Matthew Wharton from Carolina Golf Club in Charlotte, N.C., is new president of the roughly 1,800-member Carolinas Golf Course Superintendents Association. Wharton, 50, is one of only a handful of people in the world who is both a certified golf course superintendent from the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America and a master greenkeeper from the British and International Golf Greenkeepers Association.
Wharton leads the Carolinas GCSA towards 2019 following a highly successful Conference and Trade Show in Myrtle Beach, S.C. Earlier in the year, he was superintendent host for the U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship, which Carolina Golf Club shared with Charlotte Country Club. He has been at Carolina Golf Club since 2005.
Wharton was elected at the association’s annual business meeting on the final day of the three-day event in Myrtle Beach, which set a new post-recession high in terms of the trade show. A total of 413 booths were occupied by more than 200 different companies, bettering the mark of 407 booths in 2008.
“Once again our numbers were strong across the board,” executive director Tim Kreger said. “We had just a shade under 2,000 people attend, filled nearly 1,300 seats in education seminars, capped our golf championship field at 325 and had another 50 compete in the sporting clays. Honestly, we couldn’t be happier from a business perspective but even more importantly, I feel like everyone who took part was happy too.”
Kreger said that while education and doing business on the trade show floor remain the chief concerns for attendees, the chance to simply get together with peers was perhaps just as important this year.
“You could see it in people’s faces and hear it in their conversations. A lot of them needed this event to recharge after what was a tough, tough year agronomically,” he said. “We had everything from devastating winter kill, record rains in some areas, wild swings in temperatures and a couple of hurricanes to cap it all off.”
Wharton added, “The show came at just the right time as everyone, fatigued from one of the more grueling seasons to remember, was ready to catch their breath. I believe last year will live in our memories for many years to come.”
The success of the Carolinas GCSA Conference and Trade Show continues to defy nationwide trends which have seen regional events of its kind shrink and, in some cases, disappear.
“At its core, I think the success of our show hinges on mutual respect,” Kreger said. “Our superintendents truly appreciate the investment made by our exhibitors and industry partners. We had 945 people walk in to see the trade show on Tuesday evening alone. That’s after sitting in seminars all day. I think that says a lot about how much our members value what vendors bring.”
In other news from the Carolinas GCSA Conference and Trade Show:
--Dr. Bert McCarty from Clemson University received the association’s highest honor, the Distinguished Service Award. McCarty was later guest of honor at a special dinner presented in partnership with J. K. Morro and Sunbelt Rentals;
--Barry Graham from Wildcat Cliffs Country Club in Highlands, N.C., won the Carolinas GCSA golf championship presented in partnership with Smith Turf and Irrigation. On a wet day, Graham returned a four over par round of 76 at The Reserve Golf Club at Pawleys Island;
--Keith Noxon from Pine Valley Country Club in Wilmington, N.C., won $3,000 as the grand prize winner in the 27-Hole Challenge presented in partnership with John Deere Golf, Revels Turf and Tractor and Greenville Turf and Tractor;
--Clemson University won the annual Student Turf Bowl competition presented in partnership with Precision Laboratories;
--Peter Gerdon from Grandfather Golf and Country Club in Linville, N.C., was elected to the board of directors;
--Director Brian Hollingsworth, CGCS from Dataw Island Club on Saint Helena Island delivered an inspiring talk at the annual fellowship breakfast presented in partnership with Corbin Turf and Ornamental Supply and New Life Turf;
--Outgoing past-president Adam Charles from The Preserve at Verdae in Greenville, S.C., won the sporting clay championship presented in partnership with Bayer and Carolina Fresh Farms;
--Members also observed a moment of silence in memory of members who died during the year including early association secretary Dr. Paul Alexander, past-president Steve Wright, CGCS, past winner of the golf championship Leonard “Bucky” Hill and David Watts.