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.
- 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!
|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|
- 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