Award Winners' Roots
Stretch to the Very Start
The presentation of this year's Carolinas GCSA Distinguished Service Award will mark a significant anniversary and put in place yet another milestone on an unbroken road of service that stretches back to the origins of the association itself. Wayne Smith Jr. and Steve Smith of Smith Turf and Irrigation will receive the association's highest honor at a special ceremony during Conference and Show in Myrtle Beach, SC in November.
They will do so in this, the 25th anniversary year since their father Wayne Smith, Sr. received the same award in 1994. He and his father, E. J. Smith, were key figures in the formation of the Carolinas GCSA in 1954. Indeed, Wayne Smith, Sr. can be seen crouching in the front line of a group photo of 45 attendees at the association's very first meeting at Myers Park Country Club in Charlotte, NC.
Through the company E. J. Smith founded in 1925 – as one of the country's first golf course equipment distributorships – the Smith family provided important corporate support for the fledgling association. In 1966, along with Porter Brothers, E. J. Smith and Sons were the first exhibitors to display equipment at what is now known as Conference and Show, the largest regional event for superintendents in the nation. ExtendedStoryStart_Placeholder
As Carolinas GCSA president Matthew Wharton, CGCS, MG said in announcing this year's award winners, Smith Turf and Irrigation chairman Wayne, Jr. and chief executive officer Steve Smith have not only continued the company's "unwavering commitment" to superintendents "they've grown it to a level of unmatched excellence."
The Smiths learned of the honor with a surprise announcement at the company's headquarters in Charlotte. They thought they were giving a tour of the facility as part of an informal annual discussion with Carolinas GCSA leaders. Instead, they stepped into the warehouse to find every employee gathered in waiting. See the video. ExtendedStoryStop_Placeholder
Pat O'Brien Prepares to
Retire After 40 Years
Let it be known that, as of September 30, Patrick O'Brien will be available to play even more golf. O'Brien, the veteran of 40 years with the USGA Green Section, is hanging up his note pad and taking retirement. "Here we are, at the end of the road," O'Brien says. "It's been quite a journey but I'm excited to have a lot more free time to play my favorite game."
O'Brien's departure from the agronomic front lines across the region is one of the most significant, perhaps, in the history of the Carolinas GCSA. There are few whose relationship with the association stretches back so far or has touched so many individuals. O'Brien estimates he has covered an average of 40,000 miles a year on course visits, attending meetings, speaking and assisting with championships.
He was honored with the Carolinas GCSA Distinguished Service Award in 2009. At the time, another DSA winner, the Carolinas GCSA past-president and now Carolinas Golf Association agronomist, Bill Anderson, CGCS paid tribute to O'Brien and his service as a champion of golf course superintendents in general, particularly in the Carolinas. ExtendedStoryStart_Placeholder
"He has had a tremendous influence on the view that many of the best golf courses and maintenance programs are in the Southeast," Anderson said then. "He is an amazing individual and always, always supportive of the golf course superintendent. He must go into some places where the superintendent is not doing it quite right and Pat's got to get him turned around. It can be easy for a consultant to come in and point out what's wrong and basically annihilate someone. But Pat never leaves anyone hanging out to dry. He's a strong advocate of superintendents. His credibility is unshakeable."
It won't be just O'Brien's agronomic knowledge that will be missed. In keeping with his Irish ancestry, he is equally well known for his humor. His annual year-end reviews wrapping up Conference and Show have featured some of the funniest lines in show history. "I'll still be around," he says. "And I'll still have my clubs with me, so hopefully some of the superintendents I've gotten to know over the years will be able to play a game of golf with me." ExtendedStoryStop_Placeholder
Jeffreys' Long Week Will
Seem Shorter This Time
When Pinehurst Resort hosted the U.S. Amateur in 2008, John Jeffreys, the assistant on the No. 2 course at the time, remembers thinking: "My first thought was, this is a long tournament!" Then as a senior member of the agronomy team in 2014, Jeffreys worked the historic back-to-back U.S. Open and U.S. Women's Open Championships: "And man, there's nothing longer than that!"
So now as a result, and as superintendent on No. 2, Jeffreys is pretty cool, calm and collected about hosting this year's U.S. Amateur along with Allen Owen on the recently renovated No. 4 course starting August 12. "It's all good, really," he says. "We were due for a good summer and I think we've had one so far. Our biggest concern between now and the end of the championship is big storms and the damage heavy rainfall can do. I'd be pretty happy if we didn't have another drop in the meantime."
