April 2023

Conference Highlights New Course Builds

New course construction was a major topic at this year’s Southeast Regional Conference at Clemson University last week. It was the first time in many years that multiple new course builds had any prominence at the annual event. But such is the industry’s resurgence that the three projects featured at the conference were only some of the new courses either under way or on the horizon in the Carolinas.

Old Barnwell, Tree Farm and Pinehurst’s No. 10 course were discussed at length by each project’s lead agronomist, John Lavelle, Nick Roth and Kevin Robinson, CGCS respectively. Other projects online in the Carolinas include Broomsedge, near Columbia, SC, and Cypress Shoals in North Augusta, SC. That kind of activity earned the panel discussion the title of “The Epicenter of New Golf Construction.”

“It’s phenomenal to see what’s going on in the Carolinas currently. It says so much about our region’s profile in the industry and in the marketplace,” says Carolinas GCSA executive director, Tim Kreger. “And there’s no doubt that our members, both superintendents and industry partners, have played a huge role in establishing that reputation for excellence that gives developers confidence.”

For all the new, the conference also honored some of the past with a number of heartfelt remembrances of the late Bill Anderson, CGCS. Anderson died unexpectedly in December but his contribution to the industry through more than 40 years at Carmel Country Club in Charlotte, NC, as a past president of the Carolinas GCSA and later as Carolinas Golf Association agronomist, was highlighted several times throughout the program.

A golf tournament the day before went ahead despite torrential overnight rain which was a credit to host Don Garrett, CGCS and his staff. Garrett’s diamond zoysiagrass greens earned wide praise. Among tournament highlights was a hole in one by Kyle Traynham, from Willow Creek Golf and Country Club in Duncan, SC.

Calendar of Events

April 11
TTA 2023 Bob Mashburn Scholarship Tournament - North Ridge Country Club - Lakes Course - Raleigh, NC

April 12
Palmetto GCSA Education Meeting - HGTC - Conway Campus - Building 300

April 13
UTA 3's Greenville Social

April 14
Piedmont GCSA Year Long Match Play and Pairings Party - Holly Ridge Golf Links

April 18
NSTA Fundraiser Golf Event Benefiting the 1st Tee Program - Emerald Lake Golf Club - Matthews, NC

April 27
2023 Hamrick Cup - The Country Club of Spartanburg - Spartanburg, SC

May 13
Sandhills GCSA Baseball Outing - Fayetteville Woodpeckers - Fayetteville, NC



Late Superintendent Leaves Major Gift to NC State

Money bequeathed by a longtime Carolinas GCSA member will help pay for upgrades and improvements at North Carolina State University’s Lake Wheeler Turfgrass Field Laboratory. The Stephen B. Womble Living Trust has distributed more than $142,000 to the lab, to be used “exclusively to improve operations and maintain the facilities.”

“This is one of the more substantial gifts the turf program has ever received,” says Dr. Jim Kerns, professor and extension specialist of turfgrass pathology at NC State. “It’s going to be pretty amazing to help us do things like plot renovations, and some updates we haven’t been able to do because we have not had the budget. It’s a pretty awesome gift.”

Womble was a certified golf course superintendent for more than 40 years, who spent his career in eastern North Carolina, most recently at Wildwood Green Golf Club in Raleigh. He made his start in golf course maintenance as a teenager working part time on the construction of Croasdaile Country Club in Durham.

In 1965, after graduating high school, he volunteered and served in Vietnam as an U.S. Army medic for the 168th Army Combat Engineer Brigade known as the “Jungle Eaters.” He was honorably discharged in 1967.

Back in civilian life, he attended NC State and was among the turfgrass program’s first graduating class. He remained a staunch advocate of the program throughout his life and after retiring, spent six years as manager of the NC State Faculty Club.

“We plan to formally acknowledge Steve’s gift at our field day in August,” Kerns says. “And since we just learned of this gift, we’ll be able to provide a more detailed accounting at that time of how we plan to use the money.” Womble died in December 2021.

One of America’s Top 100 Joins Rounds 4 Research

One of top-ranked courses in the U.S. is among newcomers from the Carolinas in this year’s Rounds 4 Research auction which runs from April 24 to 30. The Tom Fazio designed Wade Hampton Golf Club in Cashiers, NC has donated a round for three players in the company of a host. Wade Hampton, where Eric Shomaker is director of grounds operations, currently ranks 26th on Golf Digest’s list of America’s Greatest Golf Courses.

