June 2021

Carolinas Tops National Research Auction Again

The Carolinas GCSA once again leads the nation in support for Rounds 4 Research, the online auction of donated tee-times to raise money for turfgrass research. The Carolinas netted just under $50,000 in this year’s auction in May, from the sale of 205 items donated by 165 golf facilities in the region. Four other facilities made cash donations.

The next highest total was raised by Georgia, netting close to $33,000 with Florida just behind with nearly $32,000. Historic Palmetto Golf Club in Aiken, SC fetched the highest return for any one item from the Carolinas drawing a bid of $6,025.

“Considering that this auction came just nine months after the last one which was delayed because of the pandemic, we were pleasantly surprised by the outcome,” Carolinas GCSA executive director, Tim Kreger, says. “Our number of donations were down but those we did have attracted strong interest.”

In addition to the quick turnaround between auctions, Kreger suspects donor support was hampered for several other reasons. One, some facilities were still under guest restrictions in the lead up to the auction, and two, many facilities are in the midst of their busiest times in years with packed tee sheets.

“We are grateful to all those facilities that supported the auction, including those which made cash donations because they were unable to donate a tee-time,” Kreger says. “I’m looking forward to next year’s auction already. Hopefully, the pandemic will be well behind us by then and facilities will be in a strong position to support this auction that delivers so much good to the industry.”

Nationally, this year’s auction netted more than $336,000 from the sale of more than 1,100 items. The auction has now raised more than $2 million since 2012 when it went national after being created and successfully launched in the Carolinas in 2009.

Calendar of Events

June 23, 2021
Low Country GCSA Education Seminars - Rose Hill Clubhouse - Bluffton, SC

November 15 - 17, 2021
Carolinas GCSA Annual Conference
& Trade Show
Myrtle Beach Convention Center,
Myrtle Beach, SC
Booth Sales will open after the 4th of July
Attendee Registration will open after Labor Day



Conference and Show: Welcome Back Y’all

Golf boomed during the pandemic and Carolinas GCSA leaders hope that trend carries over to the return of an in-person Conference and Trade Show this November. “I wouldn’t be surprised if this show challenges attendance records,” Carolinas GCSA executive director, Tim Kreger, says.

Kreger’s optimism is fueled by several factors. It is reasonable to expect there will be a lot of pent-up demand after the pandemic forced the cancellation of the traditional Conference and Show in 2020. Further, more golf facilities can afford to send their superintendent after, what was for many, a record year.

“And Lord knows, superintendents and their teams worked hard to allow that to happen,” Kreger says. “They deserve a break and a chance to recharge their batteries. Getting together among colleagues and friends at Conference and Show is the ideal way to do that.

“Honestly, golf has been so busy during the pandemic that I hope every facility in the region is ready to reward their superintendent with a trip to our Show. What better way to say thanks and invest in their superintendent’s ongoing professional development?”

For the first time, this year’s Conference will feature education seminars on the Monday morning. This gives attendees the chance to take as many as four different seminars, with education also on Monday afternoon, as well as Tuesday morning and afternoon.

To ensure members still had access to ongoing education last year, the association created an online conference program, Conference Comes to You, that delivered 30 seminars in 30 days with nearly 2,200 seats sold. Kreger says the association will continue to monitor the pandemic and be ready to adapt as necessary. “But given the current trajectory, we expect to offer the kind of Conference and Show that has made this event the largest regional event of its kind for superintendents in the country,” he says.

This year’s show runs November 15 to 17. Booth sales open the week after Fourth of July and seminar and attendee registration opens the week after Labor Day.

Carolinas Calendar Still A Work in Progress

While Conference and Show is definitely back on this fall, the rest of the Carolinas GCSA calendar is still a work in progress. As things stand, the only other confirmed association event is the return of the Virlina Cup in October. The fate of the annual fall mountain meeting remains up in the air, pending the status of pandemic protocols at the scheduled host club.

The Virlina Cup challenge against superintendents from the Virginia GCSA is set for James River Country Club in Newport News from October 10 to 12. Qualifying sites for the Carolinas team will be announced soon and will likely be limited to two events with two players
qualifying for the team at each site.

