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Marking The Golf Course
A golf course is not complete unless it is marked properly and permanently for day-to-day play. Members cannot play under the Rules of Golf unless the course has its hazards, boundaries, obstructions, ground-under-repair, and ball-drops staked and painted according to the rules. All golf courses needs to be properly marked according to both general and …
The Great Beer Exchange....
Not really sure how it all started, but it's game on for the great beer exchange. This is one of the things I look forward to when we meet for a conference. David Phipps, GCSAA NW Regional Rep who lives in Oregon, which is a great craft beer state, got this started with me last year. So when it comes to meeting at conferences, it's Colorado vs Oregon. Zach Bauer from the Broadmoor in Colorado Springs is the third guy in our exchange. Zach and I exchange local flavors, and he does the CO vs OR thing with David like I do. Recently at the Golf Industry Show we did some more exchanging and really had some fun with this idea. It's just started to catch on over the last year and I certainly look forward to continuing The Great Beet Exchange.

(image)Zach Bauer, left of the Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, CO and David Phipps, right of GCSAA from Oregon make their exchange.
(image)I get a Marionberry Sour from Oregon City Brewing Company.

(image)David gets a 2016 La Folie Sour Brown Ale from New Belgium Brewing.
Busy couple of weeks
I made it to San Antonio for the Golf Industry Show and had a great time. The talks I was involved with went really well. The Great Debate was a debut light-hearted event meant to be educational but entertaining. We had a blast and the overflowing room did also. I heard a lot of positive comments throughout the rest of the week about the talk. One guy unsolicited said "was that the seminar with everyone laughing? I was in an architecture seminar next door and we were all jealous thinking we took the wrong seminar!" The other was in a booth on the trade show floor. Not as many people but just as much fun.

(image)Speaking engagementsAs I always do at GIS I spend a fair amount of time at TurfNet events. This year the Beer & Pretzels event had extra special meaning. We kicked off the Jerry Coldiron Embrace Life Awards This article sums it up perfectly: Press Release It was a very emotional night with awards given to some amazing people with stories we have all followed in the TurfNet forum over the years. We have a term called the "TurfNet Village" because we have formed a community that goes far beyond just an online forum. Another part of this wonderful evening was reuniting the ColdIrons with a student they had housed many years ago from England. That story is HERE There was a personal twist to that story since Josh Webber was my roommate for a couple of days. It was fun to meet one of the bright young men in our industry and be involved in the surprise. The TurfNet Emerald Challenge/Byrne Cup had lower attendance so instead of playing golf on a course against the Irish Greenkeepers we moved it to a Top Golf. That was a blast and I recommend you try one. Cheryl and I are looking forward to this event in Ireland come October.

(image)TurfNet events and Professor hi-jinks 
Meanwhile back at Mink we opened the greens for the first time all year. All except number 3 which is still frozen due to all the shade even after all the trees we removed. We will continue to open that green up to more sunlight in the future.The weather continues to be a roller coaster. 25 one day then 50 the next. Otis said his yard was full of robins so maybe we are over the hump? The rain and temperatures over the weekend certainly changed the color of the course with everything starting to turn a bit green again. Finally the much awaited hard fought project to clean out the old drainage ditches in the marshes began. This may not be on the radar of the golfers who play Mink Meadows but if the intended consequences of a healthy marsh come true every golfer will be thrilled. Less Mosquitoes. A better flowing marsh and having fish pools to support natural predators is in everyone's best interest.

(image)Marked up photo for environmental committee 
(image)Marsh and beach channel work

(image)Boat ride off
Over an inch of rain last night has made the course a little too soft to get around with the bigger trucks so we opted for smaller vehicles this afternoon.  Just means we make a few more trips but we keep the disturbed areas to a minimum.   

Owel' filling our small bucket loader with stump shavings and will load into a smaller cart that easily fits on our paths.   The holes will later be filled with soil from our compost area.  Then we will sod the disturbed areas.  

Club house work is moving along.  Setting some of the steal beams.  For the expanded patio.  

Trimming the hedge along the path that leads to 11 tee.   It had become quite over grown.   

  Wood chips and logs will be ground up later this year and used as mulch next year.   We have accumulated quite a lot of them.   

In closing I am proud to say that we made the news:  

Monarchs in the Rough was featured in the Midday Magazine news report by WAMC, a local NPR affiliate.  WAMC has a huge following and covers portions of New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont, New Jersey, New Hampshire and Pennsylvania. The segment came about because WAMC followed up on the press release Audubon International and the Environment Defence Fund recently issued about our partnership to develop Monarchs in the Rough. You can listen to Marcus Gray and myself in the segment by clicking below:

A special thanks to all of you at Rockland for your support.  We have shown that golf courses can be maintained at the highest level while providing areas for wildlife and pollinators.   

