Saturday, December 24, 2011

River greens

There have been a lot of complimentary comments about the River greens lately which is a nice way to go in to Christmas.  There are a number of factors involved but probably most importantly was the effort put in for the Greg Norman Foundation junior tournament in early December, particularly during the tournament.  Time for preparation was available during tournament week due to a 5.30 am start for the staff and a 6.40 am 2 tee start for the players (who were also very slow) which gave us an hours break on the play.  I invested 6 staff per morning on the River greens alone which when you consider I only had 13 staff that week was a large investment and one that I normally couldn't afford.  It allowed me to get the greens double cut and double rolled each morning before play and the results were obvious as there is no doubt that the greens played as well as they have ever done for the tournament. 
The preparation time is the critical factor as not only were the greens double cut but they were "slow" double cut.  By this I mean that the machine travels at snails pace across the green which increases the clip rate and therefore quality of cut.  Essentially the slower you mow the more times the blades strike the grass resulting in a finer and more even cut.  This takes time and manpower and on a course as busy as ours can't always be done.  We generally have to race to beat the play and the next few weeks are a perfect example with 6.00 am starts the norm with both courses heavily booked and the first groups generally playing in less than 3 hours.  An old adage on bowling greens is the best greens have the greenkeepers heel marks in them as he digs in to try and slow the speed of the mower down to improve the cut.
The different renovation technique used this year was also a factor as the damage to the greens at the renovation was much less than normal which resulted in a faster recovery.  Keeping the greens where they are at the moment, which is on the edge, is not sustainable on a year round basis as we need to have healthy grass cover to deal with our shade and player number issues.

The new fairway mowers arrived last week and have already got the fairways in great shape.  There will be some initial scalping in some areas as the heads are slightly smaller than our old ones and therefore tend to dig in a bit in some of the uneven areas on the fairways.  The new fairway shapes are starting to become well and truly evident and we now have a distinguishable fairway and the place looks like a golf course.

The burn heap has been mulched and some of the mulch has been transported up to the grassed area at the rear of the buggy shed where Members are free to help themselves.  It was interesting as I re-read this that I referred to the tree pile as the burn heap.  Its funny how names of things stick on golf courses.  At Cool Tweed we have the burn heap that hasn't had anything burned (legally) for over 10 years.  We also have the "junior putter" which is the grassed area out the front of the "old Pro Shop" that hasn't been used as a putting green for over 15 years that I know of and the old Pro Shop has been a buggy storage shed now for how long? 

On behalf of my staff I take this opportunity to wish all Members and readers a Merry Christmas and a safe New Year.  And a special thanks to those members who sent cards and Christmas goodies to my's great for staff morale.  Thank you.

Friday, December 16, 2011


I mentioned a couple of posts ago that the fairway shapes would be sprayed out to indicate the mowing lines and slightly altered and the West course was done this week with a slightly stronger line appearing that has caused some comment.  The actual shapes have not been formulated with any great strategy in mind but rather practicality.  They have been bought in around drainage grates, tree roots and areas under trees where leaves and sticks are always falling which can damage the blades of our mowers and with the new fairway mowers arriving on Monday, I want to protect them as much as possible.  They have also been reduced in some areas to allow for less mowing time.  The actual reduction is really very minimal and will not really have an impact on the total area of the fairways to any great degree.  Out of interest we have about 34 hectares of fairway area which is quite large when you consider that most 18 hole courses have about 14 hectares of mown fairway area.

Shaped around a messy tree on 1 West

Shaped around a drainage grate on 17 River

I could have made them this narrow!! 
This is at a pro tourny in Korea a few years ago.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Weekly roundup

The new Intermediate Mower has arrived and has been put to work with impressive initial results.  The photo below shows it in action mowing around the 1st West tee and it has handled any mounds we have thrown at it with ease.  There will be a period of settling in for some areas as the mower previously used on these areas was a "reel" type mower and the new one is a "rotary" type which will result in some minor scalping in a few areas.  Also notice in the photo the tee board at the 1st tee with the days sponsors displayed for all to see.  Just some more value for our valued sponsors.

New Toro 4700 in action

The new sand has been added to selected bunkers and we have had some positive feedback from a few players this week.  The real test for the sand will be when it installed on the face of the bunkers and its ability to withstand ball impact.  We used a backhoe to spread and compact the sand and also wheel rolled it with the bunker rake machines.  The recent heavy rain will also help firm the sand up.   It is interesting to see the amount of the sand that is splashed up on to the face of the bunkers with every shot played which is quite easy due to the different color. 

Backhoe in RHS 9 West

Whilst on the rain we finished up with 140mm in 24 hours from lunchtime Wednesday, much of which was good soaking rain which is just what we needed rather than the 25mm that fell in 20 minutes the previous Thursday and rendered the course temporarily unplayable as the photo of 10 west green shows.  The only worrying trend over the past 4 to 6 weeks is that the weather bureau has been spot on with their predictions!  They forecast that heavy rain last week almost to the minute and were the same with the timing of this weeks.  Unfortunately they are predicting rainfall for the next 3 days with a 95% chance on Saturday for up to 10mm then a 100% chance for Sunday with up to 25mm and a 95% chance for Monday with up to 25mm.  Let's hope they have gotten it wrong.

10 West flooded

The West greens are showing good recovery and with some plugging out this week should be back to a full cover shortly.  I mentioned a couple of posts back that a combination of events had caused significant stress and some turf loss.  As things have settled it is apparent that the greens with the variety of Bentgrass "1019 / 1020" (greens 2,5,6,7,8,9,10,18 and the practice) were worst affected  which has everyone scratching their heads as to why.  The one positive is that we have certainly killed the Poa (wintergrass) which is good as due to its shallow root system it is very quick to die out under summer heat stress.