Friday, October 13, 2017

An exceptionally busy week with preparations for the Pro am on top of the ongoing front 9 West construction works.  Tuesday was the day that the top layer of material was to be installed in to 1W green until a 5am discovery found a 6 inch irrigation mainline had burst and had lost 80% of water in storage.  There is no rhyme or reason or foreseeable cause for these breaks but it nearly couldn't have occured at a worst time.  Fortunately the excavator was on site and was able to dig the hole quickly for us and get the repair done.  A pretty stressful day though with no water available and 7 remaining bentgrass greens drying out with temperatures well in the 30's. And a day lost on the greens project.

Front 18W tee where the irrigation main burst.

 I mentioned the "top layer" of the green above and this is the top 100mm (4 inches) which is what is known as "amended sand".  In the old days (and sometimes today) just straight sand was used to build the greens and then some fertiliser would be rotary hoed or raked in to the surface.  This generally didn't form a very consistent profile so it is much better to mix the amendments at the sand yard and then have it delivered as a blend.  I have a consulting agronomist who advises on what to include and based on the success and health of the greens last year he is right on the money.  The photo below gives a very good comparison between the "barren" base sand and the "amended" top layer on 1W.

The difference between the 2 sands is plain to see.

1 West green was planted today as was the new collar.  I mentioned last week that Santa ana would be used as the collar grass and would be harvested off our own fairways.  The photos below show the green being hand watered to keep the plant moist while the collar was planted which is evident in the middle photo below.  The bottom photo shows where the Santa ana is being harvested from on 9W fairway.  The collar is a bit more than a metre wide which will allow a greensmower to mow it and also for the same size mower to scarify and de-thatch the area.
1W planted

1W collar planted
9W harvesting area.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Well it was only 45mm of rain that fell but it is some of the most welcome rain I have seen here.  A nice soaking rain that was just what we needed with very little run off.  For the first time since I have been here I recorded a zero rainfall month during September.  Indeed since July 20 we had received just 4.6mm of rain until last Sunday!!  It did delay the start of the Front 9 West greens project but it didn't really bother anyone, particularly me!

A very productive week with 1W green being dug out and irrigation installed.  The dig went well with mainly good material coming out that has been stockpiled for future use around the courses.  A very similar profile to the back 9 greens with a gravel layer on top of a functional drainage system.  The green has been extended about 4 metres to the left but the rest of the green has been taken out to the "existing well" of the old green.  The excavated hole does look very big at the moment but that includes a one metre collar which will be planted with Santa ana which is the variety of couchgrass found on 4, 9 and 10 West fairways.  I have been doing some trials on the Santa ana and it doesn't seem to throw out such aggressive runners as the common couchgrasses elsewhere which will hopefully help limit encroachment into the greens.  A couple of other SE Qld courses are finding the same result.  At this stage the green should be planted next Friday. 

The sequence of the other greens being done is totally weather dependent as some of the areas on the West course can get and stay very wet making access for the trucks very difficult.  We have got some heavy steel plates onsite for the duration and these are used to cover known irrigation mainlines and on kerbs and paths to prevent damage.

Steel plates protecting the 6 inch irrigation main on 17R

Road to 1W.
Most of the front nine greens are "perched" in the air and will require a pretty decent road to be built to allow truck access as was done at the rear of 1W.

And here is a video of the start of excavation at 1W.


Tuesday, October 3, 2017

7mm of rain at 9am Monday morning and 38mm on Tuesday morning.  A few other places got more and the greens works have lost a day but we are certainly not complaining!!

LHS 5W last Friday

LHS 5W Tuesday morning

Friday, September 29, 2017

For all intents and purposes it is certainly summer already with the 30 degree mark being surpassed three times in the compound this week.  Full scale irrigation is under way and a couple of calm nights followed some of the very windy days week allowing for some non-wind affected irrigation and you can certainly see the difference in some of the fairways.  Nothing is as good as rain water though but there's not much of that in sight unfortunately.

I said last week that we would make a mess on the left side of 1W green this week and we did exactly that! Three unknown pipes in the first few metres of trenching had our hearts in our mouths but it all finished up ok.  We re-located the 6 inch irrigation main as well as the irrigation controller power and they are now a minimum of 1.8 metres under the ground down the left side.  This means that we have no restriction when adjusting levels on the left side where the green is to be extended.

1W trenching

In four more sleeps and after two grand finals we make a start on the front 9 West greens conversion to TifEagle.  Barring something unusual happening over the week end we will be starting at 1W and moving forward from there.  Unfortunately the transport co-ordinator I had last year to truck the sand in and out has retired so given recent dealings with the same company I don't expect that part of the project to go that well unfortunately.  It is very difficult to forecast exactly when we will need trucks and we were certainly blessed with what transpired last year as most of the time twelve hours is about the most notice we can give and sometimes only two!  With approximately 300 tonne of material being trucked away and replaced it is certainly a big part of the project.

The River greens have started to wake from their winter and we took the opportunity to give them a good de-thatch and sanding on Thursday as part of their preparations for the Pro am on next Friday week.  The sand also contains some Gypsum which is vital in combating some of the undesirable ingredients in our irrigation water, particularly the salts.  There is also some humic compost blended with the sand which helps give the greens some nutrient, but not too much.

EDIT;  Wow how the forecast can change with some rain due next week now to coincide with the start of the greens project unfortunately.  Hopefully it's not the start of an early wet spell though but my websites tell me a very high probability of 25mm+ on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday.

