February 2022

Connell Takes Reins As SCGA President

Carolinas GCSA past president Jeffrey Connell from Fort Jackson Golf Club in Columbia is credited with creating some U.S. golfing history in January when he was elected president of the South Carolina Golf Association. Golf administrators believe that makes him the first career superintendent to ever lead a state or regional golf association.

“We are still asking around because there are dozens of associations like ours in the U.S., and most have long histories. But so far, everyone we’ve spoken to believes this is a first,” SCGA executive director, Biff Lathrop, says. Connell, 51, who served as Carolinas GCSA president in 2010, will lead the SCGA for two years.

“Whether this is a first or not, I’m proud to represent my profession and my industry as president of the South Carolina Golf Association,” Connell says. “This association is one of the strongest and most active there is and we’re looking to build on that record. What I can say for sure is that I won’t be the last superintendent to lead a state golf association. Today’s superintendents have broad skill sets well-suited to organizational management, and many are also deeply vested in the health and well-being of the game itself.”

Another Carolinas GCSA past president, Randy Allen, now with Modern Turf, served on the board of the Carolinas Golf Association during the last decade. A major figure in the Myrtle Beach, SC market at The Dunes Golf and Beach Club and with Burroughs and Chapin, Allen earned the Carolinas GCSA Distinguished Service Award in 2006.

Connell’s career in the Carolinas includes time at Florence Country Club, Northwoods Golf Club and Columbia Country Club. He studied landscape architecture at the University of Kentucky and horticulture at Eastern Kentucky University. He and his wife, Michelle, live in Blythewood with their three boys, Cheney, Aidan Cooper and Grayson.

Calendar of Events

February 1, 2022
UTA January Meeting - The Clinton House Plantation

February 16, 2022
Palmetto GCSA Education Meeting - HGTC

February 16, 2022
CPGCSA Scott Martin Fundraiser Tournament - The Golf Club at Briar's Creek - Johns Island, SC

March 14 - 15, 2022
Southeast Regional Conference and Golf Outing Lonnie Poole Golf Course Raleigh, NC

October 16 - 17, 2022
Fall Mountain Meeting Blowing Rock Country Club Blowing Rock NC

November 14 - 16, 2022
Carolinas GCSA Annual Conference and Show Myrtle Beach Convention Center Myrtle Beach, SC




Auction Time Should Mean Action Time

If you are a golf course superintendent who doesn’t believe turfgrass research is important, feel free to stop reading right now. If you’re still reading – and you should be - you have a job to do over the next few weeks. Get your facility to donate to this year’s Rounds 4 Research auction, from April 25 to May 1.

Otherwise, you’re letting down your facility, your colleagues who do go to the trouble and, ultimately, yourself. Sadly, there are more than a few of you – actually, there is a lot - who fall into this category.

Here’s a cold hard fact that doesn’t reflect well on us here in the Carolinas – when the program launched in 2009, we offered more than 250 tee-times. Last year, we offered 205. When the program launched in 2009, golf, like many industries, was basically in the tank because of the Great Recession. Last year, it was one of the best years in decades thanks to a boom in play sparked by the pandemic.

Simply put, business has gotten a whole lot better since Rounds 4 Research began yet support for the program in the Carolinas – where it all began – has gone downhill. That makes no sense, unless superintendents really don’t value the research. And that would be hard to comprehend.

Yes, some facilities are private to the point they don’t allow unaccompanied guest play – so make a cash donation. Yes, some facilities had a no-guest policy during the worst of the pandemic – if that’s still the case, make a cash donation, and if not, donate a round. Yes, some facilities had full tee-sheets – all the more reason they could afford to make one slot available for auction.

Despite closures resulting in large part from that recession, there are still more than 850 golf facilities in the Carolinas. Last year, only 165 stepped up with a tee-time and some of them offered more than one. That’s a participation ratio of roughly 1:5. Would you let your crew operate like that? One guy, mowing everything while five sat by and watched.

Donate now.

Heading to Lonnie Poole At Long, Long, Last

Third time lucky? It has been a long time coming but finally Lonnie Poole Golf Course in Raleigh, NC is about to host the Southeast Regional Conference and golf tournament. Carolinas GCSA members will gather with other golf industry leaders at Lonnie Poole on March 14 and 15 for an event that was supposed to happen two years ago.

