Thursday, December 24, 2015

Quite a busy week of golf on the courses this week which is a little unusual in the week leading into Christmas but we were still able to get the work done and all is readiness for the "silly season" of golf that is this time of year.  One thing that I have noticed this year is just how long the once a year golfers take to play a shot which must be a result of watching the Pros play.  Apparently the Friday round at the recent Byron Bay Pro Am took in excess of 6 hours!!

The West putting green continues to develop and the cover was removed as planned on Tuesday.  It had quite a heavy top dressing of sand applied today and will probably receive its first mow late next week. 

The growth regulator has kicked in on the fairways just in time for the short working weeks ahead with the playing surface in great condition.  All the Course Improvement Plan areas received a heavy topdressing this week to help smooth out the surface.

Sanding turf

A special thanks to the people who took the time to say something to the ground staff and or send a card or beer down to us for the festive season.  You have no idea how appreciative the boys are of such gestures and it helps keep them motivated.

Breakfast for the crew

And John the wildlife photographer was back this week and his camera must be really good as it even makes the Ibis look good!!

An Ibis in full flight

Friday, December 18, 2015

The weeks just keep flying past and this one was no exception.  Five tonne of fertiliser was put out on the fairways and a couple of nice rainfall events have it watered in just nicely.  A plant growth regulator will be applied to the fairways next week to ensure that we don't get a mad surge of growth over the Christmas period and short working weeks ahead.

The West practice green is coming along quite nicely although there was some wash caused by the heavy rain last week end.  50mm of rain was recorded on Saturday night with not many other locations receiving anywhere near that amount.  Some solid turf was purchased and has been placed in these areas to try and prevent any further wash in future expected storms.  The cover will come off next Tuesday and then we start the main part of the grow in phase.

Members may have noticed an avid nature lover parked down behind 4W green recently.  His name is John and he is a keen photographer of wildlife around the Tweed and is particularly drawn to the Honey bee eaters that nest in the bunkers by burrowing a tunnel into the sand.  Here are just two of his photos which are nothing short of spectacular.

Incoming meal

In full flight

Friday, December 11, 2015

Another very busy week on the courses with the turf being laid at 7R green surround and the West practice green being planted.  The wind continues to play havoc with course preparation although at least now most of the bark has been stripped from the gum trees.  Another task completed this week was the trimming of the bunkers on the River course which consume just under 50 man hours on Thursday from a possible 104 hours for the day!!

The West greens surrounds have had some weed control applied which has resulted in a leaf tip burn that sees a temporary loss of color.  It looks like a good result at this early stage.

An unexpected 15mm in short time on Wednesday night caused some wash out at the practice green and then we were lucky to avoid the storm that blew through on Thursday evening.  The forecast for Friday evening and Saturday isn't good but hopefully we won't get rain heavy enough to wash the green away again.

Practice green after planting

It was interesting to see a photo of Jordan Spieth playing at Royal Melbourne on his recent trip to Australia and playing from the white tees of the day.  Great to see the world No. 1 respect his host club.  It's a pity a few of our players didn't have the same respect for the courses.  It does amuse me when you see the swings on some of the people playing from the back tees and I feel like suggesting that the yellow tees may be better suited to their game.  The two best players I have seen in my time at Cool Tweed, Scott Gardiner and Ben Gazal also had the same respect and I don't ever recall seeing either of them playing from anything but the tees of the day.  Food for thought perhaps?

The No. 1 @ RM

 The photo below looks like the bolt of lightning is about to demolish the golf ball on the roof of the clubhouse but it was just one of many that were lighting up the sky on Thursday evening!! 

A near miss??

