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A Busy but Exciting Time for HP

With the recent approval of The Legacy Plan for the South Side, the Grounds team and I have been very busy with final winter preparations on the golf course and grounds, along with whole host of activities surrounding the Legacy plan on the both the South and North sides. 2018 will be an exciting and busy time!

Golf Course Operations:

The staff continues to move forward with the following tasks:

(image)"Deep Tine Aeration
  • Leaf removal. Which will continue well into December
  • Final fall Herbicide applications to all 70 Acres of rough
  • Winterization of the irrigation system
  • Collaboration with the Grounds Commitee utilizing Ross drawings and Master plan for new 5 year plan for golf course and grounds
  • Staffing for 2018 season
(image)5-year plan template

Legacy Plan:


  • Landscape and irrigation and plans are approved
  • Staff will begin removing dated landscape at front and rear of clubhouse
  • Developing timelines for landscape and irrigation install
  • Collaboration with multiple contractors
(image) Landscape Plans-North(image)Dated Landscape Rear Clubhouse

Legacy Plan:


(image)Practice Area

Logistics- The South phase scope of work is significant and the compact site will pose many challenges

there are many details to work through.

Collaboration- working with multiple contractors and stakeholders to ensure a successful project.

Communication-use of multiple platforms to share information.

Execution- project management while maintaining golf course and grounds.

Over the coming weeks please check in or subscribe to our Grounds Blog:

Follow us on twitter: @pobrienhpgcc

Or get caught up with daily HP emails concerning the Legacy Plan

As we head into the Holiday Season I would like to wish the entire HP membership and Grounds team a very Happy Thanksgiving!

If there are any questions or feedback please email me:


Pat O'Brien

Grounds Superintendent


(image)Posted with Blogsy
Grind Time

Obviously, one of the most critical parts of the golf course operation is having mowers which cut properly.  While a homeowner's lawn may be cut with a rotary mower at 2", the greens are maintained with reel mowers, often set as low as 1/10".  When you are cutting this tight, there is little margin for error.  Height adjustments are made to the thousandth of an inch, and every mower is checked after each use.

As we are about to enter the season when mowers are overhauled by equipment technicians, the timing was perfect for us to host a seminar on the subject of reel maintenance.  This event, sponsored by Turf Equipment and Supply Company gave instructor Jim Nedin a chance to go into the topic in detail with a small group of local technicians. 

The morning session was spent in the classroom, discussing the theory of best practices for reel setup, along with common causes of improper cutting.  To maintain a precise, clean cut, there are many factors which need to be taken into consideration.  A technician needs to be aware of reel diameter, number of blades on a reel, bedknife options, and roller options. 

Then the afternoon session gave the group the chance to watch Jim as he gave a hands-on demonstration.  With a walking greensmower costing close to what a Nissan Versa does, proper care is a must.

We were happy to open our doors for this event.  It was a great opportunity for individuals to learn, while sharing their thoughts and experiences with others.
Vole Management in Turf
One of the biggest issues for superintendents in the mountain west are those little pesky voles. Voles are rodents and a relative of the mouse. There are over 100 species of voles. The meadow vole is responsible for the bulk of the damage in a turfgrass situation. Voles are herbivores and the majority of their diet consists of grass stems and leaves. In the summertime voles migrate to thick taller grassy areas for protection against predators. However, when snowfall arrives they have protection under the snow and this is the time they migrate to fine turf areas and cause damage. This makes golf course turf very susceptible to wintertime damage. Voles cause turf damage by chewing grass plants extremely low to the ground and can chew so low they cause damage to the crown of the plant. Voles also create runways in the winter, first by chewing the plants, then by using these to forage for additional food each day. These runways can see extensive traffic throughout the winter as voles forage each day on 10-15 trips.

(image)Vole Damage in a fairway situation with no Milorganite applied. 
Most of the time voles don’t directly kill the turf plant, although if they damage the crown extensively it is possible. The main issue with vole damage is the slow recovery of the turf in the spring. With the combination of cold soil temperatures and damaged turf plants, recovery can be extremely slow. The other issue with vole damage is its effect on playability. When a golf ball lands in one of the vole tunnels, it can nestle down and make for a very poor lie. So until complete recovery happens playability suffers.

(image)Vole Damage to Kentucky Bluegrass tee surrounds. The tee surface received an application of Milorganite and sand topdressing and is not touched!

Controlling voles is extremely difficult if not impossible. Over the year’s superintendents have tried many different products with minimal success. One product I found which shows some vole repellency is Milorganite fertilizer. I discovered this primarily by accident. I have used Milorganite fertilizer for many years as a dormant feed on greens, tees, and fairways. What I didn’t realize was all those years of apply Milorganite, I was also repelling voles in those areas. 

