championship.

As a result, some of you may be asking, "What is the Carolina Invitational?"  Funny thing is, it's a question I have answered before in this very space.  You're Invited was written in 2012 to help those members who joined after the  2007-2008 restoration better understand the origins of the event.  

Earlier this week I had a similar conversation with a member and realized with two years off in the past three, there  once again may be folks that do not know the story. Thus it became time to share the older post once more. I can tell you this year's field may very well be the strongest ever as 17 participants competed in USGA Championships in 2021!

One of those is Carolina's own Hayes Brown! It was just barely a month ago when Hayes was the last player to make the match play field of 64 at this year's U.S. Mid-Amateur at Sankaty Head Golf Club in Siasconset, Massachusetts. Hayes holed a wedge for an eagle 2 to win a 6 for 1 playoff and secure that final spot. He then went on to advance farther than any previous 64 seed in the event's history Click Here before succumbing in the semifinals to eventual champion Stewart Hagestad.

Hayes and Sean Snell are the defending Champions from 2019. You may recall Hayes won his second club championship last month on the heels of that thrilling U.S. Mid-Am performance and earlier this summer Sean advanced to the final round of this year's City Amateur Championship, so they're both coming into the event in fine form.

In 1927 with the help of O.B. Keeler, Bobby Jones wrote Down the Fairway. And it is right there in the opening paragraph of Chapter One that he clearly states there is a difference between the golf most of us play on a regular basis and tournament golf.

"You may take it from me that there are two kinds of golf; there is golf - and tournament golf. And they are not at all the same." 

The Carolina Invitational is Carolina Golf Club's tournament. Sort of like the Anderson Memorial is Winged Foot's, albeit ours is much younger. ;)  History records the results of tournament golf and the Invitational is Carolina Golf Club's contribution to the ever growing history of this game we all love.

I close with the same sentiment expressed nine years ago. My team and I strive each and every day to prepare and present your golf course at its very best for the enjoyment of you, your families and guests. But it is nice once in a while to have the opportunity to showcase your golf course on your behalf to those that play a different game.

See you on the course,

Matthew Wharton, CGCS, MG

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Fall Course Care

Hello and welcome to The Greenkeeper! Today is Wednesday, October 20th and Fall Member-Guest festivities begin tomorrow. Thankfully Mother Nature has delivered on the fall portion this year with crisp, cool morning temperatures the past several days along with blue skies and very little rain to help get everyone in the mood. It seems like it has been awhile since we experienced a typical Carolina autumn like we are currently enjoying, only 0.68 inch rain so far this month!

Since my last update we have been busy preparing the golf course for winter. I know, fall just arrived but that's the way agronomy works in our world. Over the past few weeks we have treated the entire course with pre-emergent herbicide for the management of unwanted annual bluegrass. 

Poa annua is a grassy winter annual weed and this treatment protects the dormant Bermudagrass canopy from invasion. The process is a lengthy one usually spanning from one week to the next as it requires numerous tanks to successfully treat more than 100 acres of tees, fairways, and rough! The product must also be watered-in to activate and bind the herbicide to the upper portions of the soil where it creates the barrier keeping the golf course clean during the winter season.

Following the prevention of winter weeds, it was time to protect our closely mowed areas from Spring Dead Spot (SDS). SDS is a turfgrass disease caused by one of three species of Ophiosphaerella fungi. Ophiosphaerella herpotricha is found primarily in the southern Great Plains region of the western U.S. Ophiosphaerella namari is the prevalent pathogen in California and Australia, but is not common in most other regions of the U.S. The predominant causal agent of SDS in North Carolina is Ophiosphaerella korrae.

Preventative treatment requires applying fungicide that targets the pest and watering in immediately with enough water to move the product into the upper portions of the rootzone where the fungus resides. Needless to say, treating nearly 35 acres in this manner requires a full Maintenance Monday in order to operate the volume of irrigation required without soaking innocent bystanders!