Friday, December 4, 2015

An extremely busy week with the weather causing some disruption to the works program.
The West practice green has been removed and a new growing medium added with TifEagle due to be planted in the green on Tuesday.
Earthworks at 7R green have been completed with the turf due to be laid on Monday.  The area of bunkers on the hole has been reduced from 900 square metres down to 330 and the access to the front of the green widened.  As mentioned previously a system known as ProLiner was installed which virtually prevents the faces from washing away in a rain event and ensures drainage of the bunker.  It also prevent contamination of the bunker sand from rocks from below the surface.  Once the bunker is excavated out and new drainage installed an emulsion is sprayed on the surface to waterproof it.  15mm diameter stone is then spread evenly over the entire bunker and then the liner mix is applied over the entire bunker surface.  The sand is then distributed evenly over the top and after some compaction the bunker is ready for play.  The video below gives an excellent demonstration of just how much water can pass through the liner. 
The liner being installed
And then compacted



Friday, November 27, 2015

Well the summer temperatures are with us now with full scale irrigation taking place.  The wind makes accurate application nearly impossible so there is often back up water applied by hand in the early mornings. One nice change is that I only go to 17W green to see how well it is growing rather than how stressed it is from the heat!!

I had the opportunity to tour around Royal Pines this week in a walk and talk hosted by designer Graham Marsh and Course Super Lincoln Coombes.  It was very interesting to hear some of the ideas behind the design changes and the methods used and local council compliance issues.  Only one of the existing dams was altered which is at 16 which now requires a near full water carry to make the green which has some interesting contours.  Bunker size was reduced from 2.2 Ha to .67 Ha much to the relief of the crew!!  On the course side of things Lincoln and his crew have done an amazing job in getting the turf tournament ready.  He only runs a crew of 14 and will have those numbers during the tournament next week.  That compares to 50 preparing The Australian for the Aus Open this week!!

Tree root removal from fairways was the main task this week and in 2 days only the back 9 River and 18W were completed.  This will be ongoing as budget funds allow.  And the River greens have recovered very well from their renovation and are already back to normal mowing height although they seem longer as the leaf blade is so juiced up at the moment.

There has been no feedback on the various rakes placed on the 18W and R greenside bunkers as mentioned last week.  Then again so many people leave bunkers like this that maybe we don't need them??

No rake!!
Next week will see the start of the bunker works at 7R green where the front two bunkers will be reduced in size and the rear bunker removed.  The bunkers will also have the Proliner material installed as on the LHS 7W earlier this year.  A temporary green will be in play which hasn't had a lot of preparation due to only being needed for a few days.  Apologies in advance.

The West practice green will also be redone with the growing medium being removed and replaced and the planted with Tifeagle.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

A very busy week on the courses with the River course renovations completed.  The greens have come up particularly well with a smaller diameter tine used for the aeration lessening the damage and therefore recovery time.  The greens were de-thatched at minus 3 mm in up to 5 directions up and back on the same line which removed a huge amount of dead plant material and then were aerated with the cores left on to be rubbed back in to the surface.  The greens were then blown off with fertiliser applied and specially amended sand applied to finish them off.  All tees were also aerated and the cores rubbed back in and all fairways aerated.  All of this was achieved in 2 days which is a credit to the great work of the crew and the excellent weather.  There were 14 staff available on the day which compares to 22 for the River green renovations in 2009!

Aerating begins 

Material blown off the green

This came out of 15 green    

Finished result

Next time we have a school formal in the clubhouse we may need a fence around 18W green!!
Stilettos and bentgrass just don't mix!!  Then again it's one way to aerate the greens!!
Obviously a nice spot for a photo!! 

The bunkers on the18th green on both courses have got a variety of rakes in them to see if we can find a better one than those we currently have.  Hopefully you won't hit into the bunkers but if you do let me know what you think.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Quite a busy week on the courses with a number of irrigation issues rearing their head requiring some substantial repair works.  We operate a "hydraulic" type system which utilises water pressure to keep the valves on the sprinklers closed.  As that pressure is taken away the sprinkler pops up.  At present we have a problem with the supply line losing pressure somewhere and are trying to locate it.  We thought we had when a leak detector found a leak under a 6 foot high mound on the LHS of 10W fairway which rather than digging up the mound we re laid the pipe over the top of the mound.  This has helped but there must still be another leak out there somewhere causing some of the sprinklers to weep.

New trench line LHS 10W

Nearly 60mm of rain fell in the storms during the week which was most welcome, especially with some predictions of a drier than normal summer season ahead.