(image)All the years we applied Milorganite to the fairways we were getting
a side benefit of vole control, which we really discovered in 2014.
This came to light during the winter of 2014-15. That fall we had early snow cover and only finished 11 fairways with our Milorganite application. That spring we had extensive vole damage on fairways that didn’t receive the Milorganite application. We also noticed that spring that late topdressing applications also reduced vole damage. With this in mind, we decided to apply Milorganite to the rough as well in the fall of 2015. We also set-up some small test areas with check plots to test our theory. 
(image)Some testing I performed in some grassy hollows which every year suffers
from vole damage. No Milorganite applied on the left and 0.75#N/M applied
to the right. Totally clean from any damage with the Milorganite.In the spring of 2016 we were amazed at almost the complete lack of vole damage on the property. Our test plots also show without question that Milorganite certainly repels vole activity. We used rate of 0.75#/N/M in all the rough and in our test areas. The results were fantastic. Not only do you repel voles, you also get the benefits of a great dormant fertilizer application HERE: . Getting two things accomplished with one product, that is a big plus!
Veteran's Day 2017

This year takes on a special meaning to this day with the passing of Beth's brother Lawrence Brewer this past April. He proudly served his country in the Air Force in Vietnam. To all of our members, families and friends who served and or currently serving, I appreciate the sacrifices you made for all of us.

Seasons Change!
Hello and welcome to "The Greenkeeper"!  Today is Friday, November 10th and much has changed since my last update.  We wrapped up a warm and mostly dry (3.76 inches rainfall) October with a fabulous Fall Member-Guest and Tough Day.  We encountered our first "official" frost on Monday, October 30th but only in the rough as closely mowed areas remained frost free that morning due to soil temperatures.  The frost did manage to initiate the dormancy process in the rough and over several days things began to change.  
The contrast between the rough & closely mowed areas intensifies each day! #FridayFeeling #pure #CGCturf 👌🏻
— Matthew Wharton (@CGCGreenkeeper) November 3, 2017
Each year as the color begins to fade in the rough I receive a few comments and questions.  The color contrast creates a unique look to the course that many find appealing, albeit none of us wish it looked that way year round.  I'm also asked why it turns brown in such an irregular pattern.  The short answer is convection, but rather than attempt to explain that phenomenon I thought I would link a one page article that will satisfy your curiosity better than I can. CLICK HERE to learn why the rough looks like "Tiger Stripes" each year after the first frost.

Pretty cool huh, I keep thinking our good friend Brad Panovich is going to feature the frost/convection/tiger stripes phenomenon on the news one evening, definitely a good science nerdy segment just waiting to happen.  Could even use some cool footage of Carolina and the Charlotte skyline, just saying.

Last weekend closed the books on the 2017 Tournament Season with a thrilling sudden death playoff finish to the annual Carolina Invitational.  Our winners this year were the team of Joe Jaspers and Jim "Bubba" Aughtry with a winning score of -13.  
(image)Jim Aughtry and Joe Jaspers
They defeated River Run's Steve Harwell and Greensboro's Justin Tereshko when Jaspers calmly sank a short but breaking putt for birdie on No. 18 moments after Harwell's relatively short birdie bid stayed out.  This was the third Invitational title for the team of Jaspers and Aughtry having previously won in 2009 and 2012.  If you're thinking the name Tereshko sounds familiar it's because earlier this year he won the North Carolina Amateur contested at River Run CC after previously finishing runner-up each of the past two years.   

The golf course definitely held it's own with the strong field only playing to a stroke average of 70.71 in round 1 and 69.89 in round 2.  Tough hole locations were definitely the talk of the competitors but Mother Nature didn't make it any easier with a back-door cold front bringing cooler temperatures on the heels of near record highs earlier in the week.  Saturday morning was also a bit breezy as the front arrived making it difficult on the players.  Our own Stephen Woodard and Brett Boner finished 5th after a brilliant final round 64, unfortunately the defending champions got off to a slow start on day 1 that left them too far back.
What was already a strong 💪🏻 test of golf has been made more challenging w/ today's weather. Good luck to all! #cltwx #CarolinaInvitational
— Matthew Wharton (@CGCGreenkeeper) November 4, 2017
Keeping on the subject of change, one other is the recent time change.  The end of Daylight Saving Time each year signals a change to our range usage procedures.  For those unfamiliar with our "off-season" policies we close access to the Back Tee (far end of practice range) and all participation at the Primary Tee is limited to mats only Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays.  We overseeded the Primary Tee and will open the grass for use Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays weather permitting.  This has worked well the past few years enabling folks to enjoy hitting from natural turf through the winter months while protecting and preserving turf for use come winters end.  In other words, our tee simply isn't large enough to accommodate daily use throughout the winter when turf isn't growing and recovering.  Thank you for your understanding and cooperation.

Before I go, I have one more change to announce, and it's a big one.  I have a new assistant because former Senior Assistant Ben Albrecht is now the golf course superintendent at Birkdale Golf Club in Huntersville.  Ben served as Senior Assistant since December 2014 and had been a member of my staff dating back to 2008.   I want to thank Ben for his tireless effort the past nine years and wish him the very best as he embarks on this next chapter of his career.  I'm very happy to announce Matt Claunch has been promoted to Senior Assistant.  You may recall I introduced all of you to Matt (CLICK HEREwhen he joined our staff in late May.  Eric Sosnowski has been promoted to Assistant Superintendent.  Eric has worked tirelessly as our Assistant-In-Training since joining the team in September 2013.  
(image)Eric SosnowskiOriginally from State College, PA he is a 2013 graduate of Penn State University with a B.S. degree in Turfgrass Science.  He loves NASCAR, the Philadelphia Eagles and has even been known to wow the patrons at the Hickory Tavern in Steele Creek on Friday nights with his karaoke talents.