Friday, September 22, 2017

The dry continues but it really isn't much different for this time of year with the last two years almost carbon copies.  Last year the dry continued through till December which was a blessing for the greens re-surfacing program and I would certainly like the same this year although a little precipitation would be good.  As with other years the constant wind makes irrigation mostly inefficient so fairways are generally not programmed on nights where the wind is forecast to continue.  As I have mentioned before, I use "WillyWeather" as my most reliable source of weather information as they have a very good and simple graph system to follow and are very accurate.

Another thing that tells me it is a normal season is the need to apply some growth regulator to the fairways to control seedhead formation on some of what I call the "mongrel couches".  I call them mongrel because they are varieties that cause a lot of problems and sending up a stalky seedhead is at the top of the list.  Their seedhead is normally very purplish in colour and is very difficult to mow and reforms very quickly following been mown off.. Fortunately the growth regulator we use prevents seedhead formation.  This application has taken place in the 3rd week of September since 2003 which shows the consistent nature of the weather events.

That was one thing that struck me the first time I toured golf courses in the US of A way back in 1988.  At one of the courses that I visited the Superintendent told me that a particular type of tree had started flowering which meant is was too late to apply a certain product to his course.  I don't think we really have a lot of that type of information available in Australia and seem to rely more on calendar timing.  Although there is a Jacaranda tree that I drive by on my way home which is always the first to flower and that happened early this week.  It's weird though as the Jacaranda in my front yard can be a month behind it!!

And speaking of America friends that I recently visited in Naples are still in the recovery process from Hurricane Irma  and have only just had power restored to their homes and the water is only just returning to a drinkable quality.  Weather in Naples at the moment compares to February here which would be very uncomfortable without power and fresh water.

This coming Monday we sort of start the front 9 West greens conversion to TifEagle with the six inch irrigation mainline together with power and irrigation tubing being re-located further away from the green to allow for the green to be enlarged by some 4.5 metres to the left allowing for greater pin placement area.  The temporary green will be in play on Monday whilst we carry out this work.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Another glorious week albeit a little on the windy side which as I have mentioned before makes overnight irrigation very unreliable.  A very busy week as well with exposed tree roots being removed from fairways which is quite a laborious task which leaves quite a mess behind as I mentioned last week.  The video below shows one of the removals in progress.

A nice tangle of roots on 13W

Rakes are now being left out of bunkers as a trial and there has been paint applied where the rake should be placed after using it to help players.  

Bunkers have always been an emotional topic with virtually everyone having a different view.  The great Peter Thomson says that bunkers shouldn't be raked at all by groundstaff for play and that they should be as hard as possible to get out of.  I remember Seve Ballesteros at Royal Melbourne complaining that the bunkers were too easy to get out of such was the level of manicuring applied to them and that was back in the 1980's.  It is commonplace now to see 6 or 8 people in a bunker preparing it for tournament play, especially on the PGA Tour in the US.  Most Superintendents would tell you now that almost as many resources are put into bunker preparation and maintenance as greens.  They are a hazard aren't they??!!  

And the great Walter Travis who was one of the greatest amateurs to play the game agrees with Peter Thomson as per the article below and he wasn't too keen on short rough either!!.  Travis was an interesting character and was an accomplished player who was the first "American" to win the British amateur.  I have American in inverted commas there as he was actually born and raised in central Victoria in the town of Maldon before moving to the USA, marrying and becoming a US citizen!!  He was also quite a prodigious golf course architect during and after his playing career as well as an authority on turfgrasses.

Not too sure about the last sentence!!

Friday, September 8, 2017

Another amazing week of spring weather with just about perfect conditions for golf and the golf courses to match it.  The dry spell certainly continues and we are just about at full scale irrigation at night at the moment with some supplemental localised hand watering needed on greens on both courses in the early morning.  It's an incredible contrast when you consider that the southern sea side resort Lorne in Victoria actually had snow fall on Tuesday this week and the maximum temperature has hovered around 10 degrees all week.

The weed control in the fairways is ongoing and another application will be due next week.  When you look at the differing results on the Blue Couch it shows just how many different varieties we have out there.  Elsewhere on the courses and the broadleaf weeds in the roughs have also been sprayed.  In contrast to other years the level of Clover in the roughs is at an all time low which would be interesting to know why whereas the Cotula has gone crazy this year.  Weather conditions and the golfing program finally aligned and we were able to get the River greens sprayed to eradicate some of the wintergrass that had appeared.  The patches of "green" couch in the greens will be spotted, once again when conditions are suitable and then replaced with fresh turf after their renovation in November.

Next week will see the removal of exposed tree roots from fairways.  This is the operation where we use a backhoe with a ripper attachment to hook under the roots and pull them out.  It does cause quite some surface disruption but is very necessary from the playability and mowing point of view.

Other than just general course maintenance there is a lot of behind the scenes preparations for the front 9 West greens project that starts on Tuesday October 3 going on.  Most of the hardware we require is now on site and the turf is in great condition at the turf farm from all reports.  I will be venturing up there in the next week just to check it out in person.  Now we just need the weather to cooperate.   

And always nice to get a compliment for the work we do with the following arriving in an email today;
The star of the show, and the Belle of the ball is the Green Keepers, I have been to all the name dropping courses over the world, and I will go as far to say, your course, is as good if not better than all of them.  The credit must go to the course staff for helping us have a good walk, a great game and a tonne of fun.

Please pass this on to whoever is in charge of the course staff.