You will also be happy to know we recently overseeded both levels of the primary practice tee with ryegrass for the upcoming winter months. So like I said, although fall weather has just arrived we have been busy preparing the course for the months ahead.

In other news I am pleased to report the plant health of our putting greens has returned to levels last recognized during the 2018 U.S. Mid-Am. You may recall a post from early September click here where I spelled out how we altered our fall aerification practices that year and subsequently the health and performance of our greens declined as a result. 

The surfaces have rebounded quite handsomely with our treatments and more closely resemble the dense surfaces we all previously enjoyed. I focus my attention on the space between aerification holes, when the turf between holes equals the turf directly over the holes we are on the right track! 

So get out and enjoy the game during what is arguably the best time of year to play. There is a hint of color change on the trees, broomsedge seed stalks have bronzed, and Goldenrod dots the natural areas resembling  gorse in the spring. In fact, I think it's time I dusted off the hickories and walk a round myself! 

See What I Did There ;)

See you on the course,

Matthew Wharton, CGCS, MG

Nothing Could Be Finer...

Friday, September 17, 2021

Project Update!

Hello and welcome to The Greenkeeper! Today is Friday, September 17th and much has happened in the last ten days so let's get you updated!

First off was putting green aerification. On Sep 7 we punched over 6.7 million holes removing a 1/2 inch diameter core spaced two inches apart.  This impacted approximately 12% of the total surface area based on the outside diameter of our hollow tines.  After the greens were removed of cores, they were blown free of lingering debris and rolled 2 times to firm the surface.  

The following day we applied two soil amendments, topdressed all twenty-two surfaces with over 60 tons of kiln dried sand and then brushed into the holes.  The day after we performed a light vertical mowing to help incorporate and distribute the sand more evenly across the putting surfaces.  The greens were then rolled each day to smooth out tire marks caused from the topdresser and utility vehicle with tow-behind brush.

Monday all greens were treated with wetting agent and we began mowing at an adjusted height of cut. This weekend we will begin stepping the height of cut back down and should be back to normal sometime next week.

Hollow Core Aerification

Light Vertical Mowing

Finished Product

But let's not kid ourselves, I know you're not here to hear about the aerification. You want to know about the installation of the Capillary Bunkers on holes 1 and 2.  The team from Golf Course Services wasted no time on Sep 7 taking advantage of the closed golf course and getting the ball rolling.  The process for this project is to remove the existing turf surrounding the bunkers in order to recapture the original contours of the bunker cavity.  Holes 1 and 2 were first built in 2005 and opened for play in 2006 so we are talking about 15 years of sand buildup on the faces and surrounds.

Sand Buildup

Recovering Original Contours

The old bunker sand was removed and stockpiled to be used as fairway topdressing in the future.  The drain lines removed and inspected, and reinstalled with clean gravel.  New sod installed on the slopes and the bunker is now ready for the liner.

Inspecting Drainage

Ready for Liner

The porous concrete liner requires all hands on deck to quickly transport the material from the concrete truck to the bunker and spread to the proper two-inch depth.  The surface is rolled to firm any loose material on top and then the bunker is covered with plastic overnight.  

Installing Capillary Concrete

Ensuring Correct Depth

Ready to Cure
The following day the plastic is removed and new G-Angle sand installed. The sand will be plate tamped and the bunkers ready for play soon.  So far we have kept holes 1 and 2 closed for the majority of this project and I truly appreciate your patience and cooperation.  It is far more efficient and safer for all parties involved to work without interruption.  

New Sand
When the holes do reopen we will mark the bunkers as Ground Under Repair in order to preserve and protect the recent work.  Please do not walk into or out of the new bunkers when possible and use the long handled rakes provided to retrieve your ball and enjoy a free drop.

See you on the course,

Matthew Wharton, CGCS, MG 

Monday, September 6, 2021

Better Late Than Never!