Well, that's all for now.  With tournament season in the rear-view it's time for refreshers and seminars as conference season kicks off next week.  Matt and I are headed to Myrtle Beach for the annual Carolinas GCSA Conference and Show.  We're looking forward to representing Carolina Golf Club as we learn about the latest trends and emerging technologies in golf course management, all in an effort to make Carolina even better next year.  

The coldest air of this fall season arrives in town tonight, so don't be surprised if we have a brief frost delay tomorrow and possibly Sunday morning this weekend! CLICK HERE for a brief video courtesy of the United States Golf Association explaining the importance of why starting times are delayed when frost is present on the golf course. Thank you for your patience!

See you on the course,

Matthew Wharton, CGCS, MG
Croquet 2018

It looks like we will be playing croquet in 2018. We are in the very early stages of building a 16,000 square foot green. This court will be built just like a green, internal drainage, gravel and 12" of sand. We will sod the court with A-1 bent grass. We have taken down over 30 trees at the pavilion and are in the process of removing the fescue sod. We will use this sod on the golf course in various places in the rough. 

Harrison Bay Eagle Cam 2017 Season Takes Flight
(image)After a very frustrating season last year, HBEC Experiencing Technical Issues, where we lost all communication to the PTZ camera in the top of the tree.  We are happy to announce that after a lot of hard work on the part of a lot of people and a tremendous amount of patience by our supporters and chatters, the Harrison Bay Eagle Cam Project is back up and running.  We are hoping that this year will be much more successful and will not have the issues we have experienced in the past.

Earlier this fall Angelo came down to the course and removed all the equipment from the top of the tree.  The equipment was inspected for damage but none was found.  We can't really say why the camera stopped communicating but we believe it was a wiring issue going up the tree.  In the past the wires were not protected from things that could have damaged them like an animal chewing through them.  This year all cables were run in flexible conduit all the way from control box to camera.  We also purchased a secondary camera which is also mounted in the nest tree which will serve as a backup, complete with its own microphone and infrared light.  Live and learn!!!

We get asked a lot about what all it takes to provide this great and unique experience and it takes a lot.  It takes a lot of time, planning, work, and expertise.  To the right is a photo of the communication and power connections at the base of the tree.  There is a lot of stuff going on in this photo including fiber optic conversion, IP camera Power over Ethernet adapters, data switchers, microphone power injectors, and more.  This is not your average "plug and play" set up.  So if you want to start a streaming website program I am not discouraging you, I'm just letting you know you can't go down to your local Walmart and pick this package up.


So let's give some credit to the people that make this project work.  Matt Vawter, pictured with Mr. Jim Morgan of The Friends of Harrison Bay State Park, is a Park Ranger at Harrison Bay State Park and is the brains behind the entire project.  Without Matt being willing and able to create our website, determine which equipment was needed and how to make it all work, and be able to program the cameras to get out to the internet we would all be looking at a blank screen.  When you sit around your computer screen and enjoy the eaglets hatching out of their eggs it is because of Matt's hard work.

The other piece to the puzzle is Angelo Giansante. Angelo is the Park Manager at Hiwassee Ocoee Scenic River State Park and has been involved in the project since the beginning.  Angelo is in charge of installing and maintaining the cameras and everything else up in the top of the tree.  Without hesitation when we call and ask Angelo to come down and climb the 100' to the nest he never turns us down and says it is one of the best projects he's worked on.  So much like Matt when you are enjoying the sights and sounds of HBEC Angelo is a vital part of the project.

We are extremely happy to be back online and streaming and hope to have a much better year this year.  We have learned some very hard lessons over the year and although we are not the biggest eagle cam project out there, nor do we want to be, we do everything we can to provide this glimpse into the nesting life of a bald eagle family.

Again we want to thank all our loyal followers who have patiently waited for us to be back on line.  If you have not experienced this great project we encourage you to join us at as we hopefully watch Elliott and Eliza lay a couple eggs and raise a new brood of bald eagles that will take to the skies.  

Fall activities at Rolling Meadows
Happy Thanksgiving! As of today 18 holes are still open for play but the end is near as we enter the last week of November. It has been a year of ups and downs in the weather with an early opening followed by a cold wet spring, a wet and mild summer followed by a cold September, a warm October and what has to be the coldest November ever. Oddly October was very warm with beautiful but it rained 7 out of the 8 weekend days. What will December and the winter bring for the Badger State? I guess we will just have to wait and find out.

Thank you for your business and support this year and I hope you enjoyed the course. One of the highlights included planting 69 trees throughout the course to replace some of the ash that have been removed. Thank you for all those who donated specific trees or money towards the trees.
Our fall work including mowing much more than average due to the warm October weather, our other time was concentrated on putting the golf course to sleep and getting ready for winter. Some of our fall activities included:

Leaves – Leave cleanup is a major part of fall operations. This year many of the maple trees leaves have hung on much longer than normal extending the leaf removal season. I have heard different explanations as to why the leaves were on so long but all of them tied to the weather and ample moisture we had all year. The past 3 years we have averaged 340 labor hours blowing and mulching leaves to keep the course playable for the fall season.
(image)Leaves are generally blown from the greens tees and fairways and mulched into the rough. 
Patio – A year ago we removed the wooden deck on the south side of the clubhouse because the boards needed replacement and provide a better staging area for the cart fleet. This year we took the second step with the project and installed a patio on the South East side of the clubhouse near the putting green for your enjoyment. There is seating for 44 and the walk to the bar area is more convenient than the old deck.