Tree Work and Stump Removal

  One of the main projects for this winter has been tree removal and trimming back underbrush and rhododendrons.  While I have detailed the trimming and removal in past posts, I have not adequately detailed the scope of the project that we have undertaken.

  Over the years a significant amount of trees have encroached on the playing area.  Some of these trees started out as volunteers and some have been there for years.  However, the nature of the tree removal has been to remove trees that are either decayed and dying or because they inhibit turf growth due to excessive shade.  By the time we are done, we will have removed about 100 large trees, primarily on the front nine.

(image)Some of the tree removal has required the service of professional arborists.  Felling 100 large trees is in itself a major project for our staff, but the work doesn't stop once the trees are down.  After the trees are down, they are cut up and the branches sent through the chipper.  If it is a hardwood, we cut the wood and split it into firewood where we use it to heat the maintenance facility.  If it is a softwood then we chip what we can and the rest is hauled off to the dump.

(image)Split firewood for heating the maintenance building and material being readied to be hauled away.  Once the tree is removed we are left with the stump.  If the stump is off in the woods, then we cut it flush and leave it.  If it is within the turf, then we remove the stump.  Generally, a large hole needs to be dug to get the stump loose so that it can be removed.  The resulting hole is filled in with dirt and sod is installed.  The stump is then hauled away to the dump.  Some of the larger stumps can take nearly a day to remove.  Leaving the stump is not an option (even if we grind it down) as the decaying wood makes growing grass difficult and eventually causes a hole to form.

(image)Roots being pruned from a large oak stump.
(image)A large hole needs to be dug to remove the stump.  This has been a major undertaking for our staff but one that will reap benefits far into the future.  Those that have seen our work have been excited about what they see.
Winter Project Update
Winter projects are moving right along this year. Over the past winters we have performed our spring greens aerification during the winter. We have experimented with different techniques so we can achieve our USGA recommended 20% surface disruption. During this time we exercise the most disruption allowing us to achieve our goals. This is very important during this time, our member play is down and we do close the greens for these agronomic programs.  This year we opted to target the top 1 inch of the green surface. We regularly test the top 4 inches and our test concluded we needed to be target the top. We used a machine that slices a 1 inch deep line and then is filled with sand right behind the unit. This is a wonderful way to have firm and fast greens during the summer months. For our second program, we will use our deep tine machine that will poke a hole 12 inches deep. We then will drop a line of sand and manually broom into the holes. This will help with drainage and increase the rooting on the greens. Once the deep tine program is complete (fingers crossed by next week), we will cover the greens until sometime in mid-March.

Other notable Projects:

  • Golf Course wide tree pruning. This will increase sight lines, shade mitigation and improve air flow. 
  • Curbs have been installed on 3 green, 4 green 5 green, 18 green, 9 green, and 10 tee along the cart path edge. This will cut down on wear and the staff having to repair every year. 
  • Fairways have been verti-cut, aerified, and top dressed and currently we are finishing up the deep tine.
  • Rough has been aerified
  • The rough around #5 green has been replaced with new sod.
  • Our new tee on #17 is coming along nicely and we hope to have this completed by March. 

(image)The Graden Machine in Action
(image)Pushing off left over debris

(image)Deep tine machine going 12 inches deep

(image)Sand ready to be pushed into the holes 

(image)Finished product(image)#18 green side curb addition
(image)#10 Tee curb addition

Messy Week

What a mess!   We've had rain in the gauge every day since last Thursday.  The downpour that started it last Thursday night took a big toll on bunkers.  100 players in an outing the following Friday morning stalled any repair efforts.  The forecast called for three more rainy days, making bunker work a poor use of time anyway.  Somehow we completed aeration between all the raindrops, but now we have real mess.  The bunkers are still a wreck, the grass has been growing for a week, and the greens have holes in them.  It's not a good time for me to ask for your thoughts on course conditions.

We were able to get the mowers out today, but had to dodge a number of wet areas.  Bunker repairs will start tomorrow morning at 6:00 AM and continue through the weekend.  Greens will recover quickly, but are just two days removed from surgery so please bear with us.  I think we will be back to normal very soon.  

Pictures from the aeration process...

(image)6:30 Tuesday morning Soil Relievers in the rain(image)Soil Reliever

(image)Even though we cover the sand,
rain water moves upward into the pile and
  humidity under the tarp soaks the sand


(image)We spread 60 tons of sand over 150,000 square feet
(image)Our machine puts 1/2" diameter holes
3" deep on 2"x 2" spacing(image)The sand wasn't as dry as we'd like, but the
brush got the holes full.  We will keep brushing
and blowing until all excess sand is removed.

