February 2021

Planning Begins for Comeback Conference and Show this Fall

Perhaps nothing will signal a return to normal like shaking hands and trading tales with friends at Conference and Show again this November. The cancelation of the 2020 show created a void on many fronts – not least including association revenues and professional development. Conference Comes to You, the web-based education platform, addressed some of those shortfalls but nothing could substitute for the sight of so many familiar faces.

The good news is that wheels are in motion for the Carolinas GCSA to roll back into Myrtle Beach with a comeback Conference and Show this fall. Association executive committee members will meet next week to formulate a road map and a Conference and Show committee planning meeting is penciled in for the end of this month.

“Obviously, there are many unknowns that need to be answered between now and November. And if 2020 taught us anything it is that we can take nothing for granted,” Carolinas GCSA president, Brian Stiehler, CGCS, MG, says. “But we are fortunate that our conference falls when it does. Current projections suggest that the vast majority of the population will have been vaccinated by that point.”

Accordingly, hopes are high for an event with all the characteristics that have made Conference and Show such a success over the years. Having said that, new virus variants and challenges with the vaccination program suggest continued uncertainty for some time yet.

“Even so, we want members to know that we intend to plan for the best-case scenario, as well as for some scenarios that might demand some adaptations,” Stiehler says. “We all did that at our individual facilities and made it work. We are determined to do all we can to ensure an in-person show and if that means having to switch up some things to comply with health directives at the time then we’re going to look at that.”

This year’s Conference and Show is scheduled for November 15 to 17.

Calendar of Events

February 22 March 2
NSTA Virtual Education Conference

March 8
Low Country GCSA Member-Member - The Golf Club at Indigo Run

January 13 - February 17
Mindful Leadership Sessions

March 3, 10, 17, 24, 31
Assistant Superintendent Virtual Sessions
1 2:30 p.m.
Registration will open at noon
on Friday, February 12

Mark Your Calendar!
Carolinas GCSA
Annual Conference & Trade Show
November 15 - 17
Myrtle Beach Convention Center
Myrtle Beach, SC


If Rounds are Ruled Out Consider a Cash Gift

While golf has fared better than many industries during the pandemic, organizers are concerned the virus could have a negative impact on this year’s Rounds 4 Research auction. They worry that pandemic protocols introduced to protect members at private clubs could mean some clubs are unable to donate rounds. As a result, the Carolinas GCSA is working hard to remind potential donors that they can make cash donations instead.

“We have already heard from some private facilities that they can’t donate a tee time because they are restricted to member-only play because of the pandemic,” Chuck Connolly, Carolinas GCSA Rounds 4 Research committee chair, says. “We want them, and every other facility for that matter, whether private or public, to know that it is always possible to make a cash donation.”

Connolly, from Smithfields Country Club in Easley, says some of the more exclusive private clubs in the region have exercised the cash gift option in the past. “They realize that every single facility in the Carolinas benefits from the research and they want to do their part to contribute,” he says. “Obviously, golfers want to see tee times. Tee times are preferred because they offer opportunities to showcase what we do and who we are. But when that is not possible, for whatever reason, a cash donation means money still flows to where it needs to be. And that is in the laboratories and field plots of researchers we rely on to stay ahead of the pests and diseases that compromise our ability to produce the kind of conditions golfers expect.”

This year’s Rounds 4 Research auction runs from April 26 to May 2. Donations of rounds or cash can be made at www.eifg.org at any time. “But the sooner the better,” Connolly says. “That helps generate more interest among the bidders and it’s also one thing superintendents can check off their never-ending to-do list.”
Beach Loses More Holes But with a Silver Lining

Myrtle Beach has lost some more golf holes but not because of the pandemic. Founders Group International effectively has done away with one of three nines at Aberdeen Country Club after repeated flooding events. The good news is that the golf course maintenance budget will remain unchanged.

“You don’t like do it,” Founders Group vice-president of agronomy, Max Morgan, CGCS, says. “Man, I hate to give up product. But in this case, it’s not the end of the world. There were really only about 10 days a year when we’re hitting home runs that we needed that third nine. And it was everybody’s least favorite nine. On the flipside, the rest of the golf course will benefit because we’ll retain the same amount of people and resources.”

The first and ninth holes of the Woodlands nine will be retained and maintained, partly for aesthetic reasons because of their proximity to the clubhouse. “They could be used if people have a match that’s dormie or they want to settle a bet,” Morgan says. “They could also be used for practice. And they will give us some flexibility if we need to close a hole or two if we need to take care of a project.”

A Tom Jackson design, Aberdeen opened in 1989. “We bought it in 1999 and then it flooded when Hurricane Floyd came through,” Morgan says. “But then it didn’t flood at all for 14 years straight. Then it flooded in 2015, ’16 and ’18. The water was within an inch of the clubhouse in ’15, knee deep in the clubhouse in ’16 and chest deep in ’18.”

The closed holes are farthest away from Highway 9, closest to Buck Creek and have no housing. Aberdeen is now a 6,711-yard par-72 made up of the Meadows and Highlands nines.

Calling All Scholars for Bennett-Maples Grants

The Carolinas GCSA is calling for applications for 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. Last year, 22 successful applicants, the most in the history of the program, each received grants of $1,000. They were chosen from a record 32 applications.

“The program has grown and grown in terms of both participation and giving,” Carolinas GCSA executive director Tim Kreger says. “It is now a very competitive program which is a credit to the next generation, and to their parents and grandparents, those people who are our members.”

Partly for that reason, the scholarship committee is refining some application criteria. The application deadline remains May 1 but now applications must be received by email, in complete form, by 5pm that day.

“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 new 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.

Full details and application information is available at Scholarships (carolinasgcsa.org).

Fruchte Takes on Third Ross Course Renovation

In his 31 years maintaining golf courses in the Pinehurst area, David Fruchte, CGCS might have seen as much sand overturned as Donald Ross himself. Fruchte has worked through multiple renovations at Pine Needles Lodge and Golf Club and Mid Pines Resort, both Ross designs. Now, he’s in the midst of renovating another Ross creation, Southern Pines Golf Club.

The renovation aims to bring Southern Pines out of decades in the shadows, both figuratively and literally. In a region known around the world for exceptional golf, Southern Pines occupied a place away from spotlight, partly because of limited resources. The golf course itself also spent a lot of time in the dark thanks to nearly a century of tree growth.

“We are taking out a lot of trees, that’s for sure,” Fruchte says of the project with golf course architect Kyle Franz, that will open some broad vistas on the significantly undulating property. “There is new irrigation, not completely, but new heads, wiring, and all new greens loops. We’ve also put in a bunch of bunkers. When you look over Nos. 1, 17 and 18 now you probably see more bunkers than were on the entire course before.”

Fruchte says the course has remained open during work so far and will remain open, with temporary greens, when the current bentgrass gives way to either Sunday or Mini-Verde bermudagrass in May. “We haven’t decided which way to go just yet,” he says. But the grass will go down on greens that will see some reshaping.

Other features of the renovation include introducing native areas behind bunkers that will be highlighted with wiregrass, broomsedge and centipedegrass. “It will be a different look than what’s been there,” he says. “The goal is to take it back to what it looked like in the early 1900s. There will probably be some areas of rough in the fairways on some holes, where you will have to carry the rough.”

The project is scheduled for completion in September, which is a good thing for Fruchte. Next year he will host a record fourth U.S. Women’s Open at Pine Needles.

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