Due to an unforeseen issue with the advertiser link , this is a “re-send” of the August edition of the E-Carolinas Green. Be sure to visit our sponsor’s website at www.jrmonline.com.

August 2023

Daniel Island Team Delivers Championship Performance

Incoming Duke freshman, Bryan Kim, might be the new U.S. Junior champion but his was far from the only championship performance at Daniel Island Club in Charleston, SC in the past week. The other world-class effort was delivered by Daniel Island’s golf course maintenance team led by director of agronomy, Joey Franco, CGCS.

Franco and his staff managed to present the golf course in outstanding condition every day despite more than six inches of rain over the seven days of play, including practice rounds. Nearly four inches fell in less than two hours on the Sunday night before the first round of stroke play. With a field of 256 players in a double tee start over two courses the next morning, that meant Franco’s crew -with zero volunteers - was on deck at 2.30am to get the course back in order.

Another inch fell during the championship match on Saturday forcing the event into an extra day. But as the official media release from the USGA said announcing the winner, “the maintenance staff, led by superintendent Joey Franco, got the Ralston Creek Course in impeccable condition for the resumption of play for the 8 a.m. restart on Sunday.”

Franco arrived at Daniel Island Club in December of 2018, following the retirement of Carolinas GCSA past president and Distinguished Service Award winner, Mike Fabrizio, CGCS. “The team really did a great job,” Franco says. “The USGA folks were ecstatic when they arrived. Our goal was to not have to do any night-time mowing to get green speeds where they needed to be (in the 13.1 to 13.2 range). And there were only one or two nights where we had to mow one or two greens. So, I’m very proud of the team and the work they did. I’m really happy with how it went.”

Calendar of Events

August 17, 2023
Piedmont GCSA Night at the Ballpark - Greensboro Grasshoppers

August 23, 2023
Palmetto GCSA Championship -
Grande Dunes Resort

August 26, 2023
NSTA Family Night at the Charlotte Knights Game

August 29, 2023
Low Country GCSA and Coastal Plains GCSA Chapter Championship -
Brays Island Plantation

September 5, 2023
CPGCSA Scholarship Tournament
Bull Bay Golf Club

October 2 - 3, 2023
Fall Mountain Meeting
Linville Ridge Country Club
Linville, NC
Registration will open after Labor Day

October 8-10, 2023
Virlina Cup Golden Horseshoe Golf Club Williamsburg, VA

November 13-15, 2023
Annual Conference and Show Myrtle Beach Convention Center Myrtle Beach, SC Booth Sales open in July Attendee registration opens in September



Drews Enjoys “Cool” Start to his Summer

While summer has cranked up the heat for most golf course superintendents across the Carolinas, Stephen Drews at Meadowlands Golf Club in Calabash, NC has enjoyed a“cool” stretch. First, he found his way onto the Carolinas GCSA Virlina Cup team as a captain’s pick. Then he was honored as Employee of the Year by the Myrtle Beach Golf Course Owners Association.

Initially, Drews thought he had missed his chance for the Virlina Cup when he finished outside the top two of a qualifier he hosted at Meadowlands in June. Those spots went to Virlina Cup regulars Terry English, from the Oak Point course at Kiawah Island Resort, and Ryan Hull, from Anderson Creek Golf Club. But then Carolinas GCSA executive director, Tim Kreger, asked him if he would be busy in October.

“When I told him I wasn’t going to be he said that was good because he was naming me as his captain’s pick,” Drews says. “I said, ‘That’s awesome!’” It will be Drews’ second appearance at the Virlina Cup, which is being played this year at Golden Horseshoe Golf Club in Williamsburg, VA from October 8 to 10.

Others team members are Riley Boyette, Carolina Golf Club (Durham, NC); Chris Jones, Callawassie Island Club; Bradley Pope, Heritage Club; Steve Agazzi, Wilmington Municipal Golf Course; and sponsor’s pick, Barry Graham, CGCS Wildcat Cliffs Country Club. The Virlina Cup, contested against a team from the Virginia GCSA, is presented in partnership with Syngenta.

Then in July, Drews received the Employee of the Year award, after being nominated by his general manager and Myrtle Beach golf industry veteran, Harriss D’Antignac. The award is a significant feather in Drews’ cap since the field of candidates includes employees from any department at nearly100 golf facilities along the Grand Strand. Rivers Edge Golf Club in Shallotte, NC was named Golf Course of the Year.
Veteran Team to Host Annual Fall Meeting

One of the most tenured golf course maintenance teams in the business will host the Carolinas GCSA annual Fall Meeting at Linville Ridge Golf Club in the mountains of western North Carolina in October. Between them, Steve Sheets, Tommy Clark and Joel Whitley have dedicated almost 80 years to Linville Ridge, a George Cobb design renovated by Bobby Weed in 2007.