Spring Fever, Sally Field, & Special Gift!
Hello and welcome to The Greenkeeper!  Today is Thursday, February 22nd and spring is in the air all around the Queen City!  Cherry blossoms are blooming, trees are budding, it's crazy when you think we are setting record highs and 3 weeks ago my last post mentioned how cold winter had been.  Such is life in the Transition Zone.
Since returning from the Golf Industry Show on the 9th the average high temperature in Charlotte has been 67 degrees with 5 days reaching at least 70 degrees or more, including a record smashing 82 degrees this past Friday (Feb 16)!
So many records broken or tied today. #cltwx #climate
— Brad Panovich (@wxbrad) February 16, 2018
And we even hit 80 degrees yesterday to establish another record!  You may be wondering what impact, if any this early warm-up may have on our bermudagrass tees and fairways.  Surely we all remember from our high school biology class that plants produce their own energy via photosynthesis, but what about a plant that's been in hibernation.  There isn't any photosynthesis taking place on the biscuit brown canopy of dormant turf.  Bermudagrass relies on stored energy in the form of carbohydrates to assist with the process of breaking dormancy and producing new shoots and leaves.  Once the plant fully exits dormancy will it be able to resume production of its own energy.

As you can imagine, if the plant wakes from dormancy too early using its carbohydrate reserves in the process, what will happen if the plant is once again subjected to freezing cold temperatures sending it back into a dormant state.  Such is life in the Transition Zone.

We've seen this scenario play out several times before, to the point I'm beginning to think it's the "new normal".  Each year a portion of winter is too warm and just when everyone is fully smitten with spring fever, Old Man Winter reminds us that March, and even April can have its fair share of cold.  I wish I could tell you this warmth is here to stay, but unfortunately there already is talk about a potential change in the pattern for early March.  Until then, I suggest you dust off those clubs and enjoy the course.  I know that's what Matt Claunch and I plan to do today as we have scheduled our first "course inspection" of 2018 for later this afternoon.  

Earlier I mentioned my return from the Golf Industry Show.  This year's conference was a whirlwind of education and activities.  It was a treat to witness Ernie Els receive the Old Tom Morris Award from GCSAA and I collected my own little piece of hardware when I picked up the Kaminski Award from the good folks at Golf Course Industry and Aquatrols.  Thank you all for your kind congratulatory words, it was an honor to both represent Carolina Golf Club at GIS and accept this recognition knowing it's all because of how we communicate.(image)You Like Me!
Upon returning from GIS I immediately walked the course to inspect conditions and assess where things stood considering the cold pattern we had endured.  Overall I was very pleased and shared my observations in a string of tweets linked below.  
General observations from my course walk this morning @CGC1929!
1) Course is saturated after 2.84" rainfall since Feb 4. #cltwx
2) Unwanted annual winter grasses beginning to show ill effects of selective herbicide application end of Jan.
— Matthew Wharton (@CGCGreenkeeper) February 12, 2018

3) Green stolons currently present in dormant Bermudagrass taken from area that endured winter injury 2015.
— Matthew Wharton (@CGCGreenkeeper) February 12, 2018

4) Greens look good overall w/ segregation & mottling commonly apparent this time of year.
5) Current warm/wet conditions requiring a preventive #Stressguard application today for good measure. #petridish #MaintenanceMonday
— Matthew Wharton (@CGCGreenkeeper) February 12, 2018
Since that time we've been busy applying all our pre-emergent herbicide to the tees, fairways, and rough for management of unwanted crabgrass and goosegrass.  
Team continuing to apply preemergent today for management of unwanted crabgrass & goosegrass. Blue dye in foam helping w/ application accuracy. #CGCturf
— Matthew Wharton (@CGCGreenkeeper) February 15, 2018
The team has also been in the process of tidying up mulched areas on the golf course, ensuring we have a fresh edge and smooth transition from turf to mulch under our hardwood trees and pine straw underneath the conifers.  Of course if this warmer weather continues much longer we might have to think about mowing bermudagrass turf, I can't believe I just typed that in February.  Such is life in the Transition Zone.

One final closing note, yesterday I received a message from a former employee.  Hernee Gift Palabrica was one of our International Interns from Philippines and worked here the entire 2015 season.  Since returning home to Philippines he has been working at Iloilo Golf and Country Club, the oldest golf course in Philippines built by English and Scottish expatriates in 1907!  
(image)Hernee Gift Palabrica (L) and Joeven Guilaran (R)(image)Outstanding Contributions!

Seems Gift has ascended to the role of Assistant Ground Supervisor and received some accolades of his own from the club.  I'm extremely happy and proud of him for the accomplishment, but even more happy he maintains our connection and shared his good fortune with me and the team.  Well done Gift!

