Tropical Storm Florence Spares U.S. Mid-Am Courses in Charlotte
September 19, 2018
By David Shefter, USGA
Like many residents of the Carolinas, John Szklinski anxiously watched as Hurricane Florence made landfall late last week. The longtime superintendent of Charlotte Country Club, the host site for the 38th U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship, had every reason to be concerned a week ahead of the competition.
Fortunately, Charlotte Country Club and stroke-play co-host Carolina Golf Club were mostly spared from the nearly 8 inches of rain that fell over a two-day period. Two trees came down at Charlotte C.C., one of which landed on the sixth green, but remarkably didn’t affect the putting surface. The course’s two creeks never overflowed and its bunkers did not wash out, bringing smiles to the maintenance staff, because as Szklinski noted, “Nobody likes shoveling wet sand.”
“We were very fortunate,” said Szklinski. “When a creek overflows its banks, you can have a real mess.”
The club’s 29 full-time staffers spent two days clearing the two fallen trees, branches and other debris from the course. By Wednesday, the course was ready for the 264 competitors – the USGA’s second-largest championship in terms of field size – to start their practice rounds on Thursday. Because it has fewer trees, there was less debris to clean up at Carolina Golf Club.
“The beauty is the rain didn’t come down all at once,” said Szklinski, who has been at Charlotte Country Club for 11 years. “It was over a two-, two-and-a-half-day period. That’s not really all that bad.”
Added Bill McCarthy, the USGA’s director of the U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship: “John and [Carolina Golf Club superintendent] Matthew [Wharton], along with their teams, did an incredible job recovering from Florence. This was no surprise as they are the best in the business.”
Thanks to that cleanup effort, the stage is now set for a world-class field of amateurs age 25 and older to begin their quest for the Robert T. Jones Jr. Memorial Trophy. Following two rounds of stroke play this weekend (one on each course), the low 64 scorers advance to match play, starting on Monday. FS1 will have live coverage of the semifinals and 36-hole final match on Wednesday, Sept. 26 and Thursday, Sept. 27 from 4-6 p.m. EDT. Fans are encouraged to come out and watch the action.
David Shefter is a senior staff writer for the USGA. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.