August 2021

Carolinas Night Makes Move From “At” to “On” the Beach

A slight name change to Carolinas Night at the Beach, historically a highlight of the annual Carolinas GCSA social calendar, signals a major shift in the nature of the event this November. Instead of “at” the beach, this year’s big party during Conference and Trade Show will be “on” the beach that separates The Dunes Golf and Beach Club from the waves of the Atlantic Ocean.

“We’ll have giant tents, heaters, you name it,” says Carolinas GCSA executive director, Tim Kreger. “It’s going to be a great time, and something different, which we are constantly striving to provide.”

Kreger also confirms that husband and wife duo, Paul and Kristie Hurst, also known as Midlife, will appear live at Carolinas Night on the Beach, which once again occupies its traditional Tuesday night slot (November 16). Hurst is a former superintendent and co-owner of turf industry supplier, Greenspro. The Missouri-based couple have played the St. Louis club circuit for a number of years and ramped up their following among superintendents with their popular “Covid Sessions” performances online since the onset of the pandemic.

This year’s Conference and Trade Show offers golf course superintendents and the wider golf course maintenance industry a chance to celebrate their own MVP performance during the pandemic.

“I think most of us can remember how bleak things looked back in March of last year, with all sorts of recreation and entertainment industries being shut down,” Kreger says. “Nothing was guaranteed. But we were able to keep golf open and our members were able to keep themselves and their crews safe and as a result, golf in the Carolinas had a record year. Better yet, those levels of play have carried on into this year. That is something our members, both superintendents and industry partners, should be very proud of.”

Attendee registration opens September 7 for this year’s Conference and Trade Show in Myrtle Beach, SC from November 15 to 17.

Calendar of Events

August 18, 2021
Palmetto GCSA Championship-Elections Meeting - Farmstead Golf Links

August 24, 2021
LCGCSA/CPGCSA 2021 Charlie Jones Memorial Golf Tournament - Brays Island Plantation

August 30, 2021
WNCTA August Meeting - Asheville Country Club

September 8, 2021
Coastal Plains GCSA Night at the Riverdogs - Riley Park

November 15 - 17, 2021
Carolinas GCSA Conference and Trade Show Myrtle Beach Convention Center, Myrtle Beach, SC
Reserve Your Booth Space Now!
Attendee Registration Opens Tuesday, September 7th



Kelly Delivers Historic U.S. Junior Amateur

Ron Kelly deserved the vacation he took at the beach after hosting the 73rd U.S. Junior Amateur Championship at the Country Club of North Carolina in Pinehurst in July. It wasn’t just that this was a national championship, it was the fact that this championship involved a staggering 264 players, way up on the traditional 156.

Then, as soon as the field was cut after the stroke play rounds, and match play moved to the Dogwood course, director of agronomy, Kelly, aerified greens, tees and fairways on the Cardinal course. “So, yeah, we had a busy week,” he says with a laugh.

The increased field size came after the USGA raised the age limit from 17 to 18. The USGA also said it wanted to provide more opportunity in response to demand from more juniors playing the game. Whatever the reasons, the move made for an historic effort by Kelly, superintendents Chris Dwiggins (Dogwood) and Josh Weston (Cardinal) and their teams.

Their success was underpinned by what Kelly calls a “great community effort” from volunteers in the region and industry partners. “We had maybe 15 to 20 guys from other courses in town come and help out starting at 4.30 every morning,” he says. “The first four days (two practice rounds and two stroke play rounds) were really when we needed the volunteers. And the vendor support was terrific, providing meals and so on.”

Kelly says his colleagues in Pinehurst are becoming accomplished volunteers thanks to the increasing number of USGA championships in the area. And they will be back at it next year with the U.S. Women’s Open at Pine Needles Lodge and Golf Club and again in 2024 with the U.S. Open at Pinehurst No. 2.

One volunteer of note during the U.S. Junior Amateur was Kelly’s daughter, Scarlett, 16, who performed various tasks, including cup cutting. “She had to do some volunteer hours for high school, so she came out,” Kelly says, adding that Scarlett already knew her way around. “She’s been out here since she was pretty small, so it was no big deal for her.”

Battery Explosion Blamed For $1-Million Fire in SC

A lithium battery in a leaf blower is being blamed for a fire that destroyed much of the golf course maintenance infrastructure at the Chanticleer course at Greenville Country Club in Greenville, SC in July. The true cost of the fire is still being calculated but director of agronomy, Craig Harris, estimates the final number will run north of $1 million.

