Connolly Takes Reins As 49th President

Chuck Connolly, from Smithfields Country Club in Easley, SC is the 49th president of the Carolinas GCSA. Connolly was elected at the association’s annual business meeting during Conference and Show at Myrtle Beach Convention Center yesterday.

He launched his term urging colleagues to be better ambassadors and advocates for the golf course superintendent profession. He remarked on the path of so many superintendents that “began with a summer job that turned into a passion that became a career.”

“I ask you, where has that love gone? A lot of times, we sit around and we share horror stories or commiserate on how tough it can be, or how bad the weather is, or how xyz member or xyz golfer makes our lives that much harder,” he said. “But the reality of it is, we still have the passion for what brought us all here. We love being outside, we love taking care of God’s creation and manicuring the golf courses. And that’s the kind of love I would like to see us promote to everybody around us.

“It’s not all gloom and doom, what we do. We are leaders at our facilities. We’re leaders at our clubs. But a lot of times, we’re too willing to take the back seat and let other people take the credit. It’s great to be that type of leader. But at the same time, we need to work to be recognized as the professionals and the leaders that we are.”






Danny Allen Did Turn into “Something Pretty Special”

In one of the most moving, and amusing, ceremonies in the history of the honor, Danny Allen received the Carolinas GCSA Distinguished Service Award during Conference and Show yesterday. Allen, a past-president of the association who has served two different stints on the board of directors, was introduced by older brother, Randy Allen, CGCS and their speeches prompted plenty of laughter, as well as lumps in the throat.

“I can remember the day he came home from the hospital. I remember my dad coming to tell me I had a little brother and I was fired up. I thought I had somebody to play baseball with,” Randy said. “But I Iooked at him lying there and I thought, ‘Man. He doesn’t look so special. He can’t even talk!”

Randy, himself a past DSA recipient, spent the next 10 minutes detailing the many ways that Danny did “turn into something pretty special,” as a brother, athlete, community member, family man, man of faith, and of course, as a superintendent. It was clearly a heartfelt tribute that many in the audience later admitted brought a tear to their eyes.

Danny Allen has spent close to 50 years in the industry including nearly 40 years at Camden before moving to Aero Short Course in Myrtle Beach, SC several years ago. He plans to retire in December.

Danny’s acceptance speech was a long list of tributes to just about every other element of the industry that exists, all people, he said, that helped him along the way, and, of course, his children and wife of 40 years, Patricia. Of Randy, he said, “You don’t get to choose your family and sometimes that’s tough. But I’m going to tell you, I couldn’t have picked a better big brother than I have. Even though some people thought he was my dad!”
Conference and Show Up With the Best

Final numbers are still being calculated but in terms of attendance and revenues, this year’s Conference and Show, which wrapped up in Myrtle Beach, SC yesterday afternoon, was up there with the best of them. The number of seminar seats filled was close to a record even before the conference began and revenues from industry partnerships did set a new high.

“We’re extremely pleased and, as always, extremely grateful that our Conference and Show continues to receive the support that it does,” says Carolinas GCSA executive director, Tim Kreger. “While golf has been as busy as ever since the pandemic, it has still been a challenging environment for our superintendent members and for many of our industry partners. Supply chains remain disrupted and the cost of doing business has skyrocketed.

“So, it hasn’t been easy and everyone is being mindful of where they invest their time and their money. For so many people and so many companies to invest those resources in our Conference and Show is a huge vote of confidence and we will never take that for granted.”

To that end, the association made a major shift this year bringing Carolinas Night onto the trade show floor after education seminars closed on Tuesday. Providing food and beverages to attendees on the trade show floor was designed to maximize traffic and the move appears to have worked. Association staff clocked nearly 1,000 people - excluding exhibitors and their staff – stepping onto the trade show floor Tuesday evening.

“We’re continually looking for ways to improve the experience for attendees and exhibitors alike,” Kreger says. “So, feedback is important. I encourage as many people as people to respond to the survey we’ll be sending out soon.”

Next year’s Conference and Show runs from November 13 to 15.

Wilmington’s Smith Joins Carolinas GCSA Board

Carolinas GCSA members elected their newest board member yesterday, Matt Smith, from Wilmington Golf Course in Wilmington, NC. Smith fills the seat vacated by Brian Stiehler, CGCS, MG from Highlands Country Club in Highlands, NC, who leaves the board after completing his term as immediate past president.

Smith grew up in Kernersville, NC and became an assistant superintendent at Farmstead Golf Links in Calabash, NC in 2001. Two years later he was promoted to golf course superintendent. He has been at Wilmington for six years, where he prepares the golf course, which is also home to The First Tee of Wilmington, for as many as 60,000 rounds a year.

The annual meeting also saw members vote to approve an increase in the membership dues for Class C members from $100 to $125. Members also approved a change to the bylaws, effectively opening the door for general staff to qualify for a new health and medical insurance program being offered through the Carolinas GCSA.

The bylaws change now defines associate members as someone “employed at a facility that employs a Class A or Class B members of the association.” The new language removes the requirements for associate members to have completed an accredited turfgrass program and that they be working towards an assistant or superintendent position.

Before the annual meeting began, outgoing president Billy Bagwell, from Callawassie Island Club in Okatie, SC, called for a moment of silence in honor of Carolinas GCSA members who died over the past year. Those honored were Steve Colosi, Jr., Eric Duncanson, Jeff Higgins, Ph.D., Joe Maples, Sr., Sam Murphy, Jr., CGCS, Jerry Reid, George Rubin, Bill Wallin, Jr., and Steve Womble, CGCS.

Four members were recognized with life memberships – Fred Biggers, CGCS, Billy Lewis, Dicky McCarney, CGCS and Robert Smith.
Davis Wins Big Just in Time for Anniversary

Charles Davis, from Island Greens in Wilmington, NC, celebrates his 15th wedding anniversary in a few weeks and now has three thousand more reasons to take his wife somewhere nice for dinner. Davis was the winner of this year’s 27-Hole Challenge grand prize, which was a check for $3,000.

Davis’ name was drawn at the conclusion of the trade show, along with nearly 20 others, who shared in more than $10,000 in prizes. The ever-popular 27-Hole Challenge is presented in partnership with John Deere Golf, Greenville Turf and Tractor and Revels Turf and Tractor.

Shane Harrelson, from Statesville Country Club in Statesville, NC, was next in line on the prize list taking home a check for $2,000. Kelly Shaw, from Harbour Town Golf Links in Hilton Head, SC, won $500 as the major prize winner in the assistant superintendent drawing.

Davis joined the Carolinas in 2019. The City of Wilmington owns Inland Greens, which is a nine-hole par 3 course that is part of Inland Greens Park. Originally an 18-hole facility, the course was effectively halved with the old front nine becoming a park featuring a walking trail, bocce courts, picnic shelter and a playground.

One of the first people to congratulate Davis on his win was Clatus “Grit” Griddle, Jr., from Hillcrest Golf Course in Orangeburg, SC. Griddle won the grand prize in 2016 and used the proceeds to take his wife on a special vacation.