A downed tree on No. 6 green at Charlotte CC (Photo courtesy Charlotte CC)
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (Sept. 21, 2018) – The weather has not been kind, of late, to USGA championship venues. Hurricane Irma caused the relocation of the 2017 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur last fall and a tropical depression wreaked havoc on Shoal Creek Golf Club this spring during U.S. Women’s Open week.
When you take a step back from that, however, you arrive at John Szklinski’s state of mind. Szklinski is the superintendent at Charlotte Country Club, host site of next week’s U.S. Mid-Amateur. Hurricane Florence mostly spared his facility, even as it upended other parts of the state, particularly coastal regions.
Charlotte Country Club incurred so little damage that the championship will go on as planned, beginning Saturday with stroke-play qualifying.
“We’re hosting the national championship, and we’re fortunate to do that,” Szklinski said as a matter of perspective. “And we’re very fortunate that a golf course is our biggest concern.”
Szklinski and his grounds crew of 29 began preparations for the impending storm a week ago. That involved making sure all surface drainage areas were open and receptive.
“There was a lot of heart palpitations and sweating on Saturday and Sunday,” Szklinski said as he and his crew watched the storm develop. Charlotte Country Club received and inch and a half of rain on Thursday Sept. 13, before Florence even moved in. Then another 7.7 inches of rain fell to bring the total to over nine inches.
Briar Creek is the only major stream that runs through the property, and the creek only flowed over its banks on the periphery of the course, where the agronomy center is located. Flooding wasn’t an issue at Charlotte Country Club, but it was down the road, where Briar Creek washed out the fifth green of Carmel Country Club’s North Course.
As for debris, Szklinski reports that only two trees were really lost. That resulted in a need for sod work on the fairway and rough at No. 9, and a small amount of sod replacement on No. 6 green.
Stroke-play qualifying will also take place at Carolina Golf Club, a nearby Donald Ross design. Superintendent Matthew Wharton reported a similarly manageable impact. Only one tree came down and no water flowed over the banks of a small stream that enters at the northwest corner of the property. Wharton points to conditions left from a dry summer. The club’s irrigation reservoir was 5 feet below capacity before the storm hit. By Sunday evening, it was completely full.
Wharton’s crews put in a long day of work early last week – everything from mowing to applying growth regulators – then watched the forecast change. Initially, only 2-4 inches of rain was expected for the area, but that quickly grew to 8-12 inches. Regardless, Carolina Golf Club was ready.
“Most of our storm debris was all the little small stuff and it was pretty much littered all across the golf course,” Wharton said. “We spent pretty much the whole day Monday cleaning up storm debris. By Tuesday, we were able to resume mowing so we spent the last two days getting the golf course whipped back into shape.”
Thanks to Szklinski, Wharton and company, the championship will go on as planned.
ABOUT THE U.S. Mid-Amateur
The U.S. Mid-Amateur originated in 1981 for the
amateur golfer of at least 25 years of age, the
purpose of which to provide a formal national
championship for the post-college player. 264
begin the championship with two rounds of sroke
qualifying held at two courses, after which the low
(with a playoff if necessary to get the exact number)
advance to single elimination match play.
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