See you on the course,

Matthew Wharton, CGCS, MG
Progress Report In Pictures

As spring approaches we are scrambling to get some things done before the grass starts growing.  Last week we got over 5" of rain so our focus shifted to things we could do with soggy ground.  Hopefully things will dry up enough for us to complete some winter weed control and some drainage work.  Bunker repairs are also high on our wish list, but conditions haven't cooperated.  The guys have done a fabulous job on tree removals, cart path repairs, and equipment maintenance.   Read on for a few pictures of our progress...

(image)Mike runs a tight ship
(image)This is the machine we haul topdressing sand and bunker sand with.  It was
bought in 2000 and needs a little rust knocked off the hopper.
   (image)Mike inside the big spreader prepping for a paint job      (image)Rust converter did it's job and paint is going down

(image)The finished product.  Ready to haul bunker sand and topdressing
(image)Richard got pretty good with the concrete saw we rented
(image)The backhoe got some nice new teeth (image)The Kubota got it's front end fixed.....again.  They didn't design this thing
to succeed.  It's a regular visitor in Mike's shop. 

(image)We removed sections heaved up from roots.  The roots were removed
and the sections were replaced.(image)No wonder it broke.  1" thick on bare dirt 5' from a tree.

The big show that is... our national conference where everything in golf course maintenance can be found.   I spent a lot of time with vendors.  Meeting some new ones and seeing some old ones.   

We have been using a software program called Trims for many years.  It tracks labor, equipment, inventories, budgets and many other items.  I use this all the time.   For  example,  in 2016 we spent 1910.5 hours raking bunkers or $29,691.00.   We spent 1285.40 hours mowing greens or $24,347.00.   In 2017 we spent 1675 hours raking bunkers or $26,383 and spent 1243 hours mowing greens or $22,960.   Most people are surprised that we spend more time and money raking bunkers (hazards) then we do mowing greens.  Except for other superintendents who know this all too well.    In any event it was nice seeing Susan and Lee again.  They are based in Arizona so I only get a chance to say hello once a year.  They are also constantly updating and improving their product.   More to follow on that front.  I have some work to do to improve my Daily Job assignments using trims.  

This year they built a green to show the latest technology in bunker maintenance, construction and design.   I hope to put this to good use in the near future when we start our bunker project.  

Lastly,  On my plane ride home I had the opportunity to meet the Rutgers "Turf Bowl"  winners.  Definitely future leaders in the turf business.   I was impressed that they were able to keep the check in one piece!!!   

Southern Hospitality
This weekend I have had the opportunity to experience firsthand just how welcoming and helpful my profession is.  I had the wonderful privilege of hosting a group of  11 talented superintendents from Spain (in Spain their title for Superintendent is Greenkeeper) during their first visit to Texas. The first group consisted of David Gomez, Luis …
Early Delivery for the Upcoming Season

  Getting the course ready for the upcoming season does not just include working on the course, but also planning for some of the smaller details that tend to get taken for granted.  One of those small details is ball washers.

(image)Par Aide Deluxe Ball Washer (HFCC's will be brown)  Lee Howell from Corbin Turf just delivered all new ball washers for the course.  Our old washers were just to a point where fixing and repainting them no longer made fiscal sense.  However, we did get our monies worth as the old washers were on the course for approximately 30 years!  Since we had such good experience with the previous washers, we chose to get the same brand and style again.

(image)Lee Howell of Corbin Turf with Asst. Supt Chris Cowan delivering new ball washers.  With a desire to have our course accessories blend more into the environment, the Greens & Grounds committee chose to have the washers painted in brown instead of the standard green.  I've had a good look at them and they will look great on the course. 
Just another week of roller coaster weather
After a nice warm weekend with golfers afoot on Saturday it rained Sunday but it was warmish at least. A predicted dusting for Tuesday turned into snow all day and about 3 inches. Hard to tell since it was blowing 30+ mph all day. Overnight temps in the teens and snow cover reminds us it is still winter.

(image)Bill O'Brien Jr diagnosing a leak. 

(image)Potential subnivean tunnel?
I often get asked "is the snow good for the course?" As with most things in life there is rarely a straight forward answer, but in short, yes. It acts as an insulating layer protecting from the extreme cold and wind. I discussed in an earlier post about how Twitter is filled with talk of people having to water their courses this winter because it is so dry. This tweet from Jared Kalina at Ballyneal in Colorado cracked me up:

