Friday, February 26, 2016

At last a couple of days of light wind and a chance to clean the tree debris off the fairways.  It makes such a difference to see the courses without all the leaf litter although the forecast is for strong southerlies starting up again tomorrow.  Hopefully the forecast of the chance of some rain comes true because the courses are very dry.  A couple of issues at the Council water treatment plant reduced our flows this week and for two nights only very select fairways areas were able to be irrigated.

You know it's dry when you can see the drainage lines

I mentioned last week that I thought the courses were potentially in the best condition I have seen them and I think they may have even improved a tad more this week.  It's been very pleasing to hear the many comments from members and players complimenting the crew on just how good the courses are and thanking them for their efforts.

And the view from 2 River tee doesn't get much better than this on Thursday just before lunch.  The water was crystal clear and blue as could be.  Unfortunately as I turned around the sprinklers started coming on after the builders at the pump shed broke a water line which took pressure off the sprinkler control system so a beautiful day turned nasty for a little while until repairs were carried out.
Beautiful one day - perfect the next??

Friday, February 19, 2016

27 degrees and 80% humidity greeted us this morning at 5.00am in the compound and the day just got worse until a bit of late cloud cover seemed to cool it although as I type this at 5.00pm it's still 29 degrees and 70%.  One word - uncomfortable!!  There were still lots of players out there though enjoying the courses that are in probably the best condition I have seen them for this time of year with the West greens in particular holding on well.  The crew are to be congratulated, as they were at knock off time today.

The Couch encroachment into the West greens is always topical at this time of year as it is so obvious with the Bentgrass at its weakest and the Couch its strongest.  The only product available to control the Couch is both very expensive and spasmodic in its results.  Timing is critical and at this time of year once soil temperatures start to drop is the optimum time so we will be waiting until then  to treat.

The Tifeagle practice green came in to play today ten weeks after planting which is a great result.  The leaf of the grass still needs to become a bit finer and it will need a few more light sandings but will give the other practice green some relief as it is struggling coping with all the play.

The "Eagle" looking good!!

And a bit of luck today with one of the fairway mowers hitting a bolt whilst mowing and surviving!!  This would normally potentially mean a new bottom blade and potentially a reel which are expensive but also time consuming to repair which is something we haven't really got with the current growth rates.  We have nearly 36 hectares of fairways which is a lot (most 18 hole courses have 14 - 16 hectares) of area to get mown in amongst the play so any down time is a worry.  Fortunately this wasn't the case and mechanic Craig was rather relieved that the damage wasn't more substantial.  The bolt was about 40mm long and impossible to see in the grass so this was a lucky one.

The guilty bolt

Friday, February 12, 2016

With only a couple of days lost to sick leave and no annual leave this week the crew was at just about full strength and it certainly shows on the courses.  The old staffing mark for the courses prior to my arrival was 22 for summer and this week for four days I had 14 including myself on the courses and that number dropped to 12 on Wednesday.  It's a credit to the crew the work they put in and what is achieved week to week with such low numbers on such a big property.  If only the wind would take some leave and give us a chance to not have to be continually cleaning up tree debris and leaves.

Massive tides this week saw water inundating the short range and parts of 1 and 9 River fairways.  In front of the chipping green where the water lays is a patch of a grass known as Sea Isle.  It is a salt water resistant variety and as can be clearly seen in the photos is much more resistant to the almost pure sea water that pushed in on the fairway than the normal couchgrass turf.

Tidal water

Salt burn on couchgrass

Some herbicide was applied to the fairways this week, predominantly on the River course and players will notice a distinct dis-coloration of the turf for the next week or so.  Not only are the desired grasses enjoying the heat and moisture of summer but the weeds are too.  With the constant wind over the past few months one issue is being able to spray and on the days that are suitable to spray the target has to be prioritised with the greens obviously most important so some times the weeds may be getting out of hand but it is safety first with all spray applications.  

And 17W green turned 1 year old this week!  The Tifeagle is settling in very well and providing an excellent putting surface with no hint of stress from the summer weather conditions or volume of play.  The firmness of the green is easing and the green in general should continue to improve.  The Tifeagle practice green is nine weeks old this week and apart from the wash on the southern banks has established particularly well.  It received the last "heavy" sanding today which should help achieve the final levels.

Friday, February 5, 2016

I seem to be starting every post off with "It's been another hectic week on the courses" but it certainly has been this week.  The pump shed extension has continued and will make for a more functional building than what was there before.  I often refer to the pump shed as the "heart" of the golf club as it pumps the much needed water out to the courses almost non stop.  This pump station was installed in 2000 and has barely missed a beat since.  It consists of 2 x 40 HP motors and 4 x 80 HP motors and is capable of pumping 4,000 litres of water per minute and a full irrigation cycle in summer will see 1.2 million litres pumped onto the courses.

Whilst talking irrigation 2 new sprinklers were placed at the rear of 7R green to pick up the 2 new mounds where the rear bunker once was.

The fairways are growing faster than I have ever seen them with the 100mm of rain last Friday sending them surging.  A plant growth regulator is used on them and is normally applied every four weeks.  The last two applications have only lasted three weeks each which I haven't seen before.  There is a patch in the middle of 13R fairway that has deliberately not been sprayed on the last two occasions to allow for comparison.  The color and thickness of the turf compared to the surrounding turf is quite amazing.

Lush growth mid 13R fairway

The new practice green is progressing well and is now down to greens mowing height and just requires some more mowing to fine the leaf up.  It's pretty impressive for eight weeks old!!