Friday, February 17, 2017

A very busy week across the courses this week and the dry conditions continue with the irrigation system stretched to the limit.  At least we have a reasonable supply of water that although it is not ideal for turfgrass it is way better than having to buy potable water in as many clubs along the east coast are doing.  The grass is still motoring along though and when we do get the break in the dry conditions and receive some reasonable rainfall the grass will be really growing.  90% chance of 15 - 25 mm on Sunday would be a very nice start!!

I think "brutal" would be the best way to describe the weather last week end but the remaining Bentgrass greens are handling the summer thus far it fairly well. There is no doubt that the lower number of players is part of the reason for them hanging in so well.  There is an enormous amount of stress placed on any kind of putting surface from foot traffic and unrepaired pitch marks that then become disease sites.  I have seen it before when the courses are effectively "closed" for a few days after a rain event and there is no traffic on the greens and the immediate improvement.  

Maybe it's an omen for some rain but he probably just likes the fish in the dams but we have a huge Pelican that is regularly landing on 15W green and watching over the dam.  It's an awesome sight to see it land and / or fly off.  Mother Nature really is amazing sometimes.

The Pelican

Trenching to 1W tee

Elsewhere on the courses the line to the drinking fountain at 1W tee was replaced this week and as suggested last week the collars on the TifEagle greens were scarified.  The greens themselves are still maturing and dependent on how they progress next week may get another heavy sanding to assist the surface develop.

Next week will see the construction of some mounding on 12 and 14W fairways so both holes will play shorter at various times on Monday and Tuesday weather permitting.

Friday, February 10, 2017

12 West green was able to be opened last week which brings to an end the grow in phase for the new Tifeagle greens.  We now enter the "finishing" phase with a lot of work needed to tie the greens in to the surrounds that started a few weeks ago with the collars being heavily scarified which is an operation that will happen again when time permits.  The LHS of 10W has had a couple of runs of turf removed to lower the lip against the green which will re-generate quite quickly.  It has certainly been a project full of long hours and hard work and is a credit to the staff and contractors involved.  Also a big thanks to the members for your support and understanding throughout the process.  I am amazed with the positive comments I have continually received from players throughout particularly when there were eight temporary greens in play.

As mentioned last week the new West greens were all given a heavy sanding this week to assist in leveling up the putting surface and to get them as consistent as possible.  It is a very important step in the development of the playing surface and now means that we can concentrate on all the greens utilising the same green keeping practices and watch them mature and get better by the day.

I thought I would try something a bit different this week and have included a couple of videos explaining one of the jobs that we do that gets regularly questioned.  Hope you enjoy them!

And finally the camouflage skills of Tawny Frog Mouth owls never ceases to amaze me although these two were perched in a Casuarina right in the drive zone on the RHS 11W so I hope they got through the day unscathed!

Hard to see!!

Friday, February 3, 2017

Another hot windy and dry week that made course maintenance difficult with a number of spraying jobs mounting up due to not being able to get out in the mornings due to wind.  The fairways are holding on a little better in this dry spell though, although with virtually no rain in the forecast for the next seven days it may not last.

These are also the conditions that really stretch the remaining Bentgrass greens on the West course.  Soil temperatures around 30 degrees and water from the holding dam being pumped out at high 20's is a recipe for disaster and this is the time of year that just about all you can do is hold on and hope they can pull through.  Remembering that Bentgrass roots start dying at soil temperatures above 25 degrees and we rarely get below 23 degrees so it is quite a battle.  The TifEagle on the other hand is thriving in the hot conditions.  At least there is only nine Bentgrass greens left now which makes it somewhat easier than past years.

Some irrigation issues at 12 West green means it may not open tomorrow as earlier planned as it isn't quite holding enough moisture throughout the day as well as the other TifEagle greens have done.  A near full field booked in tomorrow would exert too much pressure on the fledgling turf so we will err on the side of caution.  The others TifEagle greens continue to develop and on a suitable day of weather in the next two weeks they will receive quite a heavy sanding which will be one of the final steps in the leveling of the surface.

Next week will see us hopefully get back on top of the spray programs if the weather is kind.  We will also be re-turfing the two old bunker areas on 6 River to allow for better growth and the tree stump at the LHS of 12W will be covered and turfed.

Irrigation issues in the middle of 12W temporary as well!!

Friday, January 27, 2017

And then there was one!!!  Barring a catastrophe overnight West greens 10 and 18 will open to play tomorrow leaving just the 12th to go.  18W is only 10 weeks since planting and 10W is 11 weeks with 13W being the oldest green in play at just 15 weeks.  Improvement in the putting surface and coverage is noticeable virtually every day and once all greens are in play then some serious "across the board" greenkeeping can take place to smooth the surface out. 

The River greens have had some extra attention applied especially now that the "silly season" of golf has passed.  Almost daily 6am starts on the River course has made even bare basic maintenance difficult but time is now available for more work to be done.