(image)from Twitter

 We are fortunate that we generally do not have to worry about drying out in the winter. We get a lot of rain and some snow but stay moist enough. I discussed the perils of rain on frozen ground and the damage ice can cause earlier this winter. How does snow act as an insulator? This winter I learned a bit about the interface between snow and earth. I follow this blog from Naturalist Mary Holland from Vermont. The title is Naturally Curious.
(image)blog postFrom the interweb: The subnivean zone is the area between the subsurface of the ground and the bottom of the snow pack. [under the snow pack] the snow that lands on the ground sublimates; that is, changes from a solid into a gas without going through the melting stage. Sublimation is prompted by heat radiating from the earth. Warm, moist water vapor rising into the bottom layer of snow cools, condenses, and refreezes into tightly packed, rounded ice crystals. [at 8 inches of snow the subnivean zone remains within a degree or two of 32 F regardless of the temperature and weather conditions in the outside world. For the full site click HERE

This zone is mostly described for the critters that live within it and the predators that feed on them. But it explains why snow is a great thing for turf. 32 degrees at all times. Perfect climate control. It would keep us from building feet of frost, and/or drying out. I remember one year getting almost 3 feet of snow on unfrozen ground. It lasted for almost two months and we had barely turned off color so when it melted we rolled right into spring. On a walk yesterday I stumbled upon some marks in the snow and it prompted this post.

(image)intersecting paths?

(image)Beach art

We lost another early house from the founding of the association. Possibly an original from 1964? It stayed in the family at least. Should be interesting to see what is put up in its place.

(image)out with the old.....
Next week I will be off to a conference in San Antonio. I was asked to be involved in a couple of talks again this year. One is a new light-hearted  game show style talk titled The Great Debate. there are a handful of us that will debate some turf topics with another Superintendent acting as the MC/moderator. The other is a technology session happening on the trade show floor. I am sure there will be lots of activity on Twitter about it and I will more then likely be tweeting about other stuff happening at the show so follow along if you do not want to wait for a recap when I get back.
(image)Talk at the Golf Industry Show

What we do in the winter

Here in the golf course maintenance department we get asked this question a lot. I thought I would update you on a few items that we are currently working on and how things look.

We had great snow cover on the turf during the periods of extremely cold temperatures. We were very thankful for that and also I am very glad that we made the decision to irrigate the turf in late December. I had an opportunity to tour the golf course late last week and the turf at this midway point looks to be in very good condition.

Now to the inside of the golf course maintenance facility. Blake Helland our equipment tech has been extremely busy working on every piece of equipment that we have. Blake's job is to bring each item in and service it. Very similar to taking your vehicle in for a oil change. Blake also inspects the units at this time and repairs any safety items, fixes any mechanical items that need attention. This could be a 3 hour time on one item and the next item might take several days.

Superintendent's Nate Tegtmeier and Mitch Meyers along with 1st assistant Craig Connell are busy finishing up the reel grinding and re-assembly of the units. Once this is completed they have to attach them back to the mowers. They have over 70 mowing units to do this to. Bearings are checked and replaced. Reels and bedknives are ground to manufacturer's specifications and then they are ready to go. Here in these photos the guys are working on the John Deere fairway mowing units. This is a critical step to make sure everything is in proper alignment and ready for the upcoming mowing season.

Rueben is very busy painting in our paint booth. All ballwashers, stands, garbage containers, rope stakes, driving range bag stands are sanded then Rueben paints them. Pedro, Jeff and Axel do the prep work and then they do the assembling of the items to have them ready to go. They look like new once they are completed.

Tanner, Zach, Arturo, Enrique and Rueben are also busy in the wood working shop. They are very busy making new tee markers, fixing and finishing divot boxes, all rope posts and red stakes.

In these photos Tanner is taking off the finish from last year and then Zach sands the posts.

The wooden posts or tee marker is then handed off to Arturo and Rueben to have the grooves routed in them and a final sanding.

Once this is done then Enrique brands our logo into the item and it comes over to the main shop to be stained/painted and finished.

These guys have been doing it this way for many years. They have to be well organized and ready to go so each step is completed on time. I think they do a wonderful job of doing that.

Nate, Mitch and myself have also been very busy working on chemical orders, fertilizer orders, and flower bed design and ordering. Jeff M. has been inventorying all of our equipment and updating our data base so that all items are recorded along with serial numbers and model numbers. Once this is done Jeff has the dubious task of working on the Safety Data Sheets and updating them for every product that we use in our department.

All of this work takes a lot of time. The guys also take much needed time off so that they are ready for another season.
Heads Up

Be prepared for the possibility that the fairways change color in the next few days.  Our annual application to control kyllinga was applied Wednesday and it typically causes some discoloration to the zoysia.  This symptom lasts a few days and then disappears.  It is not a pleasant look, but the small set back is much less trouble than a crop of green kyllinga.  Kyllinga that was already up and visible will soon be much more visible as it will be dead.  The product we applied will also help prevent crabgrass and goosegrass which we all know and love.


