Friday, March 24, 2017

Another week of some good rainfall amounting to about 90mm but gee hasn't it got the grass moving along with the mosquitoes!!  The fairways are under a growth regulator that generally last 4 weeks almost to the day but they have already kicked after just 3 weeks which shows just how ideal the growing conditions are and the roughs are out of control, particularly any Kikuyu areas.  Across the courses we are struggling to keep up with the grass growth but be assured we are doing our best.  The humid conditions are perfect for disease formation but the plant protectant programs in place have so far done exactly what they are required to do and that is prevent disease in conditions such as these.  When you see the proliferation of mushrooms popping up you know it is exceptionally hot and humid.

A nice crop at the rear of 8W green
The new TifEagle greens got a fertilise and sanding earlier this week and I thought I would video the operation for publication on the Blog.  It may be the last sanding the greens get although the weather is still holding up quite well so there might be time for another.  The sand used is the same that they were constructed with and there is some gypsum and a mix of humates added which was also part of the construction mix which helps prevent building up of differing soil layers in the greens profile.




Friday, March 17, 2017

A week interrupted by some much needed rainfall and fortunately we got what we needed rather than the soaking some courses further south received with Byron Bay receiving 250+ mm on Tuesday when we received a very timely  38mm which was followed another 20mm on Wednesday.  The courses certainly took it well after such a prolonged dry period and is just the tonic to finish off summer and set us up for the winter.

The new TifEagle greens are settling in very well and as with all new greens holding nutrients in them to maintain colour is a real juggling act.  I prefer to shy away from synthetic fertlisers when they are young and will be putting out a granular product on them next week.  The synthetics normally only last a week or so whereas the product I will use should give us 4 - 6 weeks.  It will co-incide with another sanding which may well be the last before the winter arrives.  It will also compliment the soil amendments that were added to the sand during construction where the goal was to put in a range of natural products to try and "create" a six year old profile rather than a brand new sand based profile.

I had a visit from a life time long Superintendent from Florida today and at his last course was growing TifEagle so it was great to get some first hand information from him.  He was pretty impressed with the surface for such young greens at Cool Tweed.  I will be holidaying in the USA this June and will be taking some time out to visit some courses in Naples and West Palm Beach in Florida where TifEagle is all the rage.  Three of the courses I am visiting have ex pat Aussie Superintendents as well!!  I also showed him a couple of the 328 River greens which bemused him as it hasn't been used on greens in the USA for many years.  "I gotta get a photo of me on a 328 green for my buddies" he beamed. 

Hopefully the massive amounts of rain predicted over the week end don't eventuate and we get what the courses need rather than a wash out.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Another week of pretty much routine maintenance with some cooler temperatures overnight making not only sleeping a lot more comfortable but also allowing soil temperatures to start cooling which is a godsend for the remaining bentgrass greens.  This time next year will be a different story when the warmer it stays the better for the next stage of the TifEagle conversion on the West course as the TifEagle thrives in the hot conditions.  The new greens are really coming in to their own at the moment and are improving every day.  I would like to get another heavy sanding in to help finally level the surface off but that will depend on the weather and golfing programme.

It was also a week of very high tides with water inundating some of the lower areas on 1R fairway and the short range leaving some burn evident on the common couchgrasses that are on these areas.  Over the years we have planted a salt resistant grass called "Seashore Paspalum" in these areas and as the photo shows it really is salt resistant!!  Many courses in SE Asia where they have poor quality water have used this grass and it is so versatile that it can be used throughout the course and mown at different heights including putting green height.  Quite amazing!!

Seashore Paspalum still green

And I was checking my photos from the construction this week for an article I have been asked to write and came across a video that I had forgotten about of 17W green.  It was taken on a day as windy as any of those this week and shows the flag on 17W green not even moving whilst the surrounding trees and 13W temporary flag are thrashing about.  Air movement across a putting green in particular is critical to assist cooling the surface so it's a good demonstration of one of the factors that caused 17W to fail as a bentgrass green.



Friday, March 3, 2017

60 of the best millimetres of rain during the week you could wish to get.  Some was a little heavy but certainly no complaints here.  The courses were just about as dry as I have seen them in the near eighteen years I have been here.  The rain wasn't all that widespread so we may have been very lucky with what we got.  The small dam on the corner of 5W has been dry twice that I can remember and would have been dry this week without the rain.

5W dam last week
5W dam after 60mm 😀

 A 328 nursery green was planted this week on the site of the old bentgrass nursery green so some more new turf to look forward to growing in.

New 328 Nursery green.

Not really much else to report from this week as we were busy keeping the new turf on 12 and 14 west alive and tending to normal routine maintenance.  The rain and heat will really get the rough moving along so the rough mowers are primed and ready to go for next week

Friday, February 24, 2017

The mounding has been installed on 12 & 14 West and irrigation was installed yesterday.  The areas will be turfed on Monday and with the predicted rainfall should be thriving very quickly.  To install the irrigation the pumps needed to be shut down to allow for new tappings to be made and this means the system loses a lot of water and as I have mentioned before it is very important to expel the air from the pipework as slowly and thoroughly as possible, especially given the age and condition of some of the pipework on course.  

Not only does this mean a very late finish it also means a long and nervous day with no back up water available for the remaining front nine West Bentgrass greens.  They got through OK and the new TifEagle greens just keep improving every day and despite their young age had no dryness issues appear.

Unfortunately after such a complete irrigation system shutdown there is always the possibility of damage from air in the system, despite the best efforts to expel it.  There is no definitive plan of the network of piping under the ground and there are a lot of unknown areas where air can accumulate.  Sure enough a "Friday afternoon special" appeared on 2W fairway when a 100mm mainline let go but this was due more to the frailty of the pipe.  Fortunately Gus from Gus's Mini Excavators was able to leave a job he was on and come down and excavate for us to make the repair.  So another late night awaits while the system is bled again!!

Friday afternoon special!!

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!!