Friday, November 26, 2010

It's truly amazing just how many leaves trees can produce and then let the wind blow them all over the golf courses!  Surely there can't be anymore left up there to blow down.  The wind has finally started to moderate and it is a credit to my staff the way they persisted with the blowing and clearing leaves and sticks from the main playing areas.  It can be frustrating sometimes when you are literally up against the wind but they did a great job under the circumstances.  It may seem a waste of time to players to be doing so much clearing in the windy conditions but the more sunlight we can get to the turf the better and the better the enjoyment of the game.

The fan at the 17th West green has had its final tweakings and has now been permanently mounted on some scaffolding and prettied up with some shade cloth.  There are still lots of people asking about it so it will definitely be a topic of conversation at next Thursdays course information session.  The fan produces air flow of 35 kmh 2 metres from it and I have recorded flow of up to 7 kmh at the front of the green.  It may seem strange for it to be operating in the windy conditions but it is important for the air movement to continue whenever there is a drop in wind velocity.
Final resting place

We are slowly but surely updating our rubbish bin / ball washer / NTP card holders.  They do take quite a bit of time to assemble and are being done as time allows our Head Mechanic Craig Plowman.  They look quite smart with the stainless steel post a great improvement over the old timber.  
Very nice addition

The Yagi antenna that was mentioned in an earlier post has operated faultlessly and three other locations will now have them installed over the coming weeks.  With the temperatures rising it is crucial that the irrigation control system is operating at its best.

Monday, November 22, 2010


One of the more annoying things that can happen to a golf course is when morons decide to drive their car on the course, and in particular the greens.  I have seen worse damage and the green is still basically playable but it is most annoying.  The sad part is that when you look at where the tyre marks lead, i.e. straight between the bunkers, it is obvious that the driver was well acquainted with the golf course. 
Add to this damage the six divots that have been taken out of the greens over the weekend and you can tell their are some angry people on the courses.  Having the "pleasure" of watching some of the attempted golf swings out there, they may be better to harness their anger, invest in some lessons and improve their game......and leave the golf course alone!!

11 River green

Friday, November 19, 2010

Encroachment 4

The West greens were treated today with a product that helps control and prevent Couchgrass from flourishing in the greens.  As I have mentioned before there is no sure fire method of completely removing the foreign Couchgrass and the best we can hope for is containment.  There is a stain on the greens from the application that should wash in and/or grow out over a couple of days.  In contrast to the new product I have trialled on other greens that has resulted in quite a distinct dis-colouration, this stain is not permanent.

Staining on sprayed areas

The pump that re-circulates water through the dams at 7 / 8 West has broken down and is currently being assessed for repair.  The water in these dams is very salty/muddy and there is an abundance of aquatic weed and mussels of all things that make the life of a pump in this situation difficult to say the least.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Air waves

The irrigation control system has now been installed 9 years and is still in excellent operating order.  However, there has always been intermittent communication problems between the base station located at the maintenance shed and the 25 controller locations throughout the courses.  The worst of these locations have always been the farthest away and those secluded by trees, of which we have many.  Over recent times lack of signal strength has worsened and it has become increasingly frustrating to try to send out irrigation programs.  Testing has established that the increase in the leaf canopy height and density is the main culprit and to overcome this a new type of antenna has been installed as a trial at the 18th River green.  Called a Yagi - Uda (commonly known as just "Yagi") the antenna is more directional than the whip antennas used on some of our locations at the moment which better suits the type of signal we are transmitting from the base station.  Unfortunately at the 18th River green the antenna needed to be mounted just above the controller enclosure and looks a bit out of place and certainly more visible than I would like.  The main thing for me is that it hasn't missed communicating since being installed which is very promising and will be trialled over the coming weeks.

Old whip antenna on box dwarfed by Yagi overhead.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Course information session

These sessions have proven successful in the past and another is to be held on Thursday December 2nd commencing at 4.30pm DST at the Course Maintenance Shed in Davey Street.  All interested Members are most welcome to attend. 

The intention of the session is to discuss, explain and enlighten members as to our maintenace practices and procedures.  Questions are most welcome which will also save me having to come up with some topics!!  This Blog is a useful communication tool but is limited by my typing speed so the information session will allow me to expand on matters of interest concerning the courses.  I hope to see you there.