(image)Kyllinga years ago before we found a preventive solution
(image)Same fairway from the other direction.  Kyllinga free

Freezing and Thawing
The best recipe for healthy turf in the spring is keeping a solid blanket of snow out on the golf course all winter.  We did have a late January thaw but all of the greens remained covered in snow.  This latest February rain and warm thaw had about everything 1/2 melted during the day then it all freezes again at night.    

One of the danger zones in the spring is when we get some upper 40s and lower 50s with melting snow then a cold front comes in and temps drop into the teens or single digits which is called a flash freeze.  This can cause the cells in the tiny little grass plants to freeze and expand killing the grass.  The crown of the plant is the life of the plant and we need it to not expand with ice while it is coming out of dormancy.

It’s very common to get a lot of rain in late February and March for a few days then that freezes which isn’t the best scenario.  The best formula in the spring is once the snow starts to melt you want it to keep melting completely before refreezing again.  The freezing and thawing cycle is the worst.  We had some really bad ice damage and crown dehydration back in 2002 and 2003.

2002 - 7 greens had winter damage.

Let's keep our fingers cross for a quick warm up once spring arrives.  

Should We Do It?FEBRUARY 16, 2018By Elliott Dowling, agronomist, Northeast Region

Playing golf on soft or partially thawed greens can result in damage like excessive ball marks, thin turf or footprints that linger into spring.
Excitement for the upcoming golf season begins to build during late winter. While some golf facilities in the Northeast close for winter, others continue to allow play depending on the weather. When the weather is favorable, allowing play usually is a fairly simple decision. However, the decision becomes much more difficult when the weather fluctuates between extremes. Mild and sunny days in February and March might be enticing to golfers, but lasting turfgrass damage can result when winter play is allowed under the wrong conditions.
Playing golf during highly variable winter weather can result in turf damage. During late winter, cold snaps often follow periods of warm temperatures. Under these conditions, turf is extremely vulnerable to injury from traffic. Play during a sudden thaw can be especially damaging because the upper 1 or 2 inches of soil can defrost while the underlying soil remains frozen. Traffic under these conditions can shear turf roots at the interface between the thawed and frozen layers. Such shearing can compromise turf health come spring.
Frozen soils also cannot drain. When precipitation occurs, the surface of frozen soils will remain saturated and prone to injury. Soils also dry slowly during late winter due to short day length and cool temperatures, so even unfrozen soils will be slow to dry and firm up after precipitation. Soft surfaces are more vulnerable to damage from foot traffic, ball marks, rutting and compaction.
It is important to remember, no matter how thawed or frozen the soil is, turf is unlikely to be growing during winter. Grass that isn’t growing cannot recover from damage until spring. Therefore, turf damage that occurs during winter can have a cumulative effect that lasts until warm weather arrives and the grass is able to recover.
Before allowing winter play ask, what is the purpose of winter play? All golf facilities welcome additional rounds, but sometimes allowing play during winter presents more costs than benefits. Keep in mind that winter play under the wrong conditions may result in a net loss due to the expense of repairs or slow spring greenup.

TurfNet TV - Latest Video is Live...
My latest video for is live. In this video I show what happens to the Inside the Ropes area of the Golf Industry Show when things are all wrap up. Pretty interesting stuff. It's all about recycle and reuse to help a local low budget golf course. Thanks to Justin Apel of the Golf Course Builders Association and Ward Kirk, GCS of Rebecca Creek Golf Club for participating in this neat video. To view the video click HERE

Tee Expansion

A quick look at the divots on the lower tee on #17 made it clear that few people ever use the right side of this tee.  With a few feet available between the left side of the tee and the cart path, we were able to give this tee a slight expansion. This will increase the usable teeing area, while improving visibility of the putting surface from the tee.

Despite some less than ideal weather (aka wintry mix), the guys did a great job of knocking this project out.

Once again, we were able to use some Bentgrass sod we harvested from our nursery, thus the material cost for this project was negligible.
Cold Start, GIS, & Texas Two-Step!
Hello and welcome to The Greenkeeper!  Today is Friday, February 2nd and happy Groundhog Day everyone.  I wish I could tell you the cold start to 2018 was over and an early spring was around the corner, but I'm hearing reports the groundhog saw his shadow which means six more weeks of winter. :(  Speaking of cold starts did you know January 2018 was the coldest January in Charlotte since 2014.  And although the Januaries of 2010, 2011 and 2014 were all colder than this year, the drastic difference between this year and last (January 2017) was one of vast proportion.
(image)Mean Avg Jan Temps - Charlotte 1879-2018The area circled in red indicates the mean average January temperatures for the years 2008 - 2018.  Just look at the far right and notice the drastic plunge from Jan 2017 to Jan 2018.  No wonder rounds played were down nearly 50% from a year ago (589 vs 1153).