A number of holes have been left exposed tonight and they are the tapping locations for the sprinkler installation starting on Monday.  Having them already exposed gives us a great start to the process which will hopefully take two full days to complete.

The "anchoring ban" that was announced nearly 3 years ago comes in to force on January 1 2016 which is nearly "next month'!!  Although not many club golfers use the method this link takes you to US Golf Digests explanation of the ban which is quite informative and simple.  Just click your mouse over the link for it to appear.  

And I read this quote and liked it; "You know you're a golfer when you think its ok to wash your practice balls in the dishwasher at home"!!

Friday, October 30, 2015

Nearly 50mm of rain over the past week which was most welcome however the soil temperatures are still down so the grass is still not moving just yet.

Last Tuesday morning was dark, gloomy and showery so much so that very few ladies ventured out.  The club have engaged Airswing Media to do some filming of the course and Tuesday morning was the first days filming which didn't look very promising as the cloud stayed around.  But the weather cleared and Nick from Airswing was able to get some great photos and videos of the courses that will be used to promote the club.  He is coming back to get some more shots and the couple of samples sent through already are most impressive.  He uses a drone to do the work and it is a far cry from the old days of literally hanging out of a helicopter to get the shots. The video below shows Nick and the drone on 12R.

The tree clearing at the rear of 15R green last year has certainly paid dividends with the green surviving winter in the best condition I have seen it.  The other bonus was the condition of 4R tee which, even though the tree removal was carried out on the southern side, has also survived winter in "best ever" condition.  The tee has been re-turfed every year since I have been here but not this year!!
4R mens tee fully grassed

A busy time coming up on the courses in the next 6 weeks weather permitting.  Our first project is to extend the irrigation system out to provide coverage to the areas turfed earlier this year in the Course Improvement Plan (CIP).  Some preparation works will be conducted next week with the installation starting on Monday November 9.  Obviously there will be trenching involved but it will only be to the actual sprinkler location with a new Australian "radio wave technology" being used to remove the need to trench to the controllers as well.  Previously we would have needed to trench back to the controllers which is  a task in itself as the controllers have a lot of underground services nearby which always makes a trencher operator nervous!!

The week following is the River greens renovation and we are hoping for a great run with the weather as we had last year when the greens were heavily de-thatched, cored and lightly sanded and were then able to be mown three days later.

We will the take a breath for a week before completing Stage one of the CIP which involves removing the rear bunker at 7R and reducing the size of the front two bunkers and re-draining them.  The front two bunkers will have the "ProLiner" bunker liner material placed which prevents the bunkers from washing out in heavy rain and also stops contamination from soil and stone underneath.  We will need to play a temporary green for the week as it is impossible to conduct the works with play.  As we will only be closing for 5 days the temporary green may not be of the greatest quality but it will be the same for everyone.

Friday, October 23, 2015

The wind continues to blow and it makes you wonder just how many leaves the trees can produce to replace those that are on the ground.  We do have blades on our out-front rough cutters that mulch the leaves up and leave a clean result but the leaves are coming down so fast that you wouldn't think the mowers have been through there.  With so much debris about and small staff numbers we have to prioritise what we do each morning when the wind is lightest as far as clean up is concerned.  The greens are number one as the debris needs to be cleared to allow mowing to take place which is pretty much a daily occurrence. The tees are second as if you can't tee it up - you can't play!  After that it really depends on what else is happening play wise and requirements of other maintenance activities such as mowing and spraying.

We do have a blower that is used on fairways but the problem with that is that the debris is blown in to the rough to make the leaf litter problem even worse.  It is used though as it is fast.  The backpack blowers are used in the bunkers but again controlling where the leaves are blown to is nigh on impossible.  The main problem with the blowers is the noise they produce which means they can't be used early in the mornings and so are generally out amongst the play.  We do have a sweeper as well but the hopper fills very fast and needs to be emptied which obviously has to be in an out of play area.