14 Bunker – Sometimes it is better to cut your losses and move on as is the case with hole 14 greenside bunker. We rebuilt the bunker 12 years ago and it performed better for a few years but it is just in the wrong place. The entire green drains into the bunker washing out the sand and mixing it with the clay subsoil each time it rains. The mixed sand/clay creates a hard pan on the lower bunker and the sand that is pushed up after every storm is soft and provided fried egg lies on the slope of the bunker.
The current bunker is 2,960 ft2 . After the work most of the bunker will be removed with a small portion of the bunker (approx. 350 ft2) remaining as a visual aid to the hole more than a hazard to catch balls. Our other goal to improve the hole is to keep the reeds on the edge of the pond mechanically cut down do improve the view of the green from the fairway.
(image)With the reeds cut and the bunker removed the hole has a new look.
This change should be well received by customers who would carry the pond
and then have their ball plug in the bunker face. (image)The large bunker will be replaced with grass swails and a small bunker.
14 Silver Tee – Along with the bunker project we are installing the long talked about silver tee behind the current silver/red tee on hole 14. The base material has been hauled in and shaped and will be allowed to settle over the winter. The tee was needed to reduce problems during match play when a male receives a stroke while playing a female from the same tee surface.
A golf course is rated with two handicaps, male and female. Hole 14 is odd in that 3 “mens” tees have a forced carry over the marsh and 1 (the silver) does not.
The additional tee will not fully equal the playing field in match play but it will help. We did look at adding a tee over the marsh but the location of the bridge and the worry errant shots from hole 13 could hit a forward silver tee the new location behind the red tee is the best option.

Irrigation – The irrigation system is tuned up, the heads are all trimmed around and the water is blown out of the pipes hooking up a large air compressor to the system. This two day process helps ensure pipes do not shatter from water freezing in them.  
(image)Blowing water out of the lines on hole 20.

As we move into the last week of November we hope to:
  • Remove some more dying ash trees on the practice hole, hole 16, 17 and 20.  
  • Mow rough one more time to shorten it for winter. Normally we are done mowing by this time of year but this year the rough just kept growing with the warm temperatures in October. 
  • Put a layer of sand topdressing on the greens to protect them from winter winds and provide the benefits of a normal topdressing of smoothing the surface and diluting thatch. Here is a story from the United States Golf Association regarding the benefits of fall topdressing. (image)8 Green covered with sand topdressing.
Thank you again for your business and support. Feel free to contact us if you have any questions or comments and we look forward to seeing you in the spring. 
Greens Being Prepared For Winter
We have been preparing our greens for winter. 

The Process:
1) Deep-tine or drill and fill aerification
2) Aerify again with 3/4 inch solid tines
3) Spray plant protectants to prevent snow mold diseases
4) Topdress heavily to provide "protective blanket" and fill aerifying holes

We do our best to extend the playing season as long as possible. Weather is the limiting factor. Frosty mornings and frozen ground or frozen sand limits our ability to perform these labor intensive tasks. Wet ground also makes it impossible to run the heavy equipment over green surfaces.

(image)Team performing Drill & Fill on #11 green(image)The staff spread 40,000 pounds of sand yesterday!

Below: Staff drill & fill #12 green

Below: Topdressing Greens

Dryject on the Greens

  Its been a busy week at Highlands Falls. The croquet project is well under way, we have been working on drainage projects, and we are finishing our aerification program on the greens.  Two weeks ago, we completed the traditional "core" aerification of the greens.  This process is where we pull plugs from the greens and follow that up by a heavy dose of sand.  We are now finishing up an aerification process called "Dryject" where we inject sand into the root zone of the greens.

(image)Dryject on the 17th green.
  Despite what the name might imply, "Dryject" actually involves high pressure water injecting sand into the green.  While traditional aerification only works to a depth of about 3 inches, "Dryject" can penetrate up to 8 inches, however we prefer to inject the sand to a depth of about 4 - 5 inches.  The "Dryject" process has several benefits that make it unique.  First, it is minimally invasive in that play can resume when the process is finished.  Second, we can calibrate exactly haw much sand we want injected into the green.  It can also shatter any soil layering that may occur over time.  Additionally, it has many of the same benefits of traditional aerification.

(image)A soil profile showing the sand injection.
  The process can be a bit labor intensive as two crew members need to be with the contractor to keep the sand bin full.  Once finished, we will have injected over 22 tons of sand into the greens.   Along with traditional "core" aerification, the "Dryject" process has helped our greens perform at high level.

