FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, Wednesday, October 3, 2018
Press Contact: David Norman, North Carolina GCOA Executive Director
804-708-9760 / firstname.lastname@example.org
Schmid, Sedgefield CC, Bald Head Island Club Honored
2018 North Carolina Golf Course Owners Assn Awards
Southern Pines, NC - The 1st Annual North Carolina GCOA Awards were presented at the Association's annual meeting at Pine Needles Lodge on Wednesday, October 3rd. Former Carolinas PGA Executive Director Ron Schmid was honored with the North Carolina Golf Leader Award "in recognition of a leadership in the golf industry in North Carolina as evidenced by long-term service to the industry." Sedgefield Country Club in Greensboro received the Course of the Year Award, in recognition of "outstanding business success over the past year." Bald Head Island Club received the Sustainability Award in recognition of "the ability to incorporate sustainability and environmental stewardship into operating practices."
Mid-Atlantic Golf Leader Award
In recognition of in recognition of a leadership in the golf industry in North Carolina as evidenced by long-term service to the industry, Ron Schmid, PGA of Greensboro has been named the 2018 North Carolina Golf Leader. Schmid formerly served as Executive Director of the Carolinas PGA.
Ron was first elected to PGA membership in July 1975, while working at Duke University Golf Club - a place he called home for more than a decade. He served as the Women's Golf Coach, Head Golf Professional, and later, as the Executive Director of the school's athletic fundraising organization. He guided Duke to its first NCAA tournament appearance in 1983 and then to its first Women's Golf ACC Championship in 1984. He led Duke to six tournament wins in his time as coach. He was selected by the Collegiate Golf Coaches Association as the Regional Golf Coach of the Year in 1984. Coaching, recruiting, and teaching young golfers is one of the best ways to promote the game of golf and Ron did just that throughout his career.
It wasn't until 1999 that Ron began his life-changing, 16-year role as Executive Director of the Carolinas PGA Section - a position he assumed both at the Myrtle Beach, SC and Greensboro, NC offices. Ron was pivotal in the relocation of the Carolinas PGA Section Office to Greensboro and develop a beautiful, new headquarters at Bryan Park GC.
During his time at the Section, Ron not only made a commitment to the PGA's largest section but to many worthy organizations as well. This includes Play Golf America, Patriot Golf Day and the Folds of Honor Foundation, The First Tee, Adaptive Golf, and Drive, Chip and Putt - a program he still volunteers with at the Section level even after his retirement in 2015. While at the Section, Ron was also a member of several committees: Executive Director, Play Golf America, Scholarship, Communications, Awards and Honors, Hall of Fame, Finance, Education, Code of Ethics, and Sponsors.
Adding to these accolades are also supplemental awards and achievements that Ron has earned over the years including, The President's Council Award on Growing the Game from 2005-2007, leading the Carolinas PGA Section to win a National Herb Graffis Award in 2007, launching the Section's Merchandise Show, and on top of that, being a chief supporter for the Folds of Honor Foundation, of which he helped the Section to garner over $3 million in donations over nine years. Ron was inducted into the CPGA Hall of Fame in 2016.
Schmid remarked, "This really caught me off guard, having been out of the business for two and a half years." Ironically, Schmid was on the way to teach at the First Tee, when the call came in.
"I have always admired Ron for his leadership and dedication to the game, "said NC GCOA President Del Ratcliffe, PGA. "It's great to honor someone who really made a difference."
Course of the Year Award
Sedgefield Country Club has been named the 2018 "Course of the Year" by the North Carolina GCOA. This award was presented to Beverly Marler of McConnell Golf, in recognition of outstanding business success over the past year - in reality, it was a matter of achieving redemption.
Sedgefield CC gets annual exposure to millions of golfers nationwide during the Wyndham Championship, one of the PGA Tour's longest running events. This year, like many other courses in NC, extensive winterkill seriously damaged the golf course, with its all-bermuda grassing. Could they recover and showcase a beautiful course on TV? Yes they did, and it's an interesting story!
Sedgefield superintendent Chad Cromer explained the extreme winter weather conditions that ultimately threatened the viability of their PGA Tour event, as well as the ability to provide excellent playing conditions for the members. "The worst damage came in January, when we experienced single digit temperatures and sub-freezing conditions for nine days straight," he said. "It was a 100-year record, but we did not know the extent of the damage until March."
