Friday, April 20, 2018

I spoke too soon last week about the temperature in the morning after we dropped below 20 degrees at the shed in the morning on Monday this week.  The rest of the week stayed warmer but we aren't far away from slowing right down.  One of the effects of the cooler temperatures is the slow recovery of divots which is particularly noticeable on some of the short doglegs on the River course.  It makes it more important to re-fill your divot with sand to give your fellow players a better chance at a reasonably playable lie.  Although I tend to agree with Tiger Woods that if you land on a sanded divot you should be able to get relief.
The forecast for the next week or so doesn't sound so good rainfall wise so we took the opportunity to get some fertiliser out on some of the weaker tees today.  Quite often a good way to scare the rain away.
And speaking of scaring,  I thought we had a bad duck problem until I saw this photo from a country course in Victoria.  In the USA they have major problems with Canadian Geese as well as ducks damaging greens and most of them have on course dogs to keep the birds off greens.

Good etiquette to stay off the green whilst players are putting!

Wednesday this week was a tough day to make the call on motorised buggies being on.  I heard the rain overnight and checked the airport for their rainfall total and they had 6mm which I thought was about right.  Upon arriving at the course I discovered we had received 27mm!!  The rain was still falling and the thunder and lightning still rumbling and the courses, in particular the West, were under water and hence the call was made which as I mentioned a few weeks ago it is the part of my job that I enjoy least.  It would be a pretty easy call to make at this course in the USA though!!

No chance of buggies on here!!

Friday, April 13, 2018

Soil and ambient temperatures are already starting to drop and this has a slowing effect on turfgrass growth.  We still haven’t dropped below 20ยบ at the shed in the mornings yet which is on par with the previous few years although the growth over the past month has been up following the huge amount of rain that we had received.  

Whilst talking of soil temperatures and weather, spare a thought for the northern States of the USA who are still receiving snowfalls.  The photo below is of Hazeltine GC in Minnesota this week with a lot of snow still on the ground with more forecast for this week end.  The ground is apparently still frozen 3 feet deep!!  At this stage the course won’t open until early May (normally open by now) and generally closes in early November so only a 6 month golfing season!!

April 12, 2018

A bad week for irrigation with a major blowout on 2W fairway and a repair required on the town water mainline to the clubhouse.  This is the third blowout we have had on 2W in a small area so will be looking at replacing a section of the mainline that has obviously been weakened over time.  The main to the clubhouse was losing a lot of water and this repair was done at first light on Friday morning to negate the effect on clubhouse operations.  Licensed plumbers were engaged for the works which is standard practice for us when dealing with potable water.

The reduction in growth is a bit of a sad time for the staff with the casual employees hours being reduced.  There have been anywhere up to 8 casuals employed on the courses over summer and they form a very important part of the crew and resultant course conditions.  My mantra is that “managing a golf course is about bums on seats – as the more you have the more you get done”.  And speaking of staff we are looking forward to welcoming Assistant Superintendent Simon back to work next Monday.  He broke his neck in a surfing accident on Christmas Eve and has been recuperating since.  He has been medically assessed and performed a fairly grueling “fit for work” test last week and is itching to get back to work.

And over the many years I have been managing golf courses I have seen a lot of strange things out on the golf course.  But this one may well be the strangest yet!!  There is a bucket hanging on a branch in a Melaleuca tree on 18R about 12 feet off the ground that could only have been put there deliberately.  It has been there for at least four months and I have been waiting to see if anything was going to happen with it which it hasn’t thus far.

Please explain?

Friday, April 6, 2018

Not much to report on this week although the mowers certainly got a run for their money this past four day week.  To be honest when I saw the courses on Monday night with the amount of grass out there I didn't think there would be any chance that the courses would look the way they do in the four days this cooler Friday afternoon.  Great credit to the course staff for their input this week to get the job done.

Speaking of mowers, one of the big expense lines in the course maintenance budget is fuel and I was doing my fuel figures for March this week and thought I would share some of them with followers of the Blog.  The majority of our machines use diesel fuel, particularly the mowing equipment with most smaller equipment using unleaded.  We also have 3 electric runabout utility vehicles and the greens rollers are all electric.  In March we used 3,478 litres of Diesel at an average cost of $1.32 adding up to a cost of $4,590 for the month.  The fairway mowers used 957L at a cost of $1,263, the rough mowers 1,178L at a cost of $1,554, the intermediate and greens surrounds mowers 566L at a cost of $747 and the greens mowers 218L at a cost of $288.  The bunker raking machines used 322L of unleaded at a cost of $432 for the month.  

Almost all the turf equipment supply companies have all tried alternative fuels, particularly battery powered and to date none have been overly successful in being able to operate at full speed for the time required.  A couple are now close and it will be interesting to watch developments in this area over the coming years.  They have mainly been waiting for the automotive industry to move one way or another so they can then follow suit.

It was interesting watching the Masters start and a couple of USA Course Supers commenting on the first days pin placement sheet saying that they place the flags on their own greens using the template which provides some very interesting placements on their courses!!  The sheet is below and would certainly make for some interesting locations on the undulating River greens here at Cool Tweed.  7 on and 6 from the right wouldn't be all that accessible on 15 River but at least you wouldn't get the result Sergio got!!  Although it was remarkable how cool he stayed with what was shown on the telecast considering his fiery history.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

The rain just doesn't seem to want to go away with constant showers hampering maintenance during a short week with a double long week end and another short week next week.  The grass is still growing very quickly and we got the whole property cut despite the rain and reduced hours which was a great effort.

In amongst the mowing we covered some tree root areas with some of the turf scraps from the recent turfing and then sanded over the top.  Most areas are well in the rough and as I have said before, although you are hitting off sand until the grass comes through it is way better than hitting off tree roots.  We also managed to get some fertiliser out on the tees and some more fairways to further strengthen them for the winter.
RHS 14R tree roots covered.

