Friday, January 29, 2016

Hopefully the storm that's on the way doesn't cause too much grief.  The rain will certainly be welcome across the courses though.  All the main playing areas are in excellent health at this stage of summer and providing great playing surfaces.  The rough is long I know but it is an annual problem at this time of year with the heat and moisture about.

I did get a suggestion this week that the height be dropped in the rough areas and gave the following response;
As discussed we use “mulching” blades on our outfront rotary mowers which do a very good job with the sticks, twigs and leaves that litter the roughs and leave a very clean surface.  Their quality of cut is slightly less than the normal blades but the normal blades wear very quickly with the amount of debris in the roughs.  Plus we just can’t keep up with the growth (or the leaf litter) at this time of year.
The mowing area of our Intermediate mowers has been extended to allow the rough cutters to spend more time in the trees.  These are precision cut units and can’t operate around tree roots.
Tree roots are the reason we can’t lower the height of the rough as suggested as we are currently only mowing just above the height of exposed tree roots.  LHS 11W fairway is a very good example of the exposed roots.

The tree roots are the issue as substantial damage would be caused to the machines if the height was lowered and the blades came in contact with more roots.  You can often see where the roots have already been "scalped" by the mowers which isn't a good thing for the mowers.

Two new electric greens rollers arrived today to replace our 6 year old existing units.  They are made by Tru Turf whose head office is just up the road in Arundel and owned and operated by Australians Ray and Dorothy.  They have owned the company over 30 years and a lot of their early trial work was done onsite here at Coolangatta Tweed.  Their machines are sanctioned for use by the US PGA Tour for their events and are used on courses such as Augusta National, Pebble Beach, St Andrews and this years Ryder Cup venue Hazeltine.  So we're in good company!!

Waiting to be unloaded
Works have commenced at the main pump shed on 12W dam to extend the floor area of the shed to allow for the installation of a treatment system to further purify the water we receive from the Council for irrigation.  The water is already of the highest quality and this system will make it even better.  Unfortunately it will raise the salt content of the applied irrigation water but we we are complying with Council requests.  Somewhat ridiculously, a DA was required to extend the shed by the 3.6 metres!!  New exterior walls and roof replacing the existing asbestos materials will also be part of the project. 

Extension and much needed spruce up!


Friday, January 22, 2016

A really busy week on the courses with a lot achieved but unfortunately the wind returned and as well as messing the place up has dried out the courses considerably.  As I have mentioned before the wind renders the irrigation system just about useless and this week is no exception. It is particularly hard to get even coverage on the greens in particular so areas do finish up being over watered and the greens are soft in places, particularly the West greens with the root system struggling against the soil temperatures.  We took the opportunity this week to give the greens a "needle tine" which is now becoming known as "venting" as you are doing just that - allowing air to enter the root zone.  I have always been cautious of this practice as the greens can turn blue very quickly at this time of year and stress to the limit.  Fortunately they got through well this week and with a light roll straight after you wouldn't know we had been there.  The River practice green was also done to give it some relief as it is taking all the practice at the moment.

Needle tine and roll on the River PG.

And speaking of the irrigation system being useless it certainly was earlier in the week when the Council plant had an electrical fault and no water was available for us for 48 hours so it was greens and tees only!!

As mentioned above the West greens are a lot softer at this time of year particularly in the mornings, however the pitch marks are non other than disgraceful.  The photo below is of 15W this morning and virtually no attempt has been made to repair any of these marks.

How does anyone ever make a putt?????

And you know it is hot when the Goannas come out to play!!  This one is regularly seen crossing 6R fairway. 
6R resident!

Friday, January 15, 2016

A very welcome and somewhat unusual cool change late today brings some respite for the West greens.  This is the time of year that they stress the most with high overnight temperatures maintaining soil temperatures putting pressure on the already frail root system.  Having said that they are in excellent condition for this time of year as is the Tifeagle on 17W which is absolutely thriving in the conditions along with the new practice green.

Unfortunately gale force winds accompanied the change which was a shame as the courses were both in as good a condition as I have seen them which has also been the feedback from the players which is also nice to hear.  Considering due to leave and sickness there were only 11 crew on the courses from Wednesday the staff earn a great pat on the back.

It always nice to see some wildlife on the courses and two Rosellas have taken up residence at the base of a Fig tree next to 14W tee which may not be the safest place!!

Emerging from the nest

And while much of Australia swelters this is the scene at Hazeltine in Minneapolis who will host the Ryder Cup in late September.  An amazing contrast!!

Friday, January 8, 2016

A very strange week of weather along the entire East Coast of Australia with lashings of rain affecting most of the coastline.  Fortunately for us it was not that bad with 70mm falling compared with 48mm at the airport.  This was on top of the 70mm that fell in the last 7 days of 2015.  The courses were already wet and unfortunately motorised buggies were off the West course on Wednesday but things quickly turned around with the West greens needing some back up irrigation on Thursday afternoon!!

It was nice to see the sun again on Tuesday afternoon for a little while after a very cloudy Christmas / New Year period.

Some blue sky at last!!

2015 finished the year with 2,220mm against an average for the Tweed Heads site of 1700mm.

We were able to get some fertiliser out on to some tees this week so the rain was very timely for this and the goal now is to get as much grass as possible on the tees in preparation for the winter months.  It may seem strange to be talking about winter already but that's just the nature of looking after plants as you have to give them the best possible help to cope with the climatic conditions that will come up.

The West practice green continues to develop and has had 4 mowings and was heavily top dressed today to start the leveling process.  At this rate it could well be opened at nine or ten weeks with just the banks a little thin.

The River greens received a much needed de-thatching this week which is the process that removes a lot of dead and dying plant material.  It is a six man operation which was half of my staff on Tuesday but is a very important process in preparation of the putting surface.  We normally try and do it weekly through the growing season but with the holidays and short working weeks hadn't been able to do it for the past 3 weeks.

Friday, January 1, 2016

The door has now closed on 2015  and a new one opened in what will be my 17th year at the club.  It really has been a whirlwind time with so many positive things happening over the journey.  The weather seems to always be the dominant factor in all we do on the courses and obviously in the playing of the game. 

This Blog averages 75 hits a day with a peak up to 95 on Fridays when I normally post.  Over December there were visits from around the globe including - Australia, USA, France, Poland, Canada, Germany, UK, NZ, Portugal and Ukraine.  Many are referred to it from Google when performing a search and the most popular for that is the posts on "root pruning and or tree removal" showing that trees and grass are competitors around the world.

The busiest time for local visits is when the weather intervenes which is an all too often occurrence and hopefully we get a break from that this year.  The weather has certainly been variable over the past couple of years with the summer of 2013/14 the driest on record with just 140mm of rain followed by the 2014/15 summer being the third wettest with 1,281 mm falling.  Out of interest the summer of 1955/56 was the wettest when 1,581 mm of rain fell followed by 1905/06 with 1,345 recorded.  1956 was the wettest year on record with 3,195 mm recorded and was also the year of the "Big Flood" as it is known for Tweed Heads although a cyclone did make land in February 1954 when 884 mm was recorded but was surpassed in 1956 when 898 mm fell which is nearly an incredible 36 inches in the old terms!!

But back to the courses and the weather has already intervened this year with a very wet and humid conditions over the Christmas break which resulted in one of the worst outbreaks of disease I have seen on the West greens.  By contrast the Tifeagle on 17W and the River greens have been largely unaffected.  A New Year ring around to some of my peers reassures me that we are not alone in the disease stakes but certainly had a lot more rain than most with 70 mm recorded for the five days after Christmas Day.

Disease on 8W