It is a problem that we experience every year though and the worst is yet to come with some of the Eucalypts about to start shedding bark.  There's nothing better than inspecting the courses on an afternoon when the wind has been low and they are clean.  This afternoon however was not so pleasant given the volume of material on the ground.

The River greens are routinely "de-thatched" during the growth seasonand today our replacement implements were delivered.  They are an Australian made product which is very impressive and they are exported around the world and are by far the most superior de-thatcher available.  They fit on the greens mowers in place of the mowing heads and are adjustable from level to minus 5mm so a lot of material can be removed with not too much surface disruption.  This is a definition of "thatch" and the role of these implements is to remove it;  "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."  Keeping thatch under control is possibly the most important management consideration of couchgrass greens, in particular the variety Tifeagle.  In past years walk behind "scarifiers" have been used that cause quite severe disruption to the surface prolonging recovery.  That is when the term "tram lines" was once used.

New de-thatching head.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Nearly all fairways have now been liquid fertilised and the first ones done are already showing some growth with the warmer weather.  Soil temperatures are starting to rise which is the catalyst for the turf to really start moving.

The West greens also had some stress this week from the warmth and wind with some of the high spots drying out a little and requiring some back up water which is a sign that the weather has turned.  They are in excellent health at the moment with all the maintenance programs aimed at developing a strong root system which has been achieved heading in to summer.

Some trials were carried out on the couch practice green for the upcoming River greens renovation which proved successful so final plans are being made for that operation which happens on Monday and Tuesday November 16 and 17.

Friday, October 9, 2015

The passing of member Brian Wilson this week was a very sad event for a man who was a great supporter of the ground staff and always had a cheerful and encouraging word to say to us.  Brian had been a member for 45 years and it got me thinking of some of the changes and course conditions he would have endured and enjoyed during that time.  So I thought I would indulge a little with a retrospective look at some of the highs and lows over the years prior to my arrival in 1999.
9R green with old workshed on right in background.

Burnouts 8R green just prior to my arrival.

1W tee with old Pro Shop open in background.

Looking back from behind RHS 6R green.

Floods.  17W tee before boundary fence.

12R green struggling looking down the fairway.
Vale Brian.
Back to current times and the wind has certainly continued to create a challenge with debris all over the place and plant protectant spraying programs interrupted.  We got a good run at the courses on Friday with the rain scattering the players so were able to get some serious clean up happening.  The West greens were sanded on Thursday which was the final piece in what is their renovation.  A product was also applied for the control of foreign couchgrass in the West greens which as I have mentioned here previously works very spasmodically but is the only potential solution.
The burst of summer weather early in the week required a growth regulating product be applied to the River greens as they basked in the warming conditions and the fairways on both courses were also treated with the growth regulator at a low rate which helps eliminate the grass seedhead.  If only the "worm farmers" circa 1998/99 had some growth regulator, conditions like those below may have been avoided!!
9R fairway.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

The West greens have all but fully recovered from their renovation 3 weeks ago and are looking great.  Mowing height is back to normal and some growth regulator yesterday should help fine the leaf up in the next week.  The fertiliser that is applied during the renovation to aid recovery also lets the winter grass re-establish so that will be attended to in the coming weeks.  Fortunately there are only a handful of greens with any present.

The weather whilst warming up is still not enough to really get the turf moving, especially on the fairways.  We have started liquid fertilising fairways to give them some colour and stir up some growth.

The high winds of the past couple of weeks has a lot of leaf debris down and makes finding a ball in the rough difficult but we are trying to keep up with the mowing / mulching.

Last Sunday wasn't much fun when one of the irrigation controllers malfunctioned and several sprays came on and stayed on overnight.  13 West fairway which is probably the last fairway that needs extra water was flooded.  The irrigation controllers were installed in 2002 and have had very few problems in that time.

13W fairway under water     

Friday, September 25, 2015

The wind has certainly been the major player for course maintenance and playing the game this week.  Not only its strength but also the wind chill factor made it an uncomfortable week.  Only the one major tree came down which was late on Friday at the back of the first green.  The debris on the fairways detracts from the courses aesthetics and the number of leaves and branch debris in the roughs makes it most difficult to find golf balls.  The rotary outfront mowers were out in force on the roughs and fairways trying to clean up as much as possible.  They are fitted with "mulching blades" that smash up the leaves and debris leaving a much cleaner surface but the constant wind doesn't help.