(image)Two men per machine are needed to keep the hopper full of sand.
(image)Once brushed in, the green will be ready for play.
The First Tee Network Meeting
The First Tee is a 501c3 nonprofit youth development organization whose mission is to provide youth with educational programs that build character, instill life-enhancing values and promote healthy choices through the game of golf. They held their network meeting in Orlando, FL this past week. This was also a celebration of The First Tee’s 20th Anniversary! There …(image)
Teamwork Yields Results
Positive results are the ultimate goal of any venture.  What these results are depends on the nature of your business. Teamwork and leadership are the capstone of any successful undertaking.  If everyone is working toward the same goals and objectives, supports each other and works together smoothly as a team, positive things WILL happen. Southern …(image)
Reel Maintenance

One of the many jobs that is essential that we perform during the off-season is the maintenance of our vast collection of reel mowers.  These are the mowers that cut the greens, tees, and fairways.  It is a monotonous but technical job that includes oil and filter changes, replacing worn bearings and cables, sharpening reels, and a lot of precise adjustments.  While this sounds simple, in practice it takes a lot of time and care to do successfully.

(image)A triplex mower on the lift getting ready to go through winter servicing.  This mower has 3 sets of reels.
Reel mowers require a lot of maintenance and care to perform at the level that we expect.  Every year, all of the mowers are torn down and built back up to "factory specs".  Each reel on a mower takes a full day to have it fully ready for the next year.  To put that into context, we have approximately 45 reels in total on our mowers and each has to be made ready for the next season.
(image)Equipment manager Aaron Brown, sharpening the reel of a triplex mower.(image)Aaron is preparing to sharpen the "bed knife" of a reel mower.
With course conditioning being of the highest level at HFCC, this maintenance is essential if not glamorous.

 As the saying goes the show is not over until the fat lady sings.  So lets just say she is warming up for the finally.   The Greens and Grounds staff is now down to its hearty few who will brave the cold and keep the course as playable as possible and ready the equipment and grounds for next season.  Let me take this opportunity to thank the rest of the staff on a successful season.  With out these people we would not have the course we enjoy so much.   "THANKS GUYS". 

Before the final curtain comes down we continue to spend most of our time picking up or removing leaves.   We need to apply our winter plant protectants, top-dress greens, continue our Belgium Block installation and a few other miscellaneous tasks.    The following are a few pictures that were taken last week. 

(image)The  Kitchen staff is busy prepping for the big day.   Well over a hundred diners and more than 20 turkeys well be served at the thanksgiving feast tomorrow.

(image)Adding some block along path by nine ladies tee.(image)Blue Birds hang around all winter.   Nice to spot one posing for a picture.    
(image)Frosty morning work,  time to bring in the Bunker rakes for a winter spruce up. 

(image)Installing a drain to the left of 10 green to catch run off from melting snows.  (image)I had the pleasure to meet "Mr. Monarch".  Dr. "Chip" Taylor on my recent trip to Kansas.   Dr Taylor is the founder of Monarch watch a  program run by the University of Kansas dedicated to the protection and education for Monarchs.  We are  working with the USGA and Audubon International to get golf courses involved  in providing more habitat.  For more info. go to  (image)Well said Mr. Palmer!!!!(image)Our 2017 Greens and Grounds staff.  Thank you gents for a job well done.   Everyone have a great Thanksgiving.

Hello and welcome to The Greenkeeper!  Today is Wednesday, November 22nd and I want to quickly remind everyone although the club is closed tomorrow for Thanksgiving the golf course is available (walking only) for those wanting to squeeze in a quick round before dinner, or perhaps you need to "walk off" some turkey and stuffing later in the day. Either way I hope you enjoy your time on the course should you choose to come out.
Thanksgiving is a holiday steeped in traditions and over the years has become my all-time favorite holiday.  I love leaving the house quietly each year on Thanksgiving morning with a fresh cup of coffee and making my journey to Carolina Golf Club.  The streets are quiet as the city enjoys the day off and I ride through the course to ensure everything is in order and nothing out of place.  It's a quiet and peaceful time to reflect on the many blessings of the past year.  If there is no potential for frost I exit out the back gate by the Turf Care Center and return home to a house filled with visiting family (now you know why it has become my favorite holiday).  If there is potential for frost I linger behind the clubhouse and engage early arrivals in conversation and holiday cheer in order to prevent inadvertent turf damage before the frost sufficiently lifts.  Currently the forecast tomorrow morning calls for temperatures in the low to mid-30's so I wouldn't be surprised if we have some frost.  Come early and maybe I'll see you, and if we don't cross paths this year, Happy Thanksgiving!

Just prior to Thanksgiving in 2010 I penned a short list of things I was most thankful for that year, and since that time I guess you could say it's become a tradition.  Inspired by the lists of legendary golf writer Ron Green, Sr. that annually appear in the Charlotte Observer I enjoy taking time to reflect on the year and recognizing some memorable moments.  I am well aware my lists pale in comparison to his but without further ado, this year I'm most thankful for:

10. BTME! The BIGGA Turf Management Exposition is the largest professional turfgrass conference outside the U.S. and what a thrill it was to attend the conference earlier this year.  Not only did I have the opportunity to meet and fellowship with my peers across the Atlantic, but this was actually my first time travelling outside the U.S.  Mrs. Greenkeeper and I had a wonderful experience and look forward to attending again sometime in the future, maybe I'll get invited to speak one year, that would be special.
(image)Harrogate International Centre 9. Chris Buie! The author of The Life and Times of Donald Ross befriended me earlier this year and shared many of the cool finds from researching his book including an Associated Press story from 1933 that chronicles how Carolina came to be the golf course we all love and enjoy today from its humble dairy farm origins.  That story appears in his book by the way.  He also shared coming across a reference to a match played at Carolina in the early 30's between Walter Hagen and Joe Kirkwood.  At this time I've yet to unearth evidence of that match but the search continues. 
(image)The Life & Times of Donald Ross(image)Original Ross Routing

