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