Tree down

 Speaking of the wind, a website I have mentioned before - Willy Weather - has a few new features including a "wind rose" which plots the wind directions for the current month and the average over the past five years.  I knew we had a lot of southerlies but was surprised that wind from the south or SSW / SSE accounts for 37% of our wind compared with 20% from the north and NNE / NNW so nearly twice the number of southerlies.  Here's a link to the wind information;

The West greens have recovered very well from the renovation though repair of pitch marks is pretty disappointing with the greens badly scarred which further prolongs their recovery.  The mowing height is nearly back to normal but the lush growth still needs to slow down for the fine surface to return.  The ducks have been feasting on them leaving their droppings to interfere with play so I thought I would try the fake decoy Hawk but it unfortunately didn't work.  It certainly got the Magpies upset as can be seen in the video below from 12W green and is doing a fine job down on 5W green keeping the Cockatoos off the green.    

And Jason Day has set the golf world on fire of late but I got the screenshot below watching the golf this week and it shows just how dominant Tiger was at the peak of his game.  Astounding really. 

An extraordinary record


Friday, September 18, 2015

A very frustrating week trying to get the West greens mown down following their renovation last week.  The seemingly continual light showers were enough to affect the mowing as the turf needs to be bone dry to allow for a good cut and to prevent sand sticking to the rollers on the mowers for the first few mowings.  The sand finishes up caking on the rollers which then affects the height and quality of cut not to mention what it does to the bearings on the mowing heads.  The plan was to get out on Friday afternoon after the Members competition and give them a nice dry cut until the weather intervened and 25 mm of rain tumbled down in an hour from 11.30. The radar shot below has the yellow dot right over the top of the course at midday when it was nigh on torrential!!  Fortunately the wind dried the surfaces and I was able to get a full mow in dry conditions late in the afternoon.

The yellow marks the spot!!
We have had a few vehicles driving on the courses recently with one about 3 weeks ago driving through the bunker at the rear of 1R green and across the green.  The photo below shows the most recent visitors tyre marks on 13R green just pulling up short of the greenside bunker.  If only they had kept going as I doubt they would have got through given the steepness of the bunker.  Fortunately the actual turf surface has not been broken as of yet which is another benefit of couchgrass over bentgrass!!

13R green tyre marks.

Friday, September 11, 2015

The West greens renovation was completed earlier this week and two fine and sunny days certainly helped until the severe electrical storm that rolled in at 2.30pm on Tuesday afternoon which was just two hours early and has meant not all the sand has been rubbed in properly.  It also delayed the opportunity to fertilise the greens so the recovery will be a bit slower than normal.

The radar on Tuesday at 2.30pm showing the approaching storm.

The approaching storm

Even though the greens are renovated it is still just as important to repair pitch marks on them to assist in the surface returning to normal. 

In conjunction with the greens works the tees were also aerated and we were able to get over the fairways as well which was a huge effort by the staff and the task is made so much easier by having two full days to complete the works.  I realise it is not the most popular activity we carry out but is one of the most necessary for the health of the turf.

Next week the front of the West greens will be aerated and the holes left open to try and assist firming up these areas.  The greens need a bit more water and unfortunately the irrigation system isn't the most uniform so a lot of water finishes up where you don't really want it to go and the fronts of the greens are the worst for this.

The playing corridor from 3, 10 and 13 West tees were also widened while there was no play on the course.  All three had  grown in severely making the options for tee shots more difficult.  15 and 16 on the River course will be done next week weather permitting.  There were also several other large low hanging limbs removed whilst the contractors were on site.

Friday, September 4, 2015

The Toll Charity golf day has come and gone in a flash with a lot less paraphernalia on the golf courses compared to last year.  There were still four big prime movers dotted around the courses and unfortunately we got some damage when one of them was being removed.  Fortunately it's over the rear of 5R green where I don't think I have ever seen anyone play from!  It is quite a soft area of the course but quite a "safe" location for the truck.

