April 2024

New Challenges Underline Need for Turf Research

Anyone questioning the importance of the annual Rounds 4 Research auction should be shown a replay of some things Dr. Fred Yelverton said at this year’s Southeast Turfgrass Conference at North Carolina State University in March. Yelverton described a turf-growing landscape now dramatically different from the one he began working in some 40 years ago.

“September is now August temperature-wise,” he said. “Summer is getting longer, and winter is getting warmer.” To illustrate his point, Yelverton explained that he’d never seen goosegrass germinating in North Carolina in February until six years ago. But in the five years since, he has seen it another three times.

He also showed a photo someone had sent him of goosegrass germinating north of Richmond, VA in February. As the climate shifts, he said, “I fully expect we will see goosegrass in the mountains.”

“If we get perennial goosegrass here, well, we’ll have to change everything,” he continued. “But we’re going to work it out. We can do it. But that speaks to the importance of ongoing research and raising money for that research.”

Yelverton also cited increasingly wet winters which were reducing the effectiveness of weed control applications. Warmer winters were also inducing earlier green up making more turf vulnerable to winter injury.

But, speaking to a full house at the conference presented in collaboration with the USGA Green Section, Yelverton, who retires this year, said the shifting climate wasn’t the only challenge for superintendents. The growing incidence of resistance in an agronomic setting and shifting regulations were other factors driving the need for new tools and new thinking for golf course managers.

This year’s Rounds 4 Research auction runs April 22 through 28. Carolinas GCSA members are urged to secure donations from their facilities as soon as possible. They can register their donations directly from the homepage on the Carolinas GCSA website.

Calendar of Events

April 3
Palmetto GCSA Education Meeting - Horry Georgetown Technical College - Conway, SC

April 12
Piedmont GCSA Match Play Team Championship and Pairings Party - Holly Ridge Golf Links - Archdale, NC

April 18
UTA Annual Par 3 - Skins Game - 3's Greenville, SC

April 25
2024 Hamrick Cup - River Bend YMCA Golf Course - Shelby, NC

April 28
TTA Family Fun Day with the Durham Bulls

September 23, 2024
Wee One Tournament Country
Club of Lexington
Lexington, SC

October 13 -14, 2024
Fall Mountain Meeting
Grandfather Golf & Country Club
Linville, NC

October 14 - 15, 2024
Virlina Cup
Wildcat Cliffs Country Club
Highlands, NC

November 18 - 20, 2024
Annual Conference and Show
Myrtle Beach Convention Center
Myrtle Beach, SC




Wolfpack Run Starts on Back of Turf Conference

Brian Green would like to host every Southeast Turfgrass Conference at North Carolina State University from here on out. Green, the Carolinas GCSA secretary-treasurer and superintendent at Lonnie Poole Golf Course at NC State, thinks that would be a great omen for the future of Wolfpack men’s basketball.

In partnership with the USGA Green Section, Green hosted this year’s Southeast Conference on campus on March 12, just as the annual ACC tournament got under way in Washington, DC. It’s fair to say that at that moment only the diehard supporters held high hopes. The Wolfpack had lost seven of their last nine games, including the last four in a row.

Then the magic began. They won five games in five days to hoist the ACC championship trophy in what was being widely described as a “fairytale” run, even at that point. What has happened since has taken that tag to a whole new level.

At one time not so long ago, bookmakers rated the Wolfpack’s chances of becoming national champs at somewhere between 500-1 and 1000-1. Despite that pessimism, they rattled off wins against Texas Tech, Oakland, Marquette and then Duke to become only the fifth 11 seed to make the final four in NCAA history. Their sights are now set on Purdue, a No. 1 seed, on Saturday night. NC State’s women, who enjoyed a great regular season and lost the final of the conference championship, play South Carolina on Friday for a spot in the championship game.

So, what flicked the switch so dramatically for the men? As it turns out, the Butler did it.

After appearing on a panel at the conference, NC State extension coordinator Lee Butler walked right by the statue of Jim Valvano outside Reynolds Coliseum on his way home. The late Valvano coached NC State to an unlikely national championship in 1983. As he passed, Butler looked up at the legendary Jimmy V and said: “Coach, we need you now, more than ever.”

That evening the Wolfpack began its run.

“Neat Opportunity” at Southeast Conference

Carolinas GCSA members will prepare a substantial share of center stage this golf season hosting the 124th U.S. Open, a brand-new PGA Tour event and two of the highest profile regular stops on Tour. The two-month stretch running from April 18 through June 16 will provide “an incredible and sustained level of exposure” for both Carolinas states, says Carolinas GCSA president, Pete Gerdon, from Grandfather Golf and Country Club in Linville, NC.

