Friday, March 16, 2018