Given the chart below I doubt there would be many "soft" courses on the West Coast of the USA given the intensity of drought highlighted.  Golf courses are doing it very tough over there and brings back memories of some very tough times in Australia not too many years ago.

The West greens renovation will take place commencing Monday and will consist of a hollow tyne with 5/8 inch diameter tynes followed by some amendments / fertiliser then a heavy sanding.  Root structure on the greens is still good and the renovation will only improve that situation.

We will also start aerating the fairways next week.  They haven't been done for a couple of years and are in desperate need.  It is not the "prettiest" result on the surface so the local rule for relief from "aeration holes" will need to be used. 

And a bit of trivia with my motorbike about to clock up 25,000 kilometres after just four years.  I'm sure glad its got a comfortable seat!!

Friday, August 28, 2015

A very tough week just gone with a flu outbreak amongst the course staff affecting numbers with only 5 on course staff available for Tuesday and Wednesday.  Despite this the efforts of the crew were outstanding in getting the courses up for the week ends play and in particular Round 3 of the Club Championships.  Fridays weather was just about perfect with a light breeze that allowed us to get the courses cleaned up  and clear from the tree and leaf debris.  I don't think anyone was at the Gold Coast show as both courses were packed to the rafters.

On Tuesday this week we installed a new method of irrigation control that has the potential to revolutionise irrigation in any situation but in particular golf courses, particularly those with a "hydraulic" system such as ours.  A hydraulic system means that water pressure is used to keep the sprinkler valves closed and therefore any loss of pressure means the sprinkler will pop up.  So any sort of leak or major pressure variation can cause havoc with sprinklers coming on unintentionally.  If there is a leak in the control lines you can try tracing it which on a sandy site proves difficult sometimes or you just have to replace the tube which means trenching from the sprinkler itself right back to the controller which can unearth all sorts of hidden obstacles.  This new system uses underground wireless communication from the controller to the sprinkler location within a 350 metre radius without any trenching which is simply amazing. 

Disc adjacent to field controllers

The transmitter is fitted close to the controller (under a 300mm aluminium disc) and the receiver is in the body of the sprinkler and we have currently installed 3 sprinklers.  There are 14 sprinkler locations on the greens where sprinklers have been removed or paired with another sprinkler to avoid the trenching so this control will allow us to attain much improved irrigation coverage.  It will also allow for extensions to the irrigated area as now we only need to get the irrigation pipe and a sprinkler to the area and no tubed control.  And absolutely best of all it's an Australian invention!!

The River greens were fertilised last week to try and get some colour in them and they have taken that up combined with the warm temperatures and are growing like I have never seen them before in August.  A plant growth regulator was applied this morning to try and curb the growth spurt.  The good news is that 13 R green has also responded and only has the very rear edge still weak.  The presence of some sandflies this week indicates that spring has already well and truly sprung!

And with the amount of social play on the West course today there were some temper tantrums demonstrated that could well have resulted in this;

About the only thing I haven't seen on a golf course....yet!!

Friday, August 21, 2015

I wrote this piece last week and forgot to properly load it to the Blog so it will be this weeks post with all the information still pertinent.  Hopefully the rain up on the Sunshine Coast doesn't make it this far down and spoil the party that is round 2 of the Club Champs.

The beautiful weather continues but it's not enough to get the grass moving again although it provides great golfing conditions.

I drove past 12R green on Tuesday at 9am and noticed the full sunlight the green was receiving and then drove back up to 13R to compare.  The photo below demonstrates the intense shade that 13R is subjected to.  No Couchgrass can grow successfully in shade such as this so we will just manage it as best we can.  The very back edge of 12R is still affected by shade later in the day and is the reason it is so thin at the rear.

12R green @ 9am.

13R green same day same time same sun angle.

New Maroochy River course.

I got the opportunity to play the new Maroochy River GC (formerly Horton Park) on Friday and came away very impressed.  The new course opened on May 30th and has been getting a lot of play but has taken it very well.  The greens were grassed with Tifeagle and were putting very nicely.  Considering it was built on a an old cane farm the undulation created is just enough to present a challenge without being too over the top.