“Who knows what this period will mean in terms of economic impact, but it should leave no one in any doubt as to just how important the game is to both states,” Gerdon adds. “As an association, we can be very proud of the quality I know the host superintendents will present. Each of them is at the top of their field. It’s going to be great stretch for golf and for the Carolinas GCSA.”

On April 18, Jonathan Wright kicks off with the Heritage Classic presented by Boeing at Harbour Town Golf Links in Hilton Head. It will be Wright’s 26th Heritage Classic since arriving as an assistant superintendent in early 1998. He took over the lead role at the end of 2008.

Then on May 9, the Carolinas will stage simultaneous events either side of the border with Keith Wood hosting the Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte, NC and Carolinas GCSA past-president Steve Hamilton, CGCS in charge of the course for the inaugural Myrtle Beach Classic at The Dunes Golf and Beach Club. John Jeffreys and the celebrated team from Pinehurst Resort then host the U.S. Open at Pinehurst No. 2 beginning June 13.

“We wish all these superintendents the very best and I also want to give a shout out to all those other superintendents, assistants and industry partners who will be there giving their time as volunteers,” Gerdon says.

Carolinas Leaders Steer Kids in First Green

It is a return to the growing season in more ways than one. This spring, Carolinas GCSA members are also growing interest in golf and the work of golf course superintendents through GCSAA’s First Green program. First Green is a science, technology, engineering, arts and math (STEAM) environmental outreach program that uses the golf course as a living laboratory.

Late March, Carolinas GCSA past-president and current board member, Don Garrett, CGCS hosted nearly 40 students from R.C. Edwards Middle School at The Walker Course at Clemson University. It was Garrett’s fourth official First Green field trip, but he’d hosted numerous school groups long before the launch of the national program.
“We spent two hours on the course rotating around five stations: irrigation technology, soils and soil sampling, equipment technology, the game of golf and putting contest, and cool tools and changing the cup,” Garrett says. “Prior to the stations, I spoke about the environmental benefits of golf courses, and at the end of the stations, I discussed career opportunities in the golf industry. Then we went to the maintenance building and had a pizza lunch, gave out prizes to the putting contest winners and handed out goody bags that GCSAA provided.”

Then, just yesterday, fellow Carolinas GCSA board member, Jeremy Boone, CGCS hosted his third First Green outing at Springdale Resort in Canton, NC. Boone hosted sixth grade students from Bethel Middle School with the help of staff from the Carolinas GCSA office and colleagues from nearby courses.

“We’re proud that our members are investing this kind of time and effort into future generations,” Carolinas GCSA executive director, Tim Kreger, says. “Maybe some find their way into a career in golf down the track, maybe not. But at the very least, these kids go home with a positive view of the game and hopefully as informal ambassadors.”

New Broomsedge Course Close to Seeing Grass

Broomsedge in Rembert, SC, one of the newest golf course projects in the Carolinas, expects to pass another important milestone this week with the arrival of its pump station. The Kyle Franz-Mike Koprowski design follows Old Barnwell and Tree Farm as new entrants along the South Carolina sandbelt. There are hopes of a soft opening this fall but the curtain is not expected to fully go up until late spring or early summer next year.

Although a private club, Broomsedge plans to welcome non-member play akin to the operating models typically found in the British Isles, where certain days, or periods of time, are made available to visitors. Another twist at Broomsedge is that golf course superintendent, Shawn Fettig, plans to use GPS-based variable spreading technology during grow-in.

“It’s something that I don’t think has been done on this scale, but it be pretty cool, I think,” Fettig says. Adjustments that the system can provide delivering fertility will be important on a soil profile that is a mix of areas of sand and of clay. “I wouldn’t say there’s a homogenous blend out here.”

Fettig says most of the property has a two-foot sand cap but there are pockets of clay and where the surface has been moved, more clay is exposed. “Not there has been a lot of soil moved,” he adds. “We have some really prominent valleys on this property, with some cool kicks and cool movement within the fairways. There has been some earth movement but only to really highlight what was already there, and in some cases, it has been to soften some of the shelves, and valleys and plateaus.”

Once the pump station is in action, Fettig, who formerly at Old Town Club in Winston-Salem, NC will begin grassing with 419 bermudagrass on fairways and TifEagle on the greens.