Finally the end of the short working weeks with the passing of Australia Day.  Missing a days work has a dramatic effect on what can be achieved on the courses.  One staff member on annual leave and another with a family emergency on top of a casual employee resigning last Friday made it an extra tough week to get the work done.  Fortunately the irrigation system behaved itself and only required routine inspection over the week. 

A couple of calm mornings early in the week afforded the opportunity to get some herbicide out on the West course.  Most green surrounds and fairway borders were treated resulting in some yellowing off which will recover rapidly.

Hard to believe this is just 11 weeks ago on 18W

Friday, January 20, 2017

Another irrigation leak that was found this week was cause for concern for most of Wednesday as the repair had to be done immediately which meant the water needed to be shut down from 9.30am on Wednesday which left the Bentgrass greens and the new TifEagle greens with no back up water if required during what was the hottest day of the week.  Fortunately they got through unscathed.

The new TifEagle greens continue to develop and 10 was nearly ready to be opened this week just ten weeks after planting which was when 11, 14, and 16 were opened.  15 was the fastest and opened 8 weeks after planting.  So the greens are still young and maturing and are all at different mowing heights due to their age which is a logistical nightmare to co-ordinate at times.  Once the greens are all at the same height then a proper program can be commenced to get consistency across the back nine.   

Elsewhere on the courses the 50mm of rain that fell in that brutal storm last Sunday morning has done the world of good.  We probably didn't get full value of all the rain as it came down so fast that a lot of it ran off but it certainly sparked things up, in particular the fairways.  They were treated with the normal monthly application of growth regulator this week and I really don't know what I would do without the product.  One of the big advantages of the growth regulator is its ability to stop the formation of seedhead on the Couchgrass which is very difficult to mow off.  It also really tightens the surface up when there is adequate moisture available and as its name suggests it regulates the growth.  We only operate two fairway mowers over the 36 holes which contain about 32 hectares of mown fairway and we would need to double that without using the regulator.  Two more mowers mean two more staff to drive them and fuel to run them so there are significant savings realised by using it not to mention the great playing surfaces. 

Friday, January 13, 2017

A very productive week with fewer players than the previous weeks making it a lot easier to get the work done.  One of the skills you need to work on a course as busy as Cool Tweed is the ability to keep working in amongst the play and it is something that is talked about with all prospective employees.
The week didn't start well though as I heard the irrigation pumps cycling when there was no sprinklers running which generally means a leak which I quickly found as I walked to the pump shed and saw the water bubbling out of the 17R tee rockwall.  Visions of uprooting the entire rockwall appeared and the need for some sort of excavator was going to be required which on a moments notice is not always that easy to arrange together with the knowledge that it was a 150mm mainline.  But the excavator that did the West greens was going to be working on Queensland time on Monday and could come in first thing to do the digging.  So at 4.30 am we started the dig and fortunately found the leak outside the wall and got the job done.  It did mean that there was no water available if required for 8 very new greens and 9 tender Bentgrass greens in 30+ degree temperatures so it was a fairly nerve wracking day hoping for the best.  Purging the air that gets in to the lines is extremely important and this was done late in the day followed by a full irrigation cycle so after arriving to the course at 4.15am I got back in my car at 7.25pm to go home.

Doing the repair

And I guess last Friday was sort of part of this week when some moron decided that the courses would be a good 4 wheel drive venue and in particular the bunkers.  Fortunately there was little damage to the turf and / or the bunkers as they wheeled through 15 bunkers and across 6 greens including 15W which was only opened the day after.

Out of LHS bunker 14R and across the green

Thru RHS bunker 16R and across the green

Across 15W green

The back 9 West greens continue to develop with 5 of the 8 currently in play.  The greens are still very young and will continue to develop.  10W was close to being opened this week but it is still only 9 weeks since it was planted so another week will do it wonders.  All the greens should be back in play by February 4 which is well in advance of when anticipated.

The greens are being constantly monitored for soil moisture during the day to ensure that there is no heat stress / drying out of which there has been none evident at this stage.  The 5 greens that are open lose about 25% of soil moisture content during the day which would just about be curtains for them if they were Bentgrass.

Friday, January 6, 2017

56 of the most welcome millimetres of rain earlier in the week with parts of the courses as dry as I have seen.  You know it's dry when there are burn marks left from buggies driving across areas that are parched so the rain was just in time.  The promise of more rain to come on Friday night is quite tantalising so hopefully it arrives and is slow enough to allow it to soak in.

The crew have done a great job over the short weeks with nearly everything getting covered over the past two weeks.  The massive number of players doesn't help productivity but the work continues although you need to keep your eyes aware of balls.

11, 13 and 16 West greens were opened last week end and have survived their first week relatively unscathed despite the large player numbers.  They are a little rough around the collars and surrounds but the greens are in fine condition and the surrounds are improving by the day.  14 and 15 will open this week end after only 10 weeks growth time since planting.  10 and 18 are both down to greens height so won't be far away from play.

Opening day for 11W

18W mowing height coming down