Hello and welcome to The Greenkeeper! Today is Monday, September 6th and I apologize for the delay since my last update Click Here thirty-seven days ago. Hopefully by now most of you have seen and read the Ross Report. It was a pleasure to submit material for the club's new e-newsletter, and I did not want to spoil the surprise with a post here. I will be sharing some of that information below, along with weather related statistics about last month, and wrap up with a quick reminder of what takes place beginning tomorrow morning!  So let's go!

This is certainly an exciting time for the golf course as summer winds to a close and we enter our busy fall season!  The cart path improvement project saw numerous areas adversely impacted by tree roots demoed and repaved eliminating the bone jarring bumps and creating a smooth ride.

The work was carried out over several Maintenance Mondays with the folks from John E. Jenkins, Inc. out of Gastonia.  They have been grading and paving since 1948 and were a pleasure to work with.  They were thorough and careful removing all the offending roots prior to resurfacing and they even carried out some additional skim patching at no extra charge on areas they identified in need.

Demo Adjacent to 18 Tee

New Surface 18 Tee

After completion we ordered new sod to patch the edges where needed from the repair work. It is most cost effective to order a full truck load, so we patched up other areas throughout the course as well. By now you've probably noticed additional stakes to keep all traffic off the new turf until it has sufficiently rooted.

Thin Areas from High Traffic

Celebration Bermudagrass

I elected to sod these areas with Celebration bermudagrass, as it has a higher shade tolerance than 419. Nearly ever area targeted aside from the path edges were areas impacted by high traffic in conjunction with the stress of shade. We can adjust our mowing patterns to help with the traffic in the future, and hopefully you will adjust your cart usage patterns to assist us in our efforts to provide you superior conditions. In fact, if folks would simply refrain from parking behind the 4th and 6th greens we could keep the main artery of golf car and utility vehicle traffic flowing without the need to go around by driving on the turf.

Well, if you thought last month was unusually warm that would be putting it mildly. The oppressive dew points and subsequent humidity made the final stretch of August one to remember. When the dust settled August ranked as the 13th warmest all-time in Charlotte and warmest since 2016. I know the greens were experiencing weather induced stress and this change in the pattern we've all enjoyed the past few days brought an amazing bounce back!

Courtesy of Brad Panovich, WCNC

I even texted with my former major professor from VA Tech last Thursday morning telling him the resilience of bentgrass still amazes me after all these years. The plant's natural response when the stressor is removed is a beautiful thing indeed.

So if you did read the Ross Report, then you know starting tomorrow we have an exciting project taking place on Holes 1 and 2. Our friends Golf Course Services, Inc. will be renovating the 8 bunkers located on those two holes using the capillary bunker system The process includes removing the old bunker sand and stockpiling on site (we will use for future topdressing). Removing the existing drainage pipe and gravel. Stripping the turf from the bunker faces and surrounds. Setting a new 6-inch bunker edge. Reinstalling drainage pipe with new gravel. Installing the Capillary bunker liner. Installing new sod on the bunker faces and surrounds. And finally installing new G-Angle bunker sand.

We expect the project to take approximately 2-3 weeks and our intent is to minimize your disruption as much as possible. When necessary we will either move tees forward into the fairway, use a temporary hole located in the approach, or close access to the hole in order to ensure workers can complete this work in a safe and timely fashion. We will communicate daily with the Golf Professional Staff so you will know what to expect each day of the project.

But that's not the big news starting tomorrow. The big news is greens aerification takes place as we will be performing a hollow-core aerification and topdressing Tuesday and Wednesday. This will be the first September aerification to our bentgrass greens since 2017. That's right, we moved aerification to early summer in 2018 for the U.S. Mid-Am and attempted similar practices in 2019 and 2020. Last fall with the record play the greens just did not possess the same vigor and vitality entering the winter, so the decision was made to reinstitute a traditional fall aerification once more. 

Big News Big Tines
Contrary to popular belief, I do not lie awake at night dreaming up ways to torture you and your golfing soul. Despite the ominous appearance above I assure the greens will heal relatively quickly and be ready for whatever Mother Nature brings our way between now and next spring.  Be sure and check back for a recap of aerification and the bunker project in a few weeks.