(image)Unfortunately it doesn't appear to be warming up anytime soon either as long term forecasts are expecting a return of cold, Canadian air to make its way into the eastern half of the U.S. for a significant portion of February.  Considering Feb 2017 was one of the all-time warmest Februaries in Charlotte history I guess this month's graph may eventually look similar to the one above, at least the course should be well rested when spring finally arrives.  

If there is a silver lining to be found within this cold winter, the lack of activity has allowed the team to accomplish several important course care items without undue delay.  Recently the entire network of cart paths (over 4 miles) were edged and the overgrowth removed.  We have been busy raising and leveling irrigation heads around greens, patching all tee and fairway divots, and making selective herbicide applications to remove unwanted winter grasses from our dormant bermudagrass playing surfaces.  Later this month we will apply our annual pre-emergent herbicide to all tees, fairways, and rough to prevent crabgrass and goosegrass from infiltrating our playing surfaces this coming spring and summer.  As you can see, our work is never done.

This coming Monday I will be heading off to the annual Golf Industry Show in San Antonio, Texas where I will attend accredited lectures and seminars at the education conference, view the largest gathering of exhibitors to discuss the latest products and services in turf and facility care at the trade show, and represent my chapter, Carolinas GCSA as official voting delegate at the GCSAA Annual Meeting and Election.  But despite the busy schedule next week there is one fun thing that's going to take place.
Yes, we're a week away from #GCITweetUp18. Yes, we're excited. Yes, you should come celebrate the Super Social Media Award winners and the industry's splendid use of social media. @Aquatrols #GIS18
— GOLF COURSE INDUSTRY (@GCImagazine) January 31, 2018
Once again Golf Course Industry magazine and Aquatrols are hosting the Super Social Media Awards and this year I was selected as the recipient of the Kaminski Award for Leadership.  I was totally shocked when I received the news for I have never thought of my social media use and communication efforts as anything more than my means of conversing with you about Carolina Golf Club.  I had no idea those efforts have made a positive impact on others to the point they would bestow recognition upon me.  It's very humbling to say the least.  GCI's Senior Editor, Guy Cipriano wrote a very nice piece about my receiving this award and I shared it on Twitter when first announced a couple weeks back.  In case you missed it you can find it here.  America's Greenkeeper.

In other but related news, the Greenkeeping Team at the Home of Golf (St. Andrews Links Trust) are also being recognized for their communication and social media prowess with an award in the category of Best Use of Social Media.  Recently their Director of Greenkeeping, Gordon Moir sat down for an interview to discuss the type of work typically accomplished on the historic links in winter months (there's something needing to be done no matter where your course is located) and how their blog, has helped them share their message of environmentalism around the globe.  The podcast interview is just under twenty-three minutes, and Gordon does possess a Scottish accent, but if you love the Old Course it's definitely an educational listen.  Hope you enjoy!  CLICK HERE 

Well, that's all for now.  Time to prep the course as much as possible today as we prepare for a bitterly cold night tonight in advance of tomorrow's Saturday Shotgun.  Sunday's forecast appears to be another wet one so maybe more Super Bowl viewing than golf.  Feel free to follow my adventures in San Antonio next week on Twitter and I'll be back to recap soon.

See you on the course,

Matthew Wharton, CGCS, MG

Winter Opportunities
It seems like we are finally getting a winter this year in North Texas!  As a superintendent, my goal is to have the course open and ready to play as much as possible, but colder weather can mean less rounds played, so this opens up opportunities to address projects that have arisen. During these winter …
On the right path...

The break in the weather this past week made it feel like spring may not be all that far away.  With the ground thawing out, the guys were able to strip, prep and sod a number of cart path ends around the golf course.

With all cart traffic being funneled into these pinch points, the turf doesn't get much rest.  Over the years, we have tried a number of products that are intended to reduce wear and compaction in these areas, all with limited success.

We were also able to swap out a few pieces of sod on #18 approach, which had Poa, for Bentgrass harvested from our nursery.

As we've said in the past, the benefit to sodding now is that the sod will root without needing to be nursed, as it does most other times of the year.

The first day that the Pro-shop will open is Tuesday, March 6th.   Only a few more weeks and if the forecast holds true we may be able to actually enjoy the course.  I know it's wishful thinking (and a long shot) that things will stay this warm but I'm hoping for an early spring.   We just had 7 inches of snow after all.  Club House work is steadily progressing: 

A big day last week when they poured the concrete deck. 

It took a few men and some coordination from the various contractors. 

Finished product looks great. 

Inside is moving along also.  Bar area is starting to take shape. 

View of the course from the new deck.  Too much snow to open but the forecast is for a couple of warm days.  That should take care of the remain snow.   Hope the warm trend continues. 

