Carolina on our mind

Carolina on our mind

I sometimes wonder if Mother Nature has a big carnival wheel that she spins to decide who’s going to get hammered by ridiculous weather next. She gives it a big pull on the wheel and round-and-round-and-round it goes before ticking past the Great Plains, narrowly missing the Mid-Atlantic and finally settling on… the Carolinas. Sorry boys, it was your turn this year. Massive winterkill for you!

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August 20, 2015
Pat Jones
Pat Jones
  Pat Jones
Editorial Director
and Publisher
 

I sometimes wonder if Mother Nature has a big carnival wheel that she spins to decide who’s going to get hammered by ridiculous weather next. She gives it a big pull on the wheel and round-and-round-and-round it goes before ticking past the Great Plains, narrowly missing the Mid-Atlantic and finally settling on… the Carolinas. Sorry boys, it was your turn this year. Massive winterkill for you!

Winter damage is excruciating because it seems to be so incredibly random. It varies from ZIP code to ZIP code, changes with snow cover (or lack thereof), moisture, ice, turf type, tarps/no tarps, construction methods and lord knows what else.

Our cover story digs in to what happened this year to way too many courses around North and South Carolina and elsewhere in the Southeast. Our good friend Kevin Smith is prominently featured not just because his Bryan Park course in Greensboro looked like someone called in a Round-Up airstrike on it. Kevin is also a thoughtful, wicked-smart human being. He also had just completed a conversion from bent to ultradwarf and was looking forward to an “easier” time with the new turf.

Instead, Mother Nature decided to bitch-slap him just to remind him not to try to fool with her. Despite the smackdown, Smith stood tall and acted. His agronomic response is detailed in the article, but he (and a bunch more supers like him) also jumped into crisis communications mode to make sure that Mother Nature didn’t win completely.

Smith and his colleagues also benefitted from the support of Pat O’Brien and Chris Hartwiger of the USGA Green Section who did a marvelous job of credibly documenting the problems and making it clear to golfers that this was an unavoidable situation. Former super turned Carolinas Golf Association agronomist Bill Anderson also ably spread the word to member facilities. Dr. Grady Miller and Dr. Fred Yelverton of N.C. State issued news releases and technical bulletins to explain the science behind the problem and offer help with fixes. Finally, there was tremendous information and support from the Carolinas GCSA who reached out to local media to tell the story.

The real story of this year’s winterkill in the South was ultimately less about the problem than the remarkable way the golf/turf community pulled together to lessen the impact and find solutions. It’s a tribute to the “family” down there, and proof that if we stick together, even Mother Nature can’t take us all down.