See you on the course,

Matthew Wharton, CGCS, MG

Friday, July 30, 2021

So, What Happened Was...

Hello and welcome to The Greenkeeper!  Today is Friday, July 30th and I need to explain what happened since my last update. June Recap

You may recall I wrapped up my last post sharing an Instagram post from Ran Morrissett, creator of  Yes, that's an older photo of our third hole on their website.  Anyway, Ran had many nice things to say about our fescue that included a great picture of the thirteenth showcasing the contrasting colors and textures these natural/native areas provide.

Many of you were shocked to find these areas mowed down less than one week later.  So, what happened was not all our natural/native areas on the golf course are fine-fescue.  We have well over twenty acres of fine-fescue, tall fescue, broomsedge, bluestem, and grammas.  The fescues are cool-season grasses and we mow these areas annually in the late winter and early spring.  This is to remove the old, dead seed stalks from the previous year and allow for new growth.  The fescue typically produces its new seed stalk by May and they turn their desired golden color in early June. In fact, I highlighted the spring mowing in a blog update on March 26 Click Here.  

The areas dominated by broomsedge and bluestem (warm-season plants) we mow each year in early summer for the same reasons, to remove the old, dead seed stalks from the prior year and allow for new growth.  The broomsedge typically produces its new seed stalk by September and turns a nice coppery bronze by October.  So, it really is a function of two different grass types performing the same function in various parts of the property.  The cool-season fescues do not perform well in full sun and southern exposures as our climate is too extreme, they function best under the protection of trees and north facing slopes.

Hopefully that clears us any confusion you may have been experiencing. Earlier this month we closed the golf course for 3 1/2 days following the observance of Independence Day on Monday, July 5 to perform intensive cultural practices to the tees and fairways. So, what happened was on Day 1 we performed a deep vertical mowing of the fairways and approaches. Simultaneously we core aerified the tees.  

On Day 2 we continued with the fairway vertical mowing as that is a lengthy process, slowed even greater by the cleanup and removal of the massive amounts of organic debris. This year I refrained from taking the vertical mower on the steep slopes of the closely mowed green surrounds opting for solid-tine aerification immediately following the application of sand topdressing.  

Once the fairways were clean of debris we performed a circle mow then topdressed with 15 tons sand per acre, followed by solid-tine aerification with 3/4 inch diameter tines. Drag it all in and you're ready for play!  I make it sound simple but the reality is these are very long days, and we appreciate the support to provide us with time to perform these beneficial practices.

We first started topdressing fairways the summer of 2014 when we utilized all our old bunker sand following a replacement project.  In 2015 we made the commitment to invest in the equipment necessary to perform this task each season on a large scale.

To date we have applied 4,350 tons of sand over 30 acres.  That's 145 tons per acre for an average of just a little more than 20 tons per acre annually over the past seven growing seasons. And here's proof the process is working.

The red arrow above indicates the clay subsoil where fairway turf was planted in 2008, and you can see the accumulation of sandy loam now present following years of topdressing. Over time our fairways have gotten smoother, firmer, and we enjoy fewer cart path only days following summer thunderstorms.

Did I mention we were interrupted by a tropical storm? Elsa moved through Charlotte on the Thursday morning of our course closure, luckily the rain was light and we did not lose too much productivity. If you would like to see more photos or videos of the cultural procedures they're available on Twitter.  You might have to scroll through a good bit of Open Championship related info to get to them though. ;)

In other news this past weekend someone practiced their putting on the large practice green just a little too long. How is that possible you ask? Well, here is a photo I received Sunday evening inquiring about the prominent blemishes.

So, what happened was somebody stood in the same spot for far too long. I replied to my inquirer I see this at least once every summer as it happens during very hot, humid weather. The bentgrass is most susceptible to injury during extreme weather so the moral here is simply to move around and vary your practice to prevent it from happening.