Friday, August 7, 2015

An absolutely superb week of weather which is to be expected for the Vets week of golf on with history showing one wet day in 14 years and the majority have been weeks such as this.  The courses have been packed to the rafters with players and congratulations to the Vets organisers and volunteers who do so much to keep the fields moving.  Also congratulations to the players on their care of the course.  It's such a stark contrast when compared to the Twin Towns Open for example last Sunday when the greens were left peppered with unrepaired pitch marks and litter left all over the courses.  I have toured the courses each evening after the Vets have finished and found 2 unrepaired pitch marks over all the greens and nothing left out of place.  Even the sand buckets at 11 West tee carpark were neatly stacked!

It's amazing how quickly the courses have dried out now with quite substantial irrigation required on the greens in particular.  All the recently turfed areas needed some water today and while it's nice to see the warmth it could make for a long irrigation season.

As mentioned last week soil samples have been taken from selected West greens to establish what amendments will be added at renovation.  13R green was also sampled to check on its progress.  One of the goals of the autumn / winter maintenance program on the West greens has been the development of a strong root system and this will be further addressed at the renovation.  The photo below shows some strong growth from a plug on 13W green which was one of the hardest hit greens last summer.  This depth of about 6 inches is pretty representative across all the West greens which is very encouraging.  It's a long way from my excitement when I had a paltry single one inch of root recovery in January in the other photo below!!  As mentioned last summer when the soil temperatures reach extreme levels as they do here then the roots just can't keep going.

Good root growth on 13W

Not so good roots in January!

Friday, July 31, 2015

A couple of staff on leave this week left numbers very low on the courses but with low growth pressure we got through.  The glorious fine weather has certainly bought the players out with Friday being one of the busiest days I have seen on the courses.  A full Medal day tomorrow followed by the Twin Towns Open and then the Vets week of golf will cap off an incredibly busy period of golfing.

The West course greens renovations have been moved back a week and will now take place on Monday and Tuesday September 7 and 8.  The Ladies September Medal moves back to the 1st.  The West greens are rolling beautifully at the moment but will certainly appreciate the renovation and a breath of fresh air and some old fashioned fertiliser as part of the renovation.  Soil tests will be taken next week to determine just what needs to be added to the greens during the process.

The photo below is of the official group of volunteers at this years Open Championship.  The group assist with set up and are then assigned to a group of players as "course quality officials" who rake bunkers and clean up inside the ropes as they go.  They raked 209 bunkers on Thursday and then did 163 bunkers in total during round two, 70 during round three and 80 in the final round giving an overall total of 523 bunkers needing attention for the week.  It is a great experience and one that you apply for a long time in advance.

The Open volunteers

And an amazing story from Victoria of a 100 year old lady still playing the game at Torquay GC  and walking!!

Saturday, July 25, 2015

The old saying of "it never rains but pours" can hardly ring truer at the moment.  After finally drying out earlier this week the courses have received 110mm with a totally unexpected 19mm falling on Friday night.  I got the photo below last Monday and thought that the rain gauge that the Kookaburra is sitting on was pretty much only good for birds to perch on but how wrong was that later in the week?

Kookaburra sits on the empty rain gauge!

Motorised buggies have been off for the week pretty much and it is a call that I am entrusted to make and one that causes much angst as the effect on players golfing enjoyment and the club's finances are seriously affected.  I generally have a look at the courses the night before while there is still some daylight then reassess at about 4.45 am the next morning.  The West course is generally a fairly easy decision with holes 2, 12, 13, 14 and 16 the first ones to be looked at.  On the River course holes 1 and 9 are always a problem but I then look at the rest of the fairways and if a majority are going to sustain damage from motorised buggy traffic then the decision is based on that.  The time of year is also a factor as at the moment the potential for the courses to dry out quickly is minimal as is the potential for recovery from damage which again at this time of year is minimal.  The days forecast is also considered with respect to further rainfall.  The status of motorised buggies is updated by 5.30 am on the website under the "course conditions" tag at the top of the page.  Please be assured that it is not a decision that is taken lightly and has caused me many a sleepless night.

