© Top: Jeremy pyles Right: guy cipriano

The fourth hole at Myers Park Country Club tumbles southward and epitomizes what members relish about one of Charlotte’s venerable golf and social scenes.

Measuring 332 yards from the middle tees within the parameters of an ample playing corridor, the hole provides a joyous pathway to par — or, perhaps, birdie. The green peacefully rests beneath a row of trees separating the course from spacious, well-kept homes in a high-demand ZIP Code. “For a lot of our members,” director of golf course operations Scott Kennon says he walks toward the green on an early July morning, “this is their favorite hole.”

Greenspaces like Myers Park, a 100-year-old club consuming 160 acres, represent anomalies near the epicenter of growing cities like Charlotte. That fourth hole is just four miles from the Bank of America Corporate Center, the highest structure in the 912,096-resident city.

© Top: Jeremy pyles Right: guy cipriano

Myers Park resembles the city in many ways. It keeps growing and adapting. Take the fourth hole, for example. Rolling topography leads to the green complex, creating a bowl effect where steam and shade intersect. A combination of savvy, science and technology cultivating adaptable work and growing environments helps the hole thrive despite conditions more difficult to predict than lottery numbers.

“Weather is crazy here in Charlotte,” says superintendent Jeremy Pyles, a North Carolina native in his ninth year on Kennon’s team. “This year it wasn’t until April that the grass really got going, whereas last year we started greening up late February, early March.”

Myers Park possesses microclimates within microclimates, according to Kennon, who has held the top turf job since 2007. “No. 4 is one of the hottest places in the planet in my opinion,” he adds. “It’s like the Amazon down there in the summer. Conversely, in the winter, it’s like a Popsicle. It stays frozen forever. We have to manage that different than the rest. It’s a beautiful golf hole.”

Talent and tools are required to produced repeatable beauty and playability despite extreme weather variances. Like any century-old club, Myers Park has been touched by multiple architects and agronomists, each with a different vision and perspective than his predecessors. The original layout included sand greens. The current layout includes TifEagle Bermudagrass greens, which were installed as part of a 2017 renovation. Longtime members can recall putting on contrasting turf species as Myers Park supported common Bermudagrass and then bentgrass greens before resorting to an ultradwarf Bermudagrass variety.

Scott Kennon, Bobby Sabour, Jeremy Pyles and John Wells lead the turf management team at Myers Park Country Club.

The golf course at Myers Park is closed during the July week Kennon performs a show-and-tell of the property his team maintains. Tasks are designed and executed to ensure turf and features meet lofty expectations the 51 weeks members play the course. For Kennon, Pyles and assistants Bobby Sabour and John Wells, greens are the primary focus of the maintenance week, with aerifiers pulling cores at heights of 5/8th and ¼th of an inch, respectively. Frequency of major aerification has dwindled from three separate times each year to just twice in one week since the conversion to TifEagle.

Fewer interruptions present more opportunities to finesse greens. When growing season weather cooperates, the TifEagle greens are cut twice and rolled Wednesday through Sunday, producing what Kennon calls “faster and firmer conditions” than what could be reasonably achieved in most heavy play months when they maintained bentgrass.

Incorporating new mower technology into daily assignments has made a quiet and quantifiable difference in greens maintenance. Myers Park acquired a pair of Toro Greensmaster eTriFlex 3360 riding greens mowers to begin an entry into electric technology. The mowers feature all-electric components for traction, steering and cutting. The mower eliminates the need for hydraulic fluid. The electric elements of the eTriFlex reduce noise to 73 dBa, a key selling point for a club where homes surround multiple holes.

“It’s quiet, it’s comfortable and the fear of leak points and fluids getting on the green are gone,” Kennon says. “It still has all the great features with frequency of cut adjustments and all the various options for bedknives and blade counts. Cutting quality is equivalent to a walk mower.”

Kennon’s first golf course maintenance job involved walk mowing greens at Landfall Club in the early 1990s and he had developed an emotional attachment to the practice. But a convergence of factors resulted in the deployment of triplex mowers on Myers Park’s greens: the durability of ultradwarf Bermudagrass, labor realities and improved mower technology. The greens at Myers Park are 150,000 total square feet. Double cutting the surfaces with two eTriFlex mowers takes three hours. Five walk mowers are required to complete the same task in a comparable amount of time. Myers Park still has a fleet of Greensmaster walking mowers, but Kennon says the “majority” of greens mowing, especially Friday through Sunday when labor is less available, is completed via the eTriFlex.

“I know there were quite a few folks who triplexed because they had to and I get that,” Kennon says. “It’s just not something that I thought I would have done. It took me even a couple of years of seeing it until I believed it was a good way to go about doing things. You can repurpose your labor to do other things and accomplish so much more in a day because you have extra staff to go do detail work and take care of some other jobs. You can’t argue that point.”

Toro introduced the eTriFlex in 2019, so it’s still considered a relatively new technology by golf course maintenance standards. Representatives from Toro’s corporate headquarters and Charlotte-based distributor Smith Turf & Irrigation introduced the mower to Kennon and other Myers Park officials by conducting a demonstration on the course’s terrain. “That kind of sold it right there,” Kennon says.

The Myers Park team blends modern practices such as using Toro Turf Guard wireless sensors to help make irrigation decisions with tactics such as human observations similar to ones used in 1921 to condition 100 acres of maintained turf. Next steps in the club’s maintenance evolution will likely include the adoption of GPS-guided spraying technology and the integration of more electric equipment. “For us, it’s a no-brainer bringing in equipment and machinery that reduces noise pollution and allows us to be better neighbors and still do a great job on the golf course,” Kennon says.

Modernizing Myers Park represents a relentless pursuit. The course has been enhanced multiple times in Kennon’s 14 years at the club, with projects ranging from adding warm- and cool-season native areas to promote contrasting hues on boundaries to finding the best turf species for handling shade and traffic atop tees. Kennon and his team have maintained three turf species — Bermudagrass, bentgrass and zoysiagrass — on various surfaces during their Myers Park tenures.

Donald Ross and A.W. Tillinghast both worked on the club’s land and Myers Park was the site of a two-day, 36-hole Charlotte Open playoff involving Byron Nelson and Sam Snead. The triumph marked victory No. 2 in Nelson’s famed streak of 11 straight PGA Tour titles in 1945.

Being part of something that has lasted 100 years sometimes evokes reminders of the past. A metal horseshoe likely from an animal used for early course construction was found while renovating the 12th green in 2017. The horseshoe occupies a top shelf in the turf offices. “I’m into history and some of the stuff here blows my mind,” Pyles says. “That’s really neat to see that type of stuff while working on an old course like this.”

Clubs don’t last 100 years without evolving all parts of their operations. The past, present and future coalesce when Kennon stares down the 17th fairway. The par 5 features a downhill approach shot to a green fronted by Briar Creek, which intersects multiple prominent Charlotte-area clubs. The city’s sparkling skyline appears when members and workers crest the hill. The view is especially tranquil on tame weather evenings. So much to see. So much to still do.

“I constantly want to be doing something new,” Kennon says. “I don’t ever think we have achieved that paramount of excellence. There’s always something that we can do better — and that’s OK. The team knows that, too. We are hitting on 90 percent most of the time, but it’s that 10 percent that we strive for. When we think we have gotten there, there will be another 10 percent. It’s hard to get to.”