As spring approached, the stakeholders assembled for a meeting - the management, the owner, the staff and the PGA Tour. They needed a plan for long-term success for their Champion bermuda course. There was 20,000 square feet of damaged greens, yet only 2,700 square feet of a nursery - they considered all options.
Would sod be the answer? Cromer was reticent - he just wasn't certain the grass from a sod farm would be the perfect match. In addition, the timing was bad - the sod was not ready for harvesting. He also worried about sod seams, which he experienced when he was at Trump National Doral. He simply did now want to see scars.
So Cromer offered a novel idea to the stakeholders - a tedious process of sowing 2" plugs of Champion 2" apart - a mammoth effort indeed. It took roughly 135,000 plugs, 2,000 man hours and over 3.5 weeks to complete the project, as the weather started to warm in May. Cromer compared it to a "hair transplant." The end result was full turf coverage, no sod seams, no issues with grain growing the wrong way, and the integrity of the stand of Champion bermuda was not compromised.
Marler, who has a dual role as club GM and Triad Regional Director for McConnell, noted that initially there was some skepticism from a few club members, but they were generally supportive. And with it certainly helped that McConnell offers members reciprocal privileges among its 12 top private clubs, and the club's sister course ("Pete Dye") is only 15 minutes away. And Director of Golf Rocky Brooks, PGA and his staff went the extra mile to arrange member golf, including road trips with the professional staff. Opening Day on June 3rd was a big success. Marler and Brooks recall the amazement of club members at how much work and recovery had taken place in such a short time. The course continued to improve as August approached.
The end result was no scars and ultimately full coverage. When it came time for The Wyndham Championship, the PGA Tour communicated the project to the players, who were most appreciative. CBS announcer Dottie Pepper described the whole process to a national television audience. It was an amazing tale of redemption, with a lot at stake. Sedgefield showed beautifully during the broadcast.
The North Carolina GCOA's Sustainability Award recognizes the ability to incorporate sustainability and environmental stewardship into operating practices. Bald Head Island Club is the 2018 honoree.
In a barrier island location, Bald Head Island Club coexists with nature. The club focuses on preservation and is a member of the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary. Through the BHI Conservancy, the natural state of the island will continue to perpetuity. Now the club is dealing with the aftermath of the hurricane, with an eye toward sustainability.
BHIC superintendent Adam Bachmeier is the key man standing among a great team of club employees who pay close attention to environmental stewardship on a daily basis. He points out some of the very basics, such as using native grasses and vegetative practices as buffers around the course's natural lagoons. A renovation in 2009-10 specifically targeted these areas, and monitoring water is a high priority in his operation. They are able to use reclaimed and treated water from the Village Utility Department as irrigation water.
The club regained certification in the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program by installing a 24/7 web cam to for live observation of an osprey nest via an online link, carried by the Conservancy. The camera itself was solar powered, a totally self-sufficient system.
Bachmeier also made note of a new bulkhead landscape native area on hole #16, where they used sea oats and beach grasses, plus milkweed and wildflowers to form a pollinator bed, which attracts Monarch butterflies.
The whole club is committed to nature preservation, so if you hit your ball off beyond cart paths, you will not find easy going - instead you will face true nature - no pruned trees or branches, a native area for wildlife. Only sparingly might you see a pine straw area near a cart path. They maintain a minimalist mentality regarding cutting or pruning any vegetation on the island, which demonstrates BHIC's emphasis on preserving the natural forests on the island.
More recently the club has been focused on re-opening, following the flooding from the aftermath of Hurricane Florence. It was estimated that 44-48" of rain fell in a three-day period. And of course they were already on pace for their wettest year on record.
During the recovery, the club has remained steadfast to its commitment to sustainable practices and environmental stewardship. Bachmeier's team worked in cooperation with, and under the guidance of, The Village of Bald Head and the Public Safety Department, which act as the Emergency Operations Center (EOC). BHIC' s role was to help pump water towards outfalls the EOC had set up, using the irrigation system and mobile pumps they own. The Village of Bald Head Island worked with the state to permit discharging the water off island. Duke Energy has been a good partner in the process. It's a team effort of the club, commercial entities and state agencies to recover. Only recently have residents been given access to the island, to assess the effects on their property.
Bachmeier acknowledges the team effort of the staff, led by GM Robert Norton. He also cites his two assistants, Aaron Bazonski and Tyler Brown, as playing critical roles in the quest to regain normalcy. Solitude Lake Management company has also been a key contributor. But most important perhaps is the attitude of the members, who revel in the commitment to a natural environment.