Trade Show Floor Busy And Buzzing at Last

The Trade Show floor at Myrtle Beach Convention Center was abuzz yesterday with handshakes, broad smiles and backslaps as Carolinas GCSA members finally got to mingle face to face again, two years after the last Conference and Show. There was a definite air of relief to be back in such familiar territory and gratitude for golf’s phenomenal surge since the onset of the pandemic.

There was a strong exhibitor presence with 192 different companies purchasing a total of 373 booths. Still, at least one empty booth on the trade show floor was a reminder that COVID-19 continues to linger. Pond and lake service providers Estate Management Services were unable to man their booth after three employees contracted the virus in the leadup to the show.

“All in all, we are extremely happy with the numbers of both exhibitors and attendees,” says Carolinas GCSA executive director, Tim Kreger. “And just as importantly, it is great to see people so happy to be here. Even on Sunday, the energy in the parking lot of the hotel was incredible as people started to roll into town. I’ve said it before, people need people, and that is what is at the heart of this show.”

Some of those people were at the show for the first time thanks to the Carolinas GCSA’s constant presence on social media. “There are some folks here for the first time this week from different parts of the country who we’ve gotten to know during the pandemic thanks to social media,” Kreger says. “It has been wonderful to shake their hands at last.”

Conference Education Near All-Time High

Carolinas GCSA members turned out in near record numbers for education at Conference and Show this week. While final numbers are still to be tallied, at least 1,341 seminar seats were occupied, which is the third highest in history behind only 1,366 in 2019 and 1,357 in 2014.

The strong turnout for education, provided in partnership with Syngenta, was helped in part by the first-time addition of four seminars on Monday morning. “I think that helped, but the bottom line is I think a lot of people were simply ready to be back in an in-person seminar setting,” says Carolinas GCSA executive director, Tim Kreger. “And they are always ready to hear from the caliber of speakers that we offer.”

Kreger says the Carolinas GCSA is also ready to hear from superintendents with suggestions for research projects that some of those speakers may be asked to undertake. The Carolinas GCSA has an open call for research proposals until the end of the year. Historically, researchers have generated proposals, but the Carolinas GCSA board also wants to hear directly from superintendents on the issues they would most like to see addressed.

“With the pandemic, we haven’t pursued any new projects for some time, so we’re keen to get moving,” Kreger says. “Anyone who has an idea, or a suggestion can reach out to me, and we will put it in the hopper. Our plan is to announce in January the successful proposals to receive Rounds4Research funding. Some of the findings from that research will likely be fuel for future seminars at the show.”
Club Takes New Approach To Recruiting Interns

North Ridge Country Club in Raleigh, NC is taking a novel approach to resolving one of the superintendent profession’s most pressing concerns. Like many, the club offers internships, but yesterday went a step further hosting a special lunch and information session for competitors in the annual Student Turf Bowl. In other words, North Ridge was recruiting future assistant superintendents.

“It is getting increasingly hard to find assistants and we wanted to take the chance to let students know what we have to offer at North Ridge,” says Ford Baker, from North Ridge, who spoke to students along with colleague, Brooks Smith. Baker and Smith are superintendents on the club’s two courses with director of golf maintenance and grounds, Charles Sheffield.

Baker and Smith explained to about 60 students and professors that North Ridge will provide four internships next summer of at least eight weeks. Additionally, the best performing intern will receive a $500 scholarship at the end of summer. The club is also investigating housing options for interns.

“We want to give them the full Raleigh experience,” Smith says. “So, we’re looking at being able provide housing in the downtown or midtown area. We’re trying to get creative in addressing a need and make golf course maintenance as attractive as possible for these students who might also be considering a future in sports turf.”

Horry-Georgetown Technical College professor Charles Granger applauded the effort by North Ridge. “I thought it was very innovative on their behalf,” he says. “Who knows what another club might do next year?”

Horry-Georgetown Wins Turf Bowl Nail-Biter

Horry-Georgetown Technical College retains the Student Turf Bowl trophy after a nail-biting finish that came down to final jeopardy yesterday afternoon. Horry-Georgetown’s A team finished just 50 points clear of North Carolina State University’s B team after both correctly identified the Carolinas GCSA’s most recent Distinguished Service Award winner. Horry-Georgetown won the last Turf Bowl contested in 2019.

This year’s winning team consisted of Jacob Smith, Michael Miller, Colin Rosenbaum and Harrison Rothwell. Rothwell is the son of longtime Carolinas GCSA member, Paul Rothwell, from Oyster Reef Golf Club in Hilton Head, SC. The proud dad was on hand to watch the contest among a crowd of spectators that grows by the year.

“It’s the first time I’ve seen the Turf Bowl in action and it was impressive,” Rothwell says. “I had no idea it drew such a crowd. What a great event.” 

The Turf Bowl is presented in partnership with Precision Laboratories and once again was hosted by the ever-dapper Bo Barefoot, who unveiled a new white suit for this year’s event. “We love putting on the Turf Bowl each year. It’s a lot of fun to be a part of,” he says. “These kids love it, and they are always impressive with their knowledge and enthusiasm.”

Carolinas Night a Time to Celebrate

As the cover of the Conference and Show program says: “It’s time to celebrate your great performance through tough times.” And that’s exactly what the Carolinas GCSA did last night at The Dunes Golf and Beach Club when about 350 people partied at Carolinas Night on the Beach. Warm beneath a large tent surrounded outside by fire pits and heaters, attendees reveled in the chance to be together again with friends and colleagues.

It was a celebration in the best traditions of Carolinas Night, presented in partnership with TSP and Vereens Turf Products. The Dunes Club turned on exceptional food and Paul and Kristie Hurst, otherwise known as Midlife, performed on stage, with the moonlit Atlantic Ocean as a backdrop. Later in the evening, Dr. Ben McGraw, Zach Bauer and Gina Rizzi appeared on screen in a sneak peak preview of Turfbusters: Season 2.

Carolinas GCSA executive director, Tim Kreger, welcomed the crowd and introduced a number of people including host superintendent and past-president, Steve Hamilton, CGCS. “We’re thrilled to see so many folks here, clearly having a great time,” Hamilton says. “I’m glad we were able to be part of putting on a Carolinas Night with a bit of a twist. Carolinas Night has such a great history of bringing people together and it’s cool to see it happening again.”