Friday, March 25, 2016

Well I think I can safely say we are now past summer.  The days are a lot shorter now and the dews are heavy and staying around longer despite the beautiful sunny days and pleasant temperatures.  It still hasn't dropped below 20 degrees overnight yet but it won't be long.  The courses have come through summer in great condition, in particular the West greens considering the age of most of them and grass type.  The staff have certainly stepped up to the plate with an average of just 11.3 staff on the golf courses each day since January 1.  How they have been able to keep up is a testament to their work ethic and they are all to be congratulated.

There will be some tree work being performed over the next two weeks with dead and dangerous trees being removed commencing next week.  The following week will see tree removal around 3W green to allow more light to reach the green and surrounds.  You only need to look at the improvement in turf quality around 4R tee, 5W green and 9W green following tree removal adjacent to these areas over the past few years.  All stumps will be ground and re-filled as part of the operation.

And speaking of trees the photo below shows a trench line that was cut as part of the sprinkler installation to the CIP areas on 2W.  It demonstrates just how much the tree roots pull out of the fairways with such a distinct line.

No tree roots on the left anymore!

Friday, March 18, 2016

A pretty tough week on the courses this week with another 80mm of rain falling.  The courses are still pretty wet from the rain earlier in the month so are taking a bit longer to dry out but the one thing in our favour is the strong growth meaning good turf recovery from the wear.  The West greens are still struggling with the continuing heat and their root structure and depth is very poor so the sooner these high temperatures move on the better.  It's extraordinary to think that on the other side of the country, Perth have had just 15mm of rain since November!!

The week was made even tougher with desperately short staff numbers.  Two full time employees are on annual leave and so a couple of casuals had their hours raised to cover but various ailments have meant that there has been a lot of time off.  508 hours were to be worked on the roster this week but with the time off this was slashed to 403 hours worked - a 20% reduction.  At this time of year and with the damage from the rain it means a lot of work didn't get done.

The weather bureau put out a "special climate update" this week covering the prolonged March heatwave that is affecting many parts of Australia.  There have been all sorts of day and night time temperature records broken including the "Australian area - averaged maximum temperature" that was a whopping 38.14° on March 2nd which beat the previous record from 1966.  No wonder the bent greens are still struggling!  Here is a link to the full update;

And if you think some of the bunkers at Cool Tweed are tough take a look at this beauty at Royal North Devon I found this week!!      

Friday, March 11, 2016

Just when I thought the West greens had gotten through summer relatively unscathed they stressed out this afternoon requiring quite extensive back up water to be applied to them.  It was most of the normal places but a few new areas as well.  

I purchased a "soil moisture sensor" late last year and this has been an invaluable tool in managing the greens through summer by taking the guess work out of when and how much irrigation is required.  It has been interesting talking to other superintendents around the country and the figures that they strive for.  Here on the Tweed the West greens get to wilting point at 24% of plant available water which is where areas on greens 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 12, 16, and 18 got to this afternoon.  The River greens on the other hand regularly sit in the mid twenties and as low as 12% without any sign of stress.  The Tifeagle on  17W and the practice green have been as low as 7% and still maintain a healthy sward.  Hopefully the weather cools soon and the West greens can take a sigh of relief (and me too).

The photo below shows the read out on the screen from 75mm long probes.  Its a bit blurry but the top line indicates "Standard Volumetric Water Content" (VMC) % = 9.0.  NO. 17 on the bottom line is the number of locations probed and A is for the average of those areas which is 8.7%.  The photo further down shows the Tifeagle in perfect health.  I would hate to think what a bentgrass green would look like at the same level!!
Read out on soil moisture sensor
Healthy Tifeagle

A major irrigation break earlier in the week resulted in a huge hole being hand dug in quite uncomfortable weather conditions.  It was on Tuesday when we were getting some showers coming through so fortunately didn't impact on the course too much.  The irrigation lines almost had to be drained completely and then took nearly four hours to refill back up to pressure again.

On the track between 13 and 14 West.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Well the forecast of rain was accurate and this time I missed on getting some fertiliser out!!  It was 100mm of the most welcome rain as the courses were really starting to dry out.  Although it was heavy at times I would estimate about 70% of it soaked in and has already had a dramatic effect on the grass growth.  The other bonus was that not too much work time was lost which can often be the case.  It did unfortunately wash the bank of the new practice green again and I am contemplating whether to turf this small area to rid us of this problem. 

The low wind speed of the last couple of days gave us the chance to blow all the debris out of the bunkers and give them a rake which after such a heavy rain was very much needed.  However it makes you wonder why we bother when this greets you within an hour of the bunker being raked.

Why do we bother....