Friday, November 25, 2016

The end of the back nine West greens Tifeagle conversion has now been reached with the planting of 12W and a nursery green area today.  Most of this week was spent on tidying up the construction areas while we waited for the stolons to arrive for 12W.  The bunker at the front of 17W was also filled slightly on the LHS to allow players to run the ball up and on to the green.

It has been an exhausting 8 week construction period and we are slightly ahead of schedule and most importantly on budget.  A project like this is not possible without the approval and support of the Club's Board and then the support of the members which has been nothing short of amazing.  I have only heard positive comments from players which given the disruption to the course is very encouraging.  I would also like to take this opportunity to thank the following people;
  • The Club's ground staff who have put in an enormous effort over the period with some very long hot laborious days.
  • The machinery operators which are the father and son combination of Trevor and Chicka King.  Probably the best operators I have ever seen on golf course construction and they are a pleasure to work with, let alone the excellent product they produce as a result of their talent.
  • Action Sands at Chinderah who supplied the sand and expertly blended the top growing medium for us.  Whenever I called there was never a problem for Phil as far as loading the trucks to get the sand here was concerned.
  • Brims Transport who got the sand to site and in particular their operations manager Tony who juggled the trucks around to ensure that we were never waiting for sand.  "Righto Pete I'll see what I can do" was his usual response to my up to six times a day calls.  He never missed once with getting the trucks here on time and even jumped in a truck himself on a few occasions.
  • Twin View Turf who are the licensed Australian suppliers of TifEagle and John Shaw in particular for ensuring the stolons and turf all arrived on time and in excellent health.  Also to their turf laying crews whose work is of a very high standard and they are always co-operative.
  • And the various suppliers of fertilisers, soil testing, irrigation equipment, drainage materials and the growth blanket. 
So now the growing in period really starts and all the greens have had a tremendous strike rate and are filling in very quickly.  I am very confident that we will get them back in to play ahead of schedule.

Planting 12W at last.

Alterations to 17W bunker

Elsewhere on the courses we are starting to dry out again and on the lookout for some much needed rainfall.  A couple of trees were removed this week including one that had died on the RHS of 2R and the large tree on the LHS 14W which had been struck by lightning last week and had quite a dangerous split down the middle and was potentially very dangerous.  That reminds me of a former Course Super who called his chainsaws "thunder and lightning".  When he would remove a tree and have a member query its removal he would reply " ahh thunder and lightning got it'!!

Dead tree now gone RHS 2R.

LHS 14W tree on the way down.

And there is no rest in sight with the River course greens renovation taking place next Monday and Tuesday.  Always two long days and not the days that any rainfall is required.  About 20mm at 7pm on Tuesday night would be ideal!!

Sunday, November 20, 2016

The weather has continued to favour the works on the West greens TifEagle conversion still powering along and approaching an end.  The second major storm that hit the courses last Saturday again caused little or no damage to the new surfaces which was a great relief.  18W was finished off and was planted today with 12W having nearly all the final shaping done.  Unfortunately the plant material will not be available until next Friday so planting will be delayed until then and a greens nursery (spare turf) will also be developed next week.  14W also had its cover removed this week.

I have had several questions about the planting method and the "stolons" are just small pieces of grass that are planted and kept wet until such time as thay have taken root.  Not unlike taking a cutting off an azalea and growing it on but in this case there are tens of thousands of pieces of plant material.

12W presented some challenges with a very shallow growing medium and no gravel layer.  The decision was made to dig down through the drainage to make the depth consistent with the other greens and re-install the drainage and also a gravel layer.  The green must have previously been located in what would have been a grove of trees with a large number of stumps evident, particularly on the LHS.  There were also some massive tree roots which are the biggest yet encountered on the project.

Next week we take a breath and get ready to plant 12W on Friday and do quite a bit of cleaning up around the place as well as get in to some serious greenkeeping on the developing greens.  It has been interesting to note that 11W which was planted 8 days after 13W is in front in its development.  This could be put down to the afternoon shade that 13W receives which will be something to monitor.

The couchgrass on the surrounds is certainly enjoying the extra moisture and fertiliser and that coupled with no golfers trampling it down has it growing profusely and sending runners in to the greens which are now being trimmed to stop such encroachment.

11W in full sunlight @ 3.30pm.

The shade starting to roll across 13W at the same time.

Uncovering 14W

One of the tree roots growing in from the RHS 12W

A collection of tree roots from 12W
Foreign couch running in to the new greens

First load of top blend in to 12W
Final roll on 12W

Friday, November 11, 2016

Works continue on the West greens TifEagle conversion with 10 receiving a tweak earlier in the week and 18 being completed with just the clean up to go.  One of my fears was realised this week with a rain event occurring which has the potential to cause severe wash out of the greens.  The storm that rolled through on Thursday afternoon dropped 28mm in no more than 15 minutes then backed up with another quick 10mm for a total of 38.  The rain was as heavy as you could get and the greens all came through with what could only be described as minimal damage.  The other bonus was the new work to the LHS of 18W prevented the bunkers from washing out which normally would have happened with such heavy rain.

The rain was very welcome on another front as the fairways were on the edge and nearly as dry as I have seen them in my time here.  Another really good photo demonstrating the effect of the root pruning on RHS 11R below.

Back to the greens and the cover was removed from 11W after 19 days and the green was mown immediately at 7mm which was a great start.  11, 13 and 16 were all given a heavy sanding which is an important part of the program to get the greens in play.

Another good root pruning success.
Heavy sanding on 11W

An outbreak of disease on 12W - something I wont miss!

Final trim and roll on 18W
Just poking its head out
Off to see the world!

The two photos above are of a baby Rainbow Lorikeet  that has nested in a hollow in a tree close by one of the irrigation controllers.  The top photo was one week before the bottom one and it successfully flew away into the world.  Having your office in amongst Mother Nature is seriously one of the perks of the job!!

Friday, November 4, 2016

The seeming whirlwind that is the West greens TifEagle conversion rolled on this week with 10W being completed and ready for planting next Tuesday.  It did slow us up as the drainage was replaced as well as the gravel layer to try and keep the new growing profiles the same.  Up to 850 mm was excavated from the green and the bulk of the drainage was 700mm deep encased in what could only be described as marine mud/clay.  Once again I doubt much water ever got to the drainage especially with the material that was below the two upper layers that was virtually impervious.  All of the material in the green was unusable and was trucked to the left side of 6R where a few mounds were installed to help hide the tree debris dumping area.  15 was successfully planted on Tuesday and both 13 and 16 received their first mowing and subsequent heavy sanding.

18 is next on the list and an access "road" has been built to allow the trucks to get up to the green which should be completed comfortably next week.  Alterations will be made to the front and mid left of the green surround to assist in diverting run off water from the green washing out the bunkers.  The mid left bunker will also be removed as part of the planned works.

Planting day for 15

The extraordinary profile on 10

First mow for 13
The road to 18

Elsewhere on the course and things are very dry and in need of some rain with unfortunately none in the forecast period.  The benefit of root pruning in August is showing up with some distinct lines showing where the areas with no tree roots are still hanging in quite well.

Root pruning result LHS 11R
And as I mentioned a couple of weeks ago the benefit of greens renovation has really been shown with the recent dry and last couple of days of heat.  The front nine West greens are all hanging in exceptionally well with good root structure whereas the two remaining back nine greens - 12 and 18 - are full of dry patch stress areas.  Bring on the TifEagle!!