Encroachment 3

Encroachment is a dirty word when it comes to golf greens and unless you have a large pool of resources at your disposal it is very hard to combat.  I am talking about foreign grasses invading the putting surface and pretty much the best way to successfully prevent it is constant monitoring and hand removal, which is very labour intensive.  Selective chemical controls are limited in Bentgrass greens and non-existent in Couch greens. 

There have been several barrier type products promoted over the years as a successful method but I am yet to see them be successful over the long term.  Other methods include running an edger blade around the perimeter which, whilst partially successful, also requires a large labour input and you finish up with a small groove that relief needs to be taken from and the line of play can be interfered with.  Painting Roundup on with a paint brush has been tried but you cant have players walk on it or else they will spread the chemical so on a course as busy as ours this is also not viable.

A couple of months ago we sprayed out some collars and areas on the River greens as reported in Blog posts on September 7 and 14.  The old turf was only removed to sod cutter depth following application of a herbicide and the concern with this is regrowth of the Couchgrass.  In the photo below you can see Couch re-shooting after 300mm of soil was removed at the nursery green, so I don't hold out a lot of hope on the River greens despite the application of herbicide.

Regrowth of Couch after 300mm of sand removed
The West greens have a similar problem with Couchgrass constantly encroaching.  There is a product registered for the control of Couchgrass in Bent greens but it is not effective on all types of Couch.  It is interesting with this product that in the USA the label warns not to apply it to putting greens!  I have used it since I arrived here and had good success against the susceptible varieties early on but now really only apply it to limit the invasion.  Over the past 3 summers I have been trialling a new product with some success although the downside is that there is some dis-colouration of the Bentgrass.  Trials are continuing this year and you will notice this dis-colouring over the next few weeks. As I don't believe it interferes with the putting surface I am happy to continue the trialling and hope we have the same success as  last season..

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The fan

The fan at the 17th West green has now been operational for a week and under going assessment for the best location and height, whilst on the back of our tipper.  At this stage I am confident that it is now in the optimum position to provide the required airflow across the green.  A more permanent mounting is the next phase of the installation and this will take place within the next two weeks. It has always been the intention that the fan will run 24/7 during the peak stress time, which will be November through till the end of March at the earliest.  A couple of days this week have been quite humid with a variable wind and this is where the fan can come into its own by ensuring that air movement is maintained across the green surface.  There will be days where the wind is blowing constantly and it seems that the fan isn't doing much, but it is critical that it is on to supplement the wind at any time that wind speed drops.  Obviously operating during the night time when the air is heavy and moist is also crucial  Actual running costs are difficult to determine but around $7 per 24 hour period or $50 per week is expected.

I mentioned in a previous post that fans are not a new phenomenon on golf courses and that they have been widely used on golf courses throughout the world.  This past summer in the USA has seen a huge increase in the use of fans on Bentgrass greens with air circulation problems, due to the severity of the heat and humidity.  In the south east States of Georgia, Alabama, The Carolina's and northern Florida, virtually all courses with Bentgrass greens now use fans.  The main objective of the fan is essentially to create a wind vortex across the surface of the green to replace  humid air with less humid air.  This drier air environment is critical in assisting the turf plant to resist invasion by disease.  Although the 17th West green doesn't appear to be in a "pocket" location like the 12th River green is, it definitely has major air circulation issues that cause ambient, surface and soil temperatures to be several degrees higher than elsewhere on the courses.  As golfers you are lucky as you only need to spend a few minutes on the green before heading to the 18th and then the Clubhouse for a cool refreshing drink.  The turf on the green however, has to endure these temperatures on a continuing basis and this is where the fan will assist most.  The following is a good quote from an article by Darin Bevard of the USGA Green Section;  "Good air movement is crucial for turfgrass maintenance. When possible, the best option for improving airflow around putting greens is to remove trees and underbrush to maximize natural airflow. When tree and underbrush removal are not possible, properly installed fans provide a good alternative to improve the growing environment. The worst thing to do is nothing. Poor growing environments do not improve without help." 

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Blowing in the wind

The fan at the 17th West Green is now in place and is in its trial phase.  It is temporarily mounted on the back of our tip truck so we can conduct some assessments to determine the optimum operation height.  A sturdy stand will be required which will be concreted in so it is obviously vital to have the height and location in relation to the green exact.  It is currently operating at 80% of its capacity and air movement has been felt across the entire green and will be monitored over the next week or so particularly in the mornings before the normal coastal breezes start up.  Some wind speed figures will be recorded and published here at a later date.

17th West Green fan