Sheets, now development and operations director, has been at the club since 1984. Golf course superintendent Clark interned there during school at Catawba Valley Community College and, outside two stints at other facilities, has spent more than 25 years at Linville Ridge. Assistant superintendent Whitley has a total of 13 years in the books.

“We have a great team for sure,” Sheets says. “But why Tommy would make the decision to come to work for me on three separate occasions is beyond me!” The truth is it wasn’t Clark who wanted to leave in the first place. Instead, it was Sheets who encouraged him to get off the mountain and see what it was like growing grass “down below.” The second time Clark left was to gain experience in new course construction.

The Fall Meeting begins with a reception at Linville Ridge on the evening of October 2 with education and a golf tournament the following day. At 4,949 feet, the course is the highest east of the Mississippi. The par 3 16th hole drops 110 feet from tee to green, the equivalent of an 11-story building. Weed’s work at Linville Ridge was awarded Golf Inc. magazine’s Renovation of the Year.

Sheets is one of only a small handful to have served multiple terms as Carolinas GCSA president. He won the Distinguished Service Award in 2015. “We’re looking forward to hosting this event at what is going to be a beautiful time of year,” he says. “The fall colors will be spectacular, and I know everyone will appreciate the cooler temperatures at this altitude.”

Neff and Merrick Join USGA Green Section

There comes a time in a man’s life…and Chris Neff knew this was his. Applying for the role of agronomist with the USGA Green Section amounted to the right opportunity at the right time. Better yet, he was already in the right place – in Bluffton, SC - and this job would allow him to stay there.

After close to a decade as director of golf course and grounds at Wexford Plantation on Hilton Head Island, Neff, 51, joined the USGA Green Section on July 24. He spent his first day on the job meeting colleagues from the USGA via Teams has been traveling pretty much since. He spent a day with Randall Glover at Kiawah Island Club then two helping out at the U.S. Junior Championship hosted by Joey Franco, CGCS at Daniel Island Club in Charleston.

Having worked five Tour Championships at TPC Sawgrass in Jacksonville, FL earlier in his career, the chance to reignite his passion for tournament golf was a big draw for Neff. “Working the Junior Am., that was like natural to me,” he says. “I must have said to my wife a hundred times over the past few years that I’d like to start working tournament golf again. So, this is kind of a dream job for me.”

Fellow Carolinas GCSA member, Brandi Merrick, has also joined the USGA Green section team. The USGA says, Merrick, who is completing her master’s degree at North Carolina State University, will “be contributing to all aspects of our education program.”

Merrick brings on-course experience as well as her academics. She spent three years at Pinehurst Resort and close to two and a half years at Omni Grove Park Inn Resort in Asheville, NC as an assistant superintendent. During her time at the Grove Park Inn, she was also an active leader of the Carolinas GCSA assistant superintendents committee.

Dog Days at Show After Dog Days of Summer

The sun will continue to beat down on golf courses across the Carolinas for some time yet but with the calendar flipping into August, the countdown to cooler temperatures and Conference and Show can begin. Attendee registration for this year’s show in Myrtle Beach, SC is just a month away, opening on the day after Labor Day, September 5. If registration goes like booth sales, there will be a stampede.

Early this week, only four booths remained to be sold on the trade show floor, reflective of golf’s resurgence spurred during the pandemic. “Business has been great across all aspects of the industry. We are seeing more new course construction, renovations and major projects than we have in years,” Carolinas GCSA executive director, Tim Kreger, says. “All of that is good news for our members and why I’m sure so many companies are eager to get face time with them at Conference and Show.”

Room reservations for the Sheraton Hotel at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center are open. While the Carolinas GCSA reserved a large room block, attendees are encouraged to go ahead and make their reservations now to avoid disappointment. Reservations can be made online or by calling (888) 627-8293 and citing the group ID: CA2983.

Among new features at this year’s show will be a gallery honoring some of the hardest, most loyal “workers” on the golf course maintenance team. Superintendents, assistants, indeed anyone on the golf course maintenance team who takes their dog to the golf course, are invited to send the Carolinas GCSA a photo of their dog at “work.”

Email your favorite image to info@cgcsa.org for a chance to have your dog included on the exhibit hall floor during the trade show. There will be a contest for the most popular pooch, as voted by attendees.