8. Timely Rains! This year we received over twenty inches rain at Carolina Golf Club between April 1st and June 30th and although I love firm, fast playing conditions even I had to agree the bermudagrass turf looked its best ever this summer.  The plentiful and timely rains boosted soil moisture reserves creating a dense bermudagrass turf canopy unlike we've seen post restoration and the definition this year was second to none.
(image)16 Green Foreground, 3 Approach & Green Background(image)Nest of Bunkers & Mounds Holes 6 (R) & 7 (L)
(image)Hole No. 8
7. Mentors!  I dare say none of us would be where we are in life today without the assistance and guidance from someone we look up to.  I have been fortunate in my profession to be blessed with several mentors and what a treat it was for me this year to spend time during PGA Championship week showing off Carolina Golf Club to a few fellow superintendents and industry peers, and they all loved it!
No, thank you for the tour of your classic course, the "turf talk" and your support of #GCSAA! Keep up the great work with @CarolinasGCSA!
— Darren J Davis, CGCS (@DarrenJDavisGCS) August 11, 2017
6. Kris Spence!  Kris has been consulting and working with Carolina Golf Club since before I was your superintendent.  I've been blessed for the opportunity to work closely with him and I'm proud the relationship he shares with Carolina Golf Club today is as strong as ever.  It was just this time last year he assisted us in the design and location of our two newest fairway bunkers left of hole No. 7 and earlier this year he was the feature interview on the popular golf course architecture discussion website, Golf Club Atlas.  CLICK HERE to read what Kris had to say about becoming involved with Carolina and the club's subsequent transformation.
Great meeting yest with @CGCGreenkeeper and his greens chair Ed Oden discussing native areas. Great club embracing its legacy to Ross
— Kris W Spence (@kspdesign) October 14, 2017
5. Sunrises! One of the greatest benefits to being a golf course superintendent is being on the property at a time when most aren't and capturing those moments.  I've seen countless beautiful sunrises over Carolina through the years but these two photos below contain colors I don't recall ever seeing before.  Oddly enough they were taken only three minutes apart back in late September from the operator's seat of my fairway mower.  #nofilter 
(image)6:59 am Sep 25th(image)7:02 am Sep 25th4. Ed Oden!  How does the chairman of the Greens Committee replace an outgoing chairman of five years?  Exactly like Mr. Oden did it this year.  He assembled a great group consisting of a few new members while keeping a few tenured ones for continuity.  He even made the effort to play the course (walking) with me the day prior to several of our monthly meetings.  These informal "course inspections" really helped shape and facilitate our discussions with the group each time the next day.  Thank you Mr. Oden for your leadership and guidance this year and I look forward to continuing our work together next year!

3. Billy Cleveland!  Recall this time last year the club was engaged with a firm assisting with the selection and hire of our next General Manager.  Regardless of the process and subsequent negotiations, I believe things happen for a reason and I'm truly thankful we landed Mr. Cleveland!  Since mid-February he has brought an unprecedented knowledge and experience to Carolina and I'm excited for what the bright future holds in store for the club.  
(image)Solar Eclipse Just last week while attending the Carolinas GCSA Conference and Show I was approached by several individuals who recognized the name Carolina Golf Club on my badge and asked me about Billy Cleveland.  It's an honor to be associated with someone so well thought of throughout the industry.  Thank you for your leadership Sir!

2. Carolina Golf Club!  As I alluded to briefly above, this time last year we were without a General Manager and the lack of leadership at that time made for some challenging times.  However, throughout those times you constantly reassured me and my family here is where you want us to be.  I count my blessings each day I remain entrusted to care for the best golf course in town.  I cannot believe I get to do what I do everyday and call it work.  It's not work when it's your passion and this course contains my blood, sweat, and tears so why would I want to be anywhere else. 

1. My Staff!  Each year I've always thanked my staff, usually somewhere between numbers four and five.  Mostly because I reserved numbers one and two for faith and family but this year I thought I would do something different.  Many of you have stated this year you believe the golf course was the best it has ever been.  I don't disagree, the overall condition and daily presentation of tees, fairways and rough was by far the most consistent in our post restoration era.  I will forever remember 2017 for a strong year of turf conditions and course presentation, but we did so in a year with tremendous turnover.  When negative forces impact team chemistry it's necessary to make changes and I made a significant change to my management team just as the growing season arrived.  Shortly after, I lost two additional experienced equipment operators to other job opportunities and suddenly we were short-handed.  Without hesitation I successfully recruited Matt Claunch from Pine Tree Golf Club in Boynton Beach, FL to return home to Charlotte and join my staff.  A month later Colby Engert returned from Arizona after a near 20-month hiatus walking through the door exclaiming, "I'm home Boss".  Together we guided what turned out to be the best group of international interns we've ever had.  These young men from the Philippines have spoiled me this year with their knowledge, talent, work ethic, and pleasant demeanor.  We might look like a ragtag band of misfits in the photo below but I will forever be proud of the team I assembled in 2017!  I thank each and every one of you for all your hard work and effort!  
(image)2017 Carolina Golf Club Greenkeeping TeamOkay, I really do need to mention two other things I'm thankful for this year.  I'm thankful for movers and realtors.  Granted, I would never recommend to anyone the company that moved us after that experience, but our realtor was awesome so I would happily recommend her if you're in need.