Another way to think about it is like this, what does your backyard look like the morning after a barbeque with family and friends? Exactly, you can see all the traffic where folks played cornhole and congregated around the coolers with cold beverages.  Or, just think about the condition of Wimbledon's Centre Court at the conclusion of the championship's fortnight? That's all traffic stress. For the record I am not here looking to place blame but merely inform so everyone can take better care in the future and hopefully we won't see this again till sometime next year. ;)

Well, that's all for now. Time to grab the hose and check plant moisture levels cause we are still in the dog days of summer. Stay cool and stay hydrated everybody. Only 38 days till greens aerification, but who's counting. ;)

See you on the course,

Matthew Wharton, CGCS, MG

Wednesday, June 30, 2021

June Recap!

Hello and welcome to The Greenkeeper!  Today is Wednesday, June 30th and I'm barely sneaking this recap in before the month ends!  We have much to cover since we last convened in this space so let's get to it.

June arrived on the heels of the driest spring (March, April, and May combined) in fifteen years!  The course had only received 7.72 inches rain over those three months with the majority (4.22") falling in March.  The cool, dry weather in April and May led to some very firm playing conditions enjoyed by most.

You may recall last time I mentioned how the cool, dry start to the golf season had the Bermudagrass lagging behind.  Well, June brought with it some warm, humid temperatures as to be expected, and nearly three inches of rainfall on the evenings of the 6th and 7th.  And just like that the irrigation reservoir was full again and the golf course greened up overnight!  After spending two months playing like a supermodel but not quite looking like one, the golf course began to look as good as she played!

No. 5

No. 7

As the month continued we did get a little more rain bringing our total for the month up to 4.55 inches which brings us to 22.22 inches for the year, which is about average.  Considering we have run close to twenty inches above average the past three years, it's good to see a little brown scattered about the fairways again.  It means the course is firm and you should be enjoying some extra roll on your drives!

In other news, we added new bunker sand to all greenside bunkers this month.  There are 81 bunkers on property, 79 on holes 1-18 and two practice bunkers.  We added sand to the large practice bunker nearest the Chipping Green and the 38 bunkers located nearest the putting surfaces.  At this point I've asked members of the Committee to listen for your feedback before we make any future decisions about adding more sand.

Here's a tweet showing how we installed the bunker sand utilizing our topdresser for a smooth and even application!

As we made our way thru the month of June we made height of cut adjustments to the fairways (a little more cushion under the ball) and rough (a little more rough to snag your ball).  We vented greens with a combination of needle and Samurai tines on a couple of occasions along with some wetting agent and light topdressing to aid with the stresses of summer.

Samurai Tines

Material Easily Removed

Like it Never Even Happened

We have continued to roll with an increased frequency resulting in smoother greens with faster speeds.  This week we slightly raised our height of cut to combat the heat stress of the past three days but with a favorable forecast for the upcoming holiday we will lower accordingly.

The next big thing on the horizon is aerification week starting next Tuesday, July 6!  I'm sure by now you've seen the club email reminding everyone of the schedule.  While the course is closed we will perform a deep verticut on all fairways, remove material, topdress with 450 tons of sand, and solid tine aerify.  Tees will be core aerified and topdressed.  We will hold off on aerification and topdressing of the practice facilities until Monday, July 12.

You may recall we first performed these cultural practices the first week of June two years ago. Click Here  And last year, we bypassed the solid tine fairway aerification in order to minimize the course closure as a result of the pandemic. Click Here

The biggest difference this year from the previous two is the decision to resume a fall putting green aerification which means we will not be aerifying the greens next week.  We will likely apply a light topdressing and wetting agent but mostly the greens will be getting a breather for a few days while we focus our attention on the labor intensive cultural practices to make our tees and fairways better.

That's all for now, we're mowing the warm-season native areas (broomsedge) this week while the cool-season fine fescue areas are in peak form.  So get out and enjoy your golf course, we've had several admirers of late. ;)


Big Snapper!

I love nature!

See you on the course,

Matthew Wharton, CGCS, MG