Two Carolinas GCSA members have been waiting a long time to take their place on the team after last year’s Virlina Cup was cancelled because of the pandemic. Terry English from Kiawah Island Resort’s Oak Point Course qualified in November of 2019 when he won his first Carolinas GCSA superintendent championship. English is the only player in the history of the Virlina Cup to have represented both sides. He played for Virginia twice while working at The Olde Farm in Bristol then moved the Carolinas and switched sides in the last Virlina Cup in October of 2019.

Dylan Jordan from Dormie Club qualified when he won the association’s assistant superintendent championship at the 2020 annual winter meeting at the Country Club of Landfall. That meeting, 16 months ago, was the most recent Carolinas GCSA event before the pandemic. Two other places on the team are reserved for a captain’s pick and a pick by event sponsor, Syngenta.

“Hopefully, we’ll have details soon on how the rest of the year will play out,” Carolinas GCSA executive director, Tim Kreger, says. “There are always a lot of moving parts behind the scenes and that can take some time to sort through.”

Congaree Tour Stop Wraps Up Busy Two Months in Carolinas

When Congaree hosts the one-off Palmetto Championship for the PGA Tour next week, it will wrap up perhaps the busiest period of big-time golf in the history of the Carolinas. By then, the Carolinas will have hosted four tournaments, including the PGA Championship, for the best players in the world in just eight weeks.

The golf world spotlight first turned on The Heritage Classic at Harbour Town Golf Links in Hilton Head, SC in mid-April, where Jonathan Wright and his team once again presented outstanding conditions. Early May, Keith Wood and his staff once again hosted the Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow in Charlotte, NC.

Then, two weeks later, it was the turn of Jeff Stone and company at Kiawah Island Resort to present the playing field for Phil Mickelson to become the oldest man to ever win a major with the PGA Championship on the Ocean Course. Tour star Tony Finau echoed a common sentiment when he said: “I don’t know if we’ve putted on greens as good as they are this week at the Ocean Course here at Kiawah Island.”

The collective effort moved Carolinas GCSA president Brian Stiehler, CGCS, MG from Highlands Country Club in Highlands, NC to say: “There is no question that the Carolinas are home to some of the greatest golf courses in the United States. Along with that, the Carolinas are also home to some of the most talented superintendents in the U.S.”

At Congaree in Ridgeland, SC, the focus falls on the work of director of agronomy, John Lavelle, and superintendent, David Barrett. The PGA Tour showcasing of Carolinas golf and golf course superintendents in 2021 won’t end there. In August, Chad Cromer welcomes the Tour back to Sedgefield Country Club for the Wyndham Championship.

Scholarship Winner Comes a Long Way

Parker Shoun’s application for a Bennett-Maples Scholarship this year marked another milepost in a remarkable story that the golf course maintenance industry has helped to write. Shoun was one of a record 24 students who received scholarships of $1,000 from the Carolinas GCSA this year. Shoun, now 19 and the son of Michael Shoun, director of agronomy for McConnell Golf, heads to Barton College in Wilson, NC this fall to study sports management and play lacrosse.

But there was a time when his future was less certain. Shoun was born deaf and needed expensive cochlear implant surgery if he was to hear and learn to speak. Through the efforts of the Triangle Turfgrass Association, the Carolinas GCSA and a tractor donation from Revels Turf and Tractor, industry members raised more than $56,000 to help make the procedure possible.

As Shoun wrote in his essay as part of his scholarship application: “Sometimes job security for a golf course superintendent can be shaky. I was a two-year-old deaf boy that needed a cochlear implant, and we did not have a way to pay for it…Getting that first cochlear implant at age two was the most impactful thing of my life. It allowed me to learn how to listen and talk. It affects every part of my life today.

“Thank you to those of you who organized the tractor raffle and bought a ticket back in 2004 so that I could be able to hear. I will always be grateful to you. I will carry what my dad’s profession has given me (literally) on my ears, but also in my heart for the rest of my life.”

This year’s 24 scholarship winners - other names will be announced soon - were chosen from 31 applicants. Four more scholarships were possible this year thanks to a donation of $2,000 from life-member Palmer Maples Jr., CGCS and others from E-Z-Go and FMC.