Did you really think I would omit the most important people in my life from this year's list?  I'm most thankful for my loving and supporting wife and our family.  This past year was a stressful one at times, especially with the move and ongoing renovations ;) but it only brought us closer together.  I truly love what I do for you and your guests each and every day, but the inspiration to wake and seize the day is the unconditional love of my family.  Whether it's enjoying one another's company at the beach or watching my little Princess (she's not so little anymore) play softball, they are the constant beating of my heart.  I love you all most!  (image)Catcher 2024 USA Softball 
May God Bless and Happy Thanksgiving Carolina Golf Club!   

See you on the course,

Matthew Wharton, CGCS, MG

GCSAA 2017 Delegate Meeting
The GCSAA held their annual delegate meeting this past week in Lawrence, KS.  This is a time when delegates from chapters all over the U.S. and GCSAA board members get together to discuss items that are relevant and important to the superintendent profession and growing the game of golf.  These meetings are important because they …(image)
Sometimes It's Good to Vent

Every 2-3 weeks in the summer we "vent" greens with small needle tines in order to allow them to "breathe".  This is not "aeration" and creates little if any disruption to play.  Generally we mow and/or roll immediately behind the process.  While "venting" is primarily done in the hotter months, we occasionally feel the need to do it in the spring and/or fall.  Conditions dictate the timing and frequency of venting. 

The past 7-10 days have been very wet and I felt like greens would benefit from "venting".  The greens are nearly 25 years old and they do not drain as well as they once did.  The golf shop and I have been fielding a slow but steady flow of venting from golfers over the fact that we vented greens. The greens have been putting great and will continue to do so for the remainder of the golf season.  Please allow them to vent when they are not happy. 


Firewood For Sale

That time of year to burn some wood in outdoor pits or fireplaces. We sell oak firewood for $ 75.00 self service pick up load or $ 100 delivered. Deliveries are usually delayed until after Thanksgiving since the staff is busy chasing leaves and we are at reduced staffing levels. Deliveries are only made on week days. You do not have to be there for us to deliver as long as we have a spot worked out ahead of time to stack.

If you have a small SUV or car and want a small load, we usually adjust the price down accordingly. If you need assistance with loading, our staff can help out. There are there 7 am to 2:30 pm Monday thru Friday. The pickup load price is for about `175 pieces more or less. You can contact my phone at 314-575-7321 or shoot me an email.

The pile we are currently using as you drive down past the maintenance building is on the left side of the driveway. It has been there for 2 years and has been burning nicely in the fire pits up on the patio over the last couple of months. Once that is all gone we will begin to use the right side which is a bit  newer wood but has been on the ground since at least last winter.

Your account is charged once we deliver or you pick up the wood.


2017 Year in Review
Another excellent golf season has come end.  This has been my 17th year here at Hawks Landing.

Every season is different which is one of the exciting parts for me. My focus is to provide our membership with a well conditioned firm golf course daily.  We have implemented many new strategies in the last few years to do just that.  There is no status quo in maintaining a golf course, especially as the course ages.

This season we have been addressing the organic matter and excess water holding in the greens with very good results.  We will continue the profile testing for years to come and will evaluate what management strategies need to be implemented.  This testing provides us with valuable insight and an excellent plan to follow.  In the upcoming seasons we need to continue our focus on fairways and tees as well.  Our soils very extremely rocky which poses many challenges for organic matter control.  We need to look at alternative management practices that will help remove excess organic matter.  The problem is not going to go away by itself we need to be very proactive in order to provide the membership with quality playing surfaces.  Additionally, this is not an overnight fix, it took many years to become a problem.

It has been a crazy weather year as well,  This spring started fairly normal but then the rains started.  It almost seemed like we lived in the jungle with multiple  3+ inch rain events in a short time frame.  Every time we were able to have the course playable it rained again and again.  We were very fortunate this summer  had fairly mild temperatures.  The saturated conditions and excess heat would not have been a very good situation. Late summer came along we went thru a time span of  moderate drought conditions.  Onto fall with the start of our recent bunker renovation compared to last fall the temperatures were quite chilly.  This caused some delays in our renovation work. During Phase 1 bunker renovation most seeded areas were filled in by winter this year very little seed has come up.

Staffing is and will be a serious problem in the years to come.  It is very difficult in the current job market to find staff for summer months.  My Assistant will be moving on to another opportunity.  This in itself will be very difficult to find a replacment.  The turf programs across the country have seen a drastic decline in enrollment. I strongly believe that Hawks Landing is an excellent choice to learn and gain valuable experience now the challenges begins in finding the right fit to fill this position soon. 

