Thursday, April 24, 2014

Well the run of beautiful weather continues and whilst temperatures in the high 20's is not uncommon in April it is the high night time temperatures that are quite unusual.  Growth across the courses has slowed which was nice with a four day working week last week and a three day this week making things tight.  The other bonus has been the lack of wind which has meant the courses have stayed clear of leaf debris meaning our efforts can be concentrated on the main playing areas.

I realise I harp on about unrepaired pitchmarks but even with the West greens much firmer they are still evident.  So much so that I now have a staff member specifically sent out to repair pitchmarks in front of the mowers in the mornings.  With limited crew numbers this takes a man away from other tasks preparing the courses.  

Weather permitting next Tuesday the West greens will receive a minor renovation consisting of a de-thatch and sanding.  The greens have quite a bit of thatch build up which is defined as - "The intermingled layer of living and dead grass stems, roots and other organic matter that is found between the soil surface and the leaf blades".  It is a bit unusual for them to have such high levels particularly at this time of year and it is causing them to mark up quite badly from foot traffic.  (Although when you see some of the "golf shoes" that are worn out there they don't stand a chance!)  The sanding will be of great benefit to help level the surface back up and fill in some of the thousands of pitchmarks.  The sanding is a regular operation but can't be done over summer as the West greens would literally cook and we will need to keep a close eye on them even with the current temperatures.

The West greens also need a deep tine aeration which is done with a machine called a "Verti-drain" that is able to penetrate around 175 mm (7 inches) with little to no surface disruption.  Once again this is a standard operation for this time of year to allow for some good air exchange.

Friday, April 11, 2014

A further 20mm of rain was just what we needed early in the week and with the fertiliser that was already out there and then some more during the week the playing surfaces are gearing up nicely with winter approaching. It might sound strange to be talking about winter when it’s still so warm but it is very important to make sure there is a full cover of healthy grass as a platform leading in to the cooler months.  The days are already shortening and shade is becoming an issue on the greens.  A couple of photos below show the effect of shade already on 13 and 15 River greens and it is only mid April.

The northern side of east / west aligned fairways like 2, 4, 5, 11 and 12 River along with 7 West all start to struggle with the lack of direct sunlight.  All these areas received some extra fertiliser 2 weeks ago to help them along but good light is what they really need. You may have read elsewhere on the club website where Club Captain Dave Morrison mentioned the trees at the rear of 15R green are to be removed.  This will help a huge amount of light to reach the playing surfaces and will have an immediate effect on the playing surfaces on greens 15W, 3R and even 2W as well as the three tees in the area.  A couple of years ago the Cadagi trees at the rear of 9W green were removed which saw an instant improvement to 9 green.

13 R green shade at 12 noon today

15 R green shade at 1.30 pm today

And I must sound like a broken record but it's most disheartening when the hard work is put in all week and the courses are in excellent condition that someone could come out and do this to 120 metres from the green on 16 West fairway late Friday afternoon.  It explains the 6 big juicy unrepaired pitchmarks I found on the green though!! 

And on a lighter note over the years I have been asked to help people in all sorts of situations on a golf course.  Clubs stuck up trees or on the bottom of a dam, players needing a toilet in a hurry, finding a players buggy and clubs after it "disappeared" (yes that happened), relaunching a houseboat that had run aground and even retrieving one of Club Pro Russ Davis' hire buggies from a creek.
Bad buggy driving!!
But I received a phone call on Wednesday this week from a rather frantic female who's RV was "stuck and I need some help".  Somehow she had gotten all the way to the end of the levee bank road adjacent to 8 River fairway and was unable to turn around.  The photo below shows where she got to about 150 metres past 2 River tee.  It's hard enough to get that far up on my motorbike let alone in a rig that big.  Somehow I got her out without a scratch!!

How did she get that far?

Saturday, April 5, 2014

What a week with the exponential grass growth having all available mowers on course in an attempt to keep up and that they did as I think the course is as good as good as I have seen it and full credit goes to my crew.  A very busy playing schedule this week made it difficult to get the work done productively but they did a great job.  The lack of wind helps a lot in keeping the playing areas clean as well which only adds to the aesthetics.

The downside, as it is so often, are the pitch marks on the West greens. The greens are extra soft at this time of year as I have explained previously with a very poor root structure at the end of summer and the fact that Bentgrass coupled with a sub tropical climate and 200+ players per day is not an ideal recipe.  The blatant disregard for the repair of pitchmarks never ceases to amaze me as it only makes putting more difficult.  Plus the fact that every unrepaired mark is a potential disease site which puts the turf under even more stress.  Last Monday the Gold Coast Veterans played the West course and after they finished I repaired 7 totally untouched pitch marks on 9 West green.  The next morning after further play on Monday afternoon I repaired 12 totally untouched marks on 9 West.  All we can do is ask you to please repair them.

The other week I mentioned about someone wearing football boots while playing.  I was astounded to find a footprint in a bunker this week obviously from a golf shoe but heavens above it looks capable of causing some serious damage to any greens let alone the West greens.

That heel could cause some serious damage!!

And I am pretty sure that a couple of holes later those shoes above were responsible for this.  It’s hard to imagine how someone could leave a bunker like that then just walk straight up the face to exit the bunker.

There are a couple of signs on the course that pre date me saying “Good golfers repair divots – others must”.  The same could be applied to pitch mark repairs and raking bunkers!