More than three weeks after the fire, Harris and his team were operating from tents with an equipment fleet cobbled together with the help of suppliers and superintendent colleagues from as far afield as Greensboro and Pinehurst in North Carolina. “People have been wonderful,” Harris says. “The vendors, both John Deere and Smith Turf and Irrigation, have done all they can but this is a tough time for them because of what’s gone on with pandemic and parts and so on.”

Compounding the challenge for Harris at the height of summer was losing his irrigation system controls in the fire. “We’ve been doing it all manually since the fire,” he says. “There probably couldn’t have been a worse time for this to happen on a golf course with bentgrass greens.”

Contractors estimate it will be six to eight months before they hand over a new maintenance building, but Harris is encouraged by the fact that the club is committed to making the new facility “the best it can be.” He also counts himself lucky that he had fully updated schedules of equipment that included cost and serial numbers.

“That’s the big take away from this. Updating those lists at the start of every year is a pain at the time,” he says. “But it’s absolutely worth it so I’m not bogged down trying to put it all together now when we’ve got more than enough on our plate just taking care of the golf course.”

The toughest loss as a result of the fire was maintenance “mutt” Chanty, that Harris and the crew rescued years ago. She died as a result of smoke inhalation. “You know how much she meant when you’ve got half a dozen grown men just sitting there crying,” he says.

Pennybaker a New Face On Virlinas Cup Team

At least one new face will represent the Carolinas in the return of the Virlina Cup to be contested at James River Country Club in Newport News, VA in October. Micah Pennybaker, golf course superintendent of the South Course at Carmel Country Club in Charlotte, NC, will make his debut. With six places on the team now decided, all that remains is for one selection each to be made by non-playing captain and Carolinas GCSA executive director, Tim Kreger, and event sponsor, Syngenta.

Pennybaker was one of two who played their way onto the team at a qualifier at Camden Country Club in Camden, SC in July. The other qualifier, clearly making the most of more than a little home ground knowledge, was host superintendent and past Carolinas representative, Nick Price.

A second qualifying tournament was played at the Highlands Course at Prestonwood Country Club in Cary, NC at the end of the month. Successful qualifiers were fellow former Carolinas team members, Ryan Hull, from Methodist University Golf Course in Fayetteville, NC, and Bradley Pope, from Heritage Golf Club in Wake Forest, NC.

They join reigning Carolinas GCSA golf champion, Terry English, from the Oak Point course at Kiawah Island Resort, SC and reigning assistant superintendent champion, Dylan Jordan, from Dormie Club in West End, NC. By the time the Virlina Cup is played from October 10 to 12, it will be one month shy of two years since English qualified and 21 months since Jordan did. Last year’s Virlina Cup was canceled because of the pandemic.

The Carolinas GCSA currently holds the Virlina Cup along with a seven to three lead in the history of the match play event against members of the Virginia GCSA.

Booth Returns to Carolinas With USGA Green Section

The changing face that has been the USGA Green Section in recent years changed again even more recently, although this time the change brought a little familiarity. New southeast region agronomist, Jordan Booth, CGCS cut his teeth in golf turfgrass at Clemson University and spent time working with Carolinas GCSA past-president, Don Garrett, CGCS at The Walker Course.

For years, Carolinas GCSA members saw plenty of the duo of Pat O’Brien and Chris Hartwiger. O’Brien is now retired and Hartwiger is based in Alabama as director of the USGA’s course consulting service. Steve Kammerer and Addison Barden were newer faces on the Green Section in the southeast and while Kammerer remains as regional director, his time will be spent mainly in Florida. Barden now runs his own full-service landscape business in Atlanta.

Booth says he plans to take an “old school” approach to his role. “And that means service and helping the industry,” he says. “I’m hoping to give back to the game and as a former superintendent, that’s the group I’m looking to serve.”

Booth, 39, closed on a house in Pinehurst, NC in July where he will be based with wife, Erin, and sons, Jackson, 11, and Crawford, 8. He was born in Virginia but spent some of his early years in Winston-Salem, NC and still has family in Burlington, NC and Columbia, SC. An uncle, Robert Behling, played on the Clemson golf team years ago.

Booth himself, however, didn’t become an avid golfer until he attended Clemson, initially to become an engineer. “But working in golf and turfgrass I fell in love with it,” he says. He spent more than a decade as a superintendent at Willow Oaks Country Club back in Virginia before taking a role as a research associate at Virginia Tech while working toward his Ph.D. which he hopes to secure in December.

Before that happens, he faces an even stiffer test, taking over O’Brien’s duties presenting a year-in-review session at the Carolinas GCSA Conference and Trade Show in November. “Yes, they are big shoes to fill,” Booth laughs.