In some ways it seems longer ago but it is 12 months since the remnants of cyclone Debbie reeked havoc upon the local area and I don't really want to see that again for some time.  My thoughts are certainly with those in FNQ who copped it again this week.
1R last year

No thanks.
The US Masters starts next week and the cry will go out around the golfing world of why can't my course be like that??  Lots of reasons why with the main one being the resources available to them.  I was speaking to a young intern in the USA recently and he had worked there one year with his main summer job being erecting tents on the greens to keep the sun off!!  It isn't the most expensive golf club to join in the States but it is the most difficult.  They don't have a lot of play either and the course is worked on pretty hard once the tournament is gone to make alterations and improvements.  The photo below was taken in the heat of summer and you can just make out the covers that they use on the bunkers to save the sand from being contaminated.
It doesn't always look perfect!

More people mowing fairways than I have on my crew!!

Friday, March 23, 2018

A wet end to the week with another 30mm falling overnight on Thursday.  As mentioned last week the localised water table is practically "full" and the water is taking a long time to drain away.  NSW is an amazingly contrasting State when you look at the tragic bushfires at Tathra, floods on the central coast and near flood conditions up here.

A fairly normal week on the courses with just a couple of irrigation problems to keep us on our toes starting with a 100mm main requiring repair in the middle of 9W fairway right in the middle of the members comp day on Monday.  Thanks for your patience while we carried out repairs.  We have also been carrying out the rather huge task of spraying weeds around the tree bases on the River course which given the number of trees takes some time.  A bit more fertiliser for greens on both courses as we start getting them ready for winter which will appear on the scene in no time.

I have mentioned the growth regulator that we use a few times and one place we use it is on the bunker edges over summer to try and reduce the amount of edging required.  The photo below is of a bunker on 17W and the effect is nothing short of dramatic but for some reason we can't seem to get that effect on all the bunkers.  The fairways, greens and tees always provide more consistent results.

Great effect on growth on the lip of the bunker.

And whilst on bunkers it was interesting to watch Tiger at last weeks PGA event when he had two very buried lies on a course that would have a very large budget and crew to maintain them.  It was also interesting to get a shot of just how much sand gets moved in the playing of a bunker shot and demonstrates how bunkers evolve and change over time and for the need to be constantly re-arranging the sand in the base and face of the bunker.

Is that a sand wedge or a shovel!!

And another unraked bunker last week but I won't be fronting the culprit after a snake took a short cut through the fairway bunker on 5R last Friday!! 
Be my guest!!

Friday, March 16, 2018

Well the rain seems to have stopped for the moment after 18½ inches since January 28!!  The water table is just about as high as it can get and not dropping which is a little unusual.   With this amount of heat, humidity and moisture I am certainly glad that there were no Bentgrass greens to cope with it as I doubt they would have survived it.   
It is amazing just how well the course takes the water though and I remember Doug Robinson and Jeff Gambin (both former CTHGC Supers) coming to visit me when I was at Victoria back in the 1980's and they were telling me about the massive drainage project they were undertaking at CTHGC using 900mm pipe in sections.  Considering I barely had any drainage piping installed at Victoria I thought they were crazy but thank heavens they did as it is still just as effective today.  That's the system that runs from the dam on 11W across 3W, 4R, 5R and 6R to the dam on the RHS of 6R green before it leaves the property.  Probably a third of the course is drained through this system which on basically flat land is quite an achievement.  That's a shot of 6R dam below before being enlarged as part of those works.
6R dam
The heat and moisture has certainly got the grass growing so a mixture of some growth regulator and herbicide was applied to all the fairways this week.  There is a little bit of dis-colouration from the herbicide on a few areas but nothing to worry about.  The West greens also got a granular fertliser applied to them this week and the rain was actually quite handy in helping to water it in.  This is the first time I have used a granular on them since planting and was one of the ideas bought back from the recent trip to the USA.   The photo below shows the size of each granule which is quite small and has no effect on ball roll once it moves into the turf canopy.
Granular fertiliser.
The turf arrives on Monday for the remaining West course areas after having to cancel it last week due to the wet conditions. 
And some more shots for the "really??" file from this week.  The weirdest of them all was 12R tee where a wedge must have been used to make that much mess which was right in the middle of the men's back tee.  The divots on 5R were replicated on a couple of other fairways and thanks to the ladies who sanded them on Tuesday as they were originally just left untouched and I guess taking two swipes to get out of the bunker on 3W would leave you a little tired for raking duties!!

5R fairway.

12R tee? At least they tried to sand them!

3W bunker

Friday, March 9, 2018

Just another 90mm in the rain gauge for the week but we were still able to get a lot done.  Most importantly we were able to pretty much keep up with the mowing which was quite a feat given the soggy conditions but come Friday afternoon and you would hardly know it had rained.  It would have come as a surprise to some of the Friday morning players when they saw us hand watering greens!  The West greens had been sanded the day before and rubbed in but there was still some sand on the surface so the best way to settle it in to the turf canopy is to water it in.

Watering on 16W.

We were also able to get the planned earthworks done adjacent to the temporary greens on the West course and an extension to the blue tee area on 15W tee.  The sublime skills of the Bobcat operator allowed us to barely leave a tyre track in the areas.  The turf arrives on Monday to finish the areas off.

A couple of photos below clearly belong in the "REALLY" file!!  Although one of the courses I played in the USA recently is a top 100  course with just 300 members and they have the same problem with care of the golf course. 

18 River fairway bunker.  One set of footprints.

4 juicy divots on 10W fairway.

As I have mentioned before - Please leave the course in a condition that you would like to find it.