Recharge and reboot will be underlying themes at the Carolinas GCSA Conference and Trade Show in Myrtle Beach, S.C., Nov. 12-14. There is never truly an average weather year across the two states but 2018 has been particularly challenging for golf course superintendents.
“Mother Nature certainly threw some curve balls,” the association’s executive director Tim Kreger said. “We’ve had big temperature swings at odd times, record rainfall in the mountains, winterkill over a wide region, and then two hurricanes. I think a lot of superintendents are ready to recharge and reboot amongst colleagues and friends.”
Kreger praised the efforts of superintendents across clubs and courses large and small. In Greensboro, N.C., for example, Chad Cromer’s team at Sedgefield Country Club effectively saved the PGA Tour’s Wyndham Championship by hand-planting more than 135,000 2-inch turf plugs into greens devastated by winterkill. More than 2,000 man-hours went into that first stage of what was an intensive turf recovery project against the clock.
“That kind of dedication played out across the region,” Kreger said. “There was heavy winterkill in Myrtle Beach too, hurricane devastation in Wilmington, N.C., flooding in many areas, and on and on. It was just a really tough year, and facilities of all budget levels were affected. I hope golfers understand and appreciate the efforts of their superintendents because many of them went way above and beyond.”
The three-day Conference and Show, the largest regional gathering of superintendents in the country, already shapes as another highly successful event. Several days before showtime, the association has already matched or bettered numbers from last year in several key categories.
One of the most encouraging is the number of exhibit booths sold on the trade show floor. More than 200 companies will occupy at least 413 booth spaces, the most since the Great Recession. Gross revenues are also ahead of the same time last year. To ensure adequate pace of play, the association capped entries for its annual championship – across three courses – at 325, selling out more than a week ago.
“Our members and many of our friends from neighboring regions have once again set the stage for a successful Conference and Show,” Kreger said. “We are grateful to them and of course to all those companies that invest their time and money to support us and do so much for the overall health and well-being of the industry in the Carolinas, not just superintendents.”
In addition to exhibit space, another 33 companies – four more than in 2017 – are supporting the event will special sponsorships, providing everything from free parking for attendees to an end-of-show drawing with more than $12,000 in prizes.
The golf championship Monday will be followed by education and trade show on Tuesday and Wednesday. On Wednesday, the association will also elect the 2019 officers and directors at the annual business meeting. Matthew Wharton, CGCS, MG from Carolina Golf Club in Charlotte, N.C., is slated to become the new president.
The association will also present its highest honor, the Distinguished Service Award, to Clemson University turfgrass expert Dr. Bert McCarty. On a somber note, association will also honor the memory of several members who died during the year including early secretary, Dr. Paul Alexander, who ran the first conference, and past-president, Steve Wright, CGCS, who died unexpectedly in Florida on Nov. 5.