All in all this season has been very rewarding and with all the progress we have made I am looking forward too 2018

We have completed our bunker renovation project with a few odds and ends to complete yet this fall.  Some of the bunkers on the back 9 were very large and posed many challenges for maintenance as well as playability.  We looked at each bunker, evaluated its purpose, issues, and what we can do to increase playability for the higher handicap player and still create varied shot options along with enhanced placement of the hazard for the skilled player.  I believe we did just that for the phase 2 work.  Holes 11,12,15 have dramatic changes that have been well received this fall by many members.  I removed a total of 4 bunkers on holes 11,14,17 these bunkers were not in play.  Compared to the Phase 1 front 9 bunker renovation we laid a lot of bentgrass and bluegrass sod.  In total 10,000 sqft of sod was laid down and about the same amount of seeding done.  We harvested sod from the golf course to better match the existing turf.  The weather this fall has been challenging to get any seed to germinate the sod has already started to root well.  We will have the seeded areas roped off until we have a good stand of grass in the spring.  I did my best to keep most seeded areas outside of play.  The sand in the new bunkers is very soft at this point. I am confident that the sand will firm up over time. Moving forward we all need to focus on smoothing out our footprints using the back smooth side of the bunker rakes and exiting from the low side of the bunkers.  During this renovation I also focused on correcting a lot of the very steep exit and entrances of the bunkers. This should no longer be an issue.

 I am very proud of our staff for all the hard work they did to complete this project.  Golf Creations also did an outstanding job.  This was a very rewarding project that I firmly believe has enhanced our great golf club to a new level.  I am very excited for the upcoming golf season.

I would like to wish everyone a happy Thanksgiving and a great holiday season.  It has been a pleasure to prepare the golf course for everyone this year and look forward to continuing our progress that we have made this year into 2018.

(image)11 green before/after(image)14 green before/after
(image)12 green before/after
(image)15 green before/after

(image)17 frwy bunker removal
(image)17 green bunker rebuild
Big Break

Irrigation leaks are never any fun, and when the pipe size is 8", you can expect a big hole will be needed to make the repair.  Such was the case a week ago, when suddenly, up from the ground came a significant amount of water.

In situations like this, digging carefully is mandatory.  We not only don't want to rip the pipe out of the ground, but we also need to avoid damaging the myriad wires which run alongside the pipe.

Step two in this surgical procedure was cutting out the old tee.  Virtually none of the irrigation pipe on the golf course is glued together.  Instead it is pushed together using belled end pipe with gaskets.  Therefore, it is primarily the weight of the soil which holds the pipe in place.  However, where fittings such as tees and elbows are installed, concrete thrust blocks were poured to prevent the pipe from moving.  As you can see below, the concrete thrust block came out with the tee.

Once we had the tee out, we could finally see exactly where the problem was.  The ductile iron tee corroded to the point that its rubber gasket blew out.  Similar to a car's tire separating from the rim, once the gasket's seal was broken, water was able to freely escape the pipe.

When repairing pipes we no longer have the room to push pipe into a new fitting.  In a situation like this, some type of repair coupling is used.  There are many different kinds, but on the recommendation of an experienced irrigation contractor, we chose a repair coupling which was new to us.  One of the advantages to this model, is that there is only a single bolt to tighten on each end.  This may not sound like a big deal, but inevitably, tightening bolts on the bottom of a pipe in a muddy hole, is less than ideal.  One bolt, situated on top of the pipe is a big improvement.

Once the repair couplings were in place, we poured our own thrust blocks to prevent any possible pipe movement, and the couplings themselves are wrapped in plastic.  This way, should the repair ever need to be dug up, we won't have to be chipping concrete off the couplings.  The finished product may not look beautiful, but it is effective.

Again, these main line repairs are never a party.  However, to look at the glass as half full, the pipe wasn't eight feet deep, the wires were looped around the existing fitting giving us plenty of room to work, and it took place in November, not July!

 It was 23 degrees when I got to work.  A record setting low.  But where is the frost?  

(image)Doesn't look any like frost. (image)May be a little here?  (image)We have what I call a "Black Frost" this morning.   Its hard to see.  One of the tell tale signs is when you step on it,  It does not spring back.  A sure sigh of a problem.   What you can't show in a picture is it actually has a crunchy nose when stepped on.   This kind of frost can really damage grass if walked or driven on.   We will be extra cautious today and make sure this is gone before we open the course for play.  (image)On another note work has started on the new patio expansion.  (image)The putting green will remain closed for the rest of the season to avoid everyone walking across it.  To access the pro shop Please walk around the green.  
Graden verticut

This week we are doing a deep verticut of the greens. The machine we use is called a graden. It has a sand box attached to the top of the machine. As the blades remove the thatch, the sand is then dropped down through tubes to fill the void. This machine will remove about 12% of organic material with the blades we are using. Today was a tough day due to no sun and a light rain. The front nine was completed today and the back nine later this week.

The Importance of Kindness
Kindness, it is something that should be simple and automatic, yet it can be an abstract concept that is sometimes overlooked in our daily, nonstop lives. There is a wonderful quote thought to be from Lucius Annaeus Seneca, a Roman philosopher, “Wherever there is a human being, there is an opportunity for a kindness”, that …(image)
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