Carolinas GCSA Rounds 4 Research committee co-chair, Daryl Ewing, expects “intense” bidding competition for the opportunity to play Wade Hampton. “We’re very pleased that Wade Hampton is taking part for the first time,” Ewing says. “We hope the club’s participation inspires some of the other top-ranked facilities in the Carolinas to follow suit.”

Ewing says recruiting more participation from that echelon of courses has been a major focus this year. Committee members and Carolinas GCSA board members have been making calls and sending emails to the top 50 facilities in North and South Carolina encouraging their support.

“The fact is that the higher-end clubs have the greatest likelihood to capitalize fully on the research that the auction helps pay for,” Ewing says. “So, I think that puts a greater onus on the courses with the resources to support the auction. Some of the mid- and low-budget courses that might not have the money to take full advantage of programs or methods that the research recommends.

“With less than a month before the auction, now is the time for the donations to start rolling in hot and heavy. We really need members to get active and make it happen.” As of the past weekend, the Carolinas had generated about 180 donations, still about 70 short of the number donated in 2022.

Donate to Rounds 4 Rounds 4 Research now.

Calling on Entries for Canine Corner at Show

Most golf course superintendents say they can tackle just about anything if they have a good assistant and a good equipment manager. But when it comes to brightening a superintendent’s day, no staff member comes close to doing what a good dog can do. And that’s why the Carolinas GCSA invites superintendents to celebrate their canines this year by sending us your best picture of your favorite furry friend at work.

The best photos will be put on display on the trade show floor during Conference and Trade Show in Myrtle Beach, SC in November. Showgoers will have the chance to choose which golf course dog they think is the cream of the crop. The winner will be announced at the end of the trade show with a prize for the winning owner.

“Most superintendents know that a good dog can be an active contributor to the work of the golf course maintenance department,” says Carolinas GCSA president, Chuck Connolly. “Sure, they can keep geese at bay, but they can also do a lot for morale. A little unconditional love when you’re having a tough day can go a long, long way mentally and emotionally. They’re going to love you no matter what condition your greens might be in.”

Just ask Patrick Dryman, assistant superintendent at Forest Creek Golf Club in Pinehurst, NC. His five-year-old pit bull, Bullet, gets to ride the course with him on weekends. “She absolutely loves it,” he says. “She gets to run around and chase squirrels.” This past winter she also dressed for the outings in a blue sweater bought by Dryman’s wife.

More details on the contest will follow but for now, Carolinas GCSA members can begin emailing their best photos of their golf course dog to info@cgcsa.org. Please include your name along with the name, age and breed of your dog. And send your image as a full or large size file.

Deadline for Scholarship Applications Looming

The clock is ticking on this year’s Bennett-Maples Scholarships. The scholarship program provides financial support for the college education of children and grandchildren of qualifying Carolinas GCSA superintendent and assistant superintendent members. The program delivered $43,000 in grants over the past two years alone. The deadline for applications this year is 5pm EST on Monday, May 1.

“Obviously, there is a lot of work entailed in processing the applications,” Kreger says. “To be fair to all concerned, we now ask that everyone submit their complete application package by the advertised deadline. In the past, we tried to be as accommodating as we could, but the sheer volume of applications means we can no longer accept applications delivered in stages. Only applications delivered in complete form will be considered.”

To be eligible, one or more of the applicant’s parents or grandparents, who is the applicant’s legal guardian, must be an active Class A, B, C, A-retired, B-retired, or AA current member of the Carolinas GCSA.

The Bennett-Maples Scholarship honors Grant Bennett and Henson Maples, who helped found the Carolinas GCSA at Myers Park Country Club in Charlotte, NC in 1954. The program received a major boost early last year when Carolinas GCSA and industry legend, Palmer Maples, Jr., CGCS donated shares worth more than $22,000 to the scholarship fund. Palmer Maples is a cousin of Henson Maples, although he always referred to the elder as “uncle.”

Palmer Maples was at Charlotte Country Club when he was Carolinas GCSA president in 1967-’69. He served as GCSAA president in 1975. Among numerous honors he has received are the GCSAA Distinguished Service Award in 1999, the USGA Green Section Award in 2000 and Carolinas GCSA Distinguished Service Award in 2001. He recently moved back to the Carolinas (Raleigh, NC) after many years in Kansas City, MO and also married on January 1.