With two weeks left before the championship, Jeffreys and Owen are fine-tuning, selectively thinning unwanted brush out of the native areas introduced to such fanfare on No. 2 in 2014 and installed by Gil Hanse on No. 4 last year. Unlike the back-to-back Opens, Pinehurst won't be inundated with volunteers for the U.S. Amateur. Neighboring Pine Needles and Mid Pines will "lend" some staff support just as Pinehurst did when Pine Needles hosted the U.S. Senior Women's Open in May. ExtendedStoryStart_Placeholder
Jeffreys and Owen will make their own piece of history when, for the first time in the history of the event, the 36-hole final will be played over two courses, with 18 holes on No. 4 in the morning and 18 on No. 2 in the afternoon. "It's a long week because you're in tournament condition for practice on the Saturday and Sunday, then the stroke play qualifying on Monday and Tuesday and then match play from Wednesday through Sunday," Jeffreys says. "The amazing thing is that you're doing everything you would to get the course ready for a U.S. Open but on the last day you only have two players out there." ExtendedStoryStop_Placeholder
Hemp Opens Door
On Virlina Team
Some smart people believe there is a world of opportunity when it comes to hemp farming, but Terry English never suspected he would be a beneficiary. English is squarely committed to his future in golf course maintenance and is currently assistant superintendent at Kiawah Island Resort's Oak Point course. Recently, he secured an unexpected "promotion" onto the Carolinas GCSA's Virlina Cup team – thanks to hemp farming.
English, who finished second in a qualifier at Orangeburg Country Club in Orangeburg, SC was elevated to the team when another qualifier, Jeff Burgess, later accepted a role as grow manager at a new hemp operation near Lexington, SC. Burgess, assistant superintendent at The Cliffs at Mountain Park in Travelers Rest, SC takes up his new position at the end of this month. ExtendedStoryStart_Placeholder
"It's funny, I tried for the last three or four years to get on the Virlina Cup team and now I finally make it and I can't go," says Burgess, who joined the Carolinas GCSA in 2010. "But this opportunity presented itself and I was intrigued by the idea of getting in on an industry in its infancy. I guess there's some risk to it but that's often the case in the early stages of anything. it's also when the growth potential is greatest."
The 100-acre hemp farm is part of a larger operation which includes 2,400 acres of peaches and organic vegetables, so Burgess expects to be working with more than hemp.
For English, the late change means he makes his Virlina Cup debut alongside other first-timers, Dustin Nemenz from Dolphin Head Golf Club in Hilton Head, SC; Dylan Jordan, Dormie Club, West End, NC; and sponsor's pick Eric Downs from Carmel Country Club in Charlotte, NC.
Captain's pick Bradley Pope from Prestonwood Country Club in Cary, NC returns to the team as does Barry Graham, CGCS Wildcat Cliffs Country Club, Highlands, NC; Ryan Hull, Methodist University Golf Course, Fayetteville, NC; and Charles Sheffield, North Ridge Country Club, Raleigh, NC. This year's competition against the Virginia GCSA, presented in partnership with Syngenta, is at Dormie Club in West End, NC on October 28 and 29. ExtendedStoryStop_Placeholder
Getting Glassy-Eyed Will
Make for Awesome View
Carolinas GCSA members have the chance to "elevate" their game at this year's fall mountain meeting at The Cliffs at Glassy, a Tom Jackson-design overlooking Landrum in Upstate South Carolina. At more than 3,000 above sea level, the golf course with bentgrass tees, fairways and greens, promises cooler temperatures and guarantees one a spectacular view from the signature 13th hole. The meeting will feature a reception on the evening of October 20 followed by breakfast, speakers and golf the following day. ExtendedStoryStart_Placeholder
Members will get to meet two newer members of Clemson University's scientific team. Dr. Joseph Roberts fills the position that came open when Dr. Bruce Martin retired last year. Roberts will serve in Clemson's College of Plant and Environmental Sciences as an assistant professor with extension and research responsibilities at the Pee Dee Research and Education Center in Florence, SC.
Dr. David Coyle joined Clemson late last year as assistant professor of forest health and invasive species. Coyle's expertise includes entomology, pathology, silviculture, tree physiology and management. Before arriving at Clemson, he created and directed the Southern Forest Health and Invasive Species program, which provided education and training to forestry professionals across the southeastern U.S.
The golf course at The Cliffs at Glassy is maintained by superintendent Tim Ale and is part of the seven-course Cliffs Communities operation, where Jim Evans serves as director of agronomy, and as superintendent of The Cliffs at Keowee Falls. The Cliffs recently came under new ownership. South Street Partners, a private equity real estate investment firm headquartered in Charlotte, NC and Charleston, SC bought The Cliffs in May. The firm previously acquired Kiawah Partners, including the Kiawah Island Club which is home to the River and Cassique courses. ExtendedStoryStop_Placeholder