The deep aerator was out during the week trying to move some of the puddles and surface water but with little success particularly with more rain coming down.  The couple of solid tine aerations that the greens received have helped them dry out and the putting surface is very good considering the weather.  13R green has not been mown for two weeks and is still struggling with the shade and 17W is still powering along and the Tifeagle impresses me more and more by the day.  The turf on the green is only five and a half months old but is withstanding the play very well given the time of year.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Not very much to report on the courses this week although it's certainly nice to see the courses drying out.  The River greens were mini solid tine aerated on Monday to allow for some much needed air exchange.  The greens will also be "verti drain" aerated next week which is a deeper solid tine which will penetrate 20cm or around 8 inches.

13R green continues to struggle in the shade and the mowers have now been taken off the green for the foreseeable future but with the low growth there shouldn't be too much interference to play.

Winter grass control on the West greens commenced this week and that is the reason behind the slight discoloration in them although the putting surface is great at the moment with plenty of pace and nice firmness.

The Open Championship starts next week at the home of golf St Andrews.  Having recently visited there I am looking forward to seeing how the course plays now that I have some local knowledge.  It will definitely be a stark contrast to Chambers Bay and the recent US Open as Scotland is enduring its wettest June on record and the Old Course is very green.  The photo below shows some recent local flooding but the site is so sandy that most of the water would be gone very quickly.

Water everywhere at St Andrews

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Apologies for the 2 week absence but a combination of little to report and my attendance at the Australian Turf Conference last week kept me away from the typewriter!  

Well I don't think anyone could imagine the fallout that came with the US Open @ Chambers Bay as mentioned in my last post with the golfing world seemingly divided on the condition of the course.  Four weeks out the course was almost verdant green but an unusually warm and dry period obviously really baked the layout.  The USGA had adopted a policy that they wanted firm and fast which is what they got and they had the experience of the US Amateur in 2010 in their mind where conditions did get away from them.  There were a couple of Australians on the support crew and their comments were that it looked a lot better on the ground than on TV.  Having said all that the best player in the world at the moment won which is what they are after.

Back home and the rain is finally taking a break.  Rain was recorded on 17 days in June which must be some sort of record as it is normally a reliably dry month.  I don't think I have seen the course as soggy as it was this week and motorised buggies had to be kept off to protect the turf which has no real growth / recovery potential at this time of year.  The conditions of humidity and cloud cover doesn't favour Couch greens so any of the stressed areas are even further stressed.  The rear of 13R green is really struggling with the shade which when you consider that the seven month old turf was growing in full sunlight and being mown at 10mm in a paddock in Caboolture and is now being mown at 5mm in heavy shade by a salt water river is not really surprising.  One only has to look at the condition of 15R green now that it has almost full sunlight following the removal of the trees at the rear. The positive news regarding Couch greens is the continued progress of the Tifeagle on 17W green in its predominantly sunny position.

All other areas on the courses are over wintering quite well thus far and that will hopefully continue.  Following the problems with the West greens over summer there has been an increase in the amount of Winter Grass in the greens and this will be addressed in the coming weeks to ensure the health of the greens heading in to next summer.  I took the opportunity this week to give the West greens another solid tine and the River greens will be done next week.  This operation does not overly interfere with the playing surface but virtually gives the greens a breath of fresh air.  All the River course tees and some of the West were verti-drain aerated this week which is the deep tining machine and again something that was desperately needed for the health of the tees.

Solid tining West greens

Verti drain aeration (deep) on tees

And just when I thought I had seen everything, one of the cows that are agisted on the other side of the entry road escaped yesterday and was heading towards Minjungbal Drive where all hell could have broken loose.  Then he turned around and headed up towards the clubhouse and then on to the course once the security fence finished.  Fortunately he only strayed over a couple of fairways so damage was minimal.  I would hate to see the damage that could occur on a green!!

Unwanted visitor RHS 1W.