One issue we will have to jump on this spring is Moss on greens.  We need to make sure we get this under control before it becomes a bigger problem. 
An Attitude of Gratitude
The first few months of 2018 have been full so far.  Winning the Turfnet sponsored by Syngenta 2017 Superintendent of the Year Award, and having it be the first ever tie, therefore allowing me to share the recognition with Rick Tegtmeier, who is an accomplished and respected superintendent, has been a crescendo in my career …
Irrigation maintenance

With a whole lot of cold weather this winter, concerns about the dog days of summer can easily become a distant memory.  However, rather than waiting until we really need the irrigation system in six months, now is a much better time to address some issues. 

Over the years, we have discovered that some of the system's isolation valves no longer function correctly.  When there's a problem (such as a sprinkler getting stuck on) an inability to isolate an individual tee or green means that we may have to shut down the irrigation to several holes while the problem is addressed.

We recently installed two new isolation valves for the practice area and one new valve for #12 green.  Hopefully we won't have a need to use these this upcoming season, but it is good to know that they are in place and will work properly if we do.  We think of projects like this as fire prevention, which is certainly preferred to putting out a fire!
Automatically Updating Hargraves ETo, Pace Turf Growth Potential, and Smith Kerns Dollar Spot Model Google Spreadsheet
Last week I decided to learn to code so that I could pull weather data off the internet and into my spreadsheets. This would allow my weather related models to update by themselves without me having to intervene. I have enough stuff to do than worry about updating weather data manually when computer can do it for me.After some trial and error I was able to pull past weather data and a 7

As we come to the end of our first month of the new year we have made steady progress.  Our tree project is coming to an end.  All the selected trees have been taken down or pruned and stumps have been ground.  We still have to pick up some logs and clean up the stump shavings. Next, we will fill the holes with soil from our compost area and then sod.  We will do that as weather permits.   The hedge and fence in our parking lot have been removed.  The area looks much neater.  Work in the club house is also progressing.  Perhaps the most important piece "the bar" was starting to be installed yesterday.  Who knows what February will bring but what ever happens we will keep making progress. 

 Perhaps the most important part of the renovation?   I can see Artie serving a cold one pretty soon!!!!

Along with the Hedge being trimmed we took down this unsightly fence.   As they say you only get one chance to make a first impression and I would hate to have someone pull up to this.   

See what one warm Saturday can do.   Mr. McFadden, Mr. Roger Daly, and Mr. Mario Mastrotto getting some fresh air and exercise.  Can't say as I blame them, it was a beautiful afternoon. 
This handsome fellow had the same idea.  Honestly, I can't  tell if it is a Cooper's hawk or a Sharp-shined?   Any birders out there who want to take a stab at it? 

 Lastly and most importantly we are "ice" free.   There still is some frost in the ground but for the most part we are looking good.  We are by no means out of the woods as it pertains to winter damage but so far so good.   Keeping my fingers crossed. 
Update...Aeration Plan and Spring Notes
Greens aeration is going to have to be modified to contend with this rain.  Much like washing a car, scheduling aeration causes rain.  We need things to be bone dry in order to get the sand brushed into the aeration holes.  As it stands now (Tuesday, April 25), we are going to move forward today with step 1 which involves a deep tine aeration.  We'll move steps 2, 3, and 4 back one day.  The course will be closed until 10:00 Thursday when we will open just the front nine.  The entire course will be up and running Friday....we hope.
(image)The contractor is working through the rain today

The practice tee grass will soon be ready for use.  We typically open it up around May 1st which is a little ahead of when it's really ready, but close enough to manage.  We still have a lot of divots from last fall waiting on warmer weather to heal.  Adding more divots before the grass is growing would leave us with very little turf.  Thank you for your patience.  We are trying to ensure that you have grass to practice from throughout the growing season.  

The course is getting greener every day and will soon be in peak condition.  We experienced a very dry stretch that was finally broken with last Thursday's rain.  The warmer temperatures and this rain have created a flush of growth and color.  The zoysia, which is still coming out of hibernation is now starting to produce it's annual crop of seed.  This is not something we enjoy as the seeds are difficult to mow off and are somewhat unsightly.  This seed phase will last a few weeks and then things will settle in for the summer.  The rough is growing at a rate that is well beyond what we can keep up with.  It is not our intent to toughen up the course, but the spring flush is a fact of life.  This flush, like the zoysia seeds, will soon settle down and we'll be back to normal.

We are still searching for an Assistant Superintendent and/or a Spray Tech.  The golf market is such that many of the qualified candidates for this position have left the industry in the past few years.  Consequently, there are a number of very nice courses in the Richmond - DC market that are in the same boat we're in.  I have a great group of people now, but we are in need of one more skilled person to assist with all the technical aspects of the job.  We are slowly getting some interest and working through the interview process. We have a great opportunity for someone passionate about the golf course business.
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