The first attempt in 2020 was shutdown with the onset of the pandemic and the second try in 2021 suffered the same fate as the pandemic dragged on. A spike in COVID infections also led to the Carolinas GCSA postponing the annual winter meeting in January. But that trend has shifted, and association leaders are now confident that Lonnie Poole and host superintendent and Carolinas GCSA director, Brian Green, will have their day.

A major item for discussion at the conference will be another issue that has dogged the golf industry in recent years, labor. Carson Letot, Ph.D. candidate, from Penn State, will present a talk on recruitment and retention in today’s labor market, and Devon Carroll, Ph.D., from the University of Tennessee, will present on the presence, or lack thereof, of women in the turfgrass industry.

“Labor seems to be one of the primary concerns for the vast majority of golf courses,” says USGA Green Section agronomist, Jordan Booth, who is helping prepare the conference. “With that said, we will still be working closely with North Carolina State’s team to hit the most important agronomic topics. We’re also looking to highlight two huge events in the Carolinas this year, the U.S. Women’s Open at Pine Needles in June and the Presidents Cup at Quail Hollow in September.”

Other highlights of the conference include separate panel discussions on weed management and another on disease management. Look for more details and registration information soon at www.carolinasgcsa.org.

Deep Roots Series to Make Better Leaders

In response to popular demand, not to mention the demands of our time, the Carolinas GCSA is proud to present a special seminar series on leadership. Deep Roots Leadership is a five-part virtual seminar series delivered by Paul MacCormack and Chris Tritabaugh, beginning on February 14. The series will take a deep dive into what it takes to be an effective, efficient and healthy leader in today’s society.

MacCormack, superintendent and general manager at Fox Meadow Golf Club in Canada, has built a strong reputation bringing mindfulness and self-care tools to golf course superintendents in recent years. Along the way, he has worked closely with Tritabaugh, golf course superintendent and 2016 Ryder Cup host at Hazeltine National Golf Club.

“We’re excited to make this opportunity available to our members,” says Carolinas GCSSA executive director, Tim Kreger. “Paul was a great contributor during Conference Comes to You and we have had nothing but great feedback from members who have been a part of his sessions. I’m sure what he and Chris will bring to the table on leadership will be just as eye-opening.”

The series will cover –

  • Presence: what it means to be “in the moment” and how it can really impact your life.
  • Effort: exploring the impact of effort and expectations and what it means to work.
  • Process: how the methods we adopt shape our life and our work.
  • Learning and Unlearning: how the balance between the gaining and losing knowledge influences our success as leaders and as people.
  • Reflection: an open-ended opportunity for questions and discussion.

The fee to participate in the entire series of 90-minute seminars is $50. Look for registration details soon at Conference Comes to You.

A Wonderful Solution To a Weighty Issue

Kyle Callahan always knew there was a lot to gain in losing some weight, but he had no idea just how much. Tired of being “on the larger side,” Callahan, director of golf course and grounds at Thornblade Club in Greer, SC, reached out to a colleague and together they came up with the idea for a weight loss challenge with money on the line.

“We thought if we could get 15 or 20 people to kick in $100 that would be a big enough prize to get people excited,” he says. That was back in November. And, thanks to Twitter, people did get excited. Today, a total of 142 colleagues in golf course maintenance circles are shedding pounds as part of Callahan’s weight loss challenge.

Callahan, who at his heaviest weighed 360lbs, says that even with $14,200 up for grabs, the prizemoney is secondary. The number he says that really matters is the progressive total of weight lost across the field. As of the end of January, that number was a staggering 1,193lbs.

“I’d done the yo-yo thing,” Callahan says, cycling through losing weight then putting it right back on. “When I came here (to Thornblade in May, 2020) I got down to 280lbs, but then blew back up. I called a friend and told him I was tired of it, tired of that game.”

Over that call with, Tony Nysse, from Mountain Lake Golf Club in Florida, the pair came up with an outline for their program. Their initial target of 15 to 20 participants was soon exceeded, and every time they bumped up the goal, even more people signed up. As a result, they spread the prize pool across a range of categories. “We didn’t want people dropping out if they felt they didn’t have a chance of winning something,” Callahan says.

For the full story on the weight loss challenge and how Callahan made his way to the Carolinas from Oklahoma, tune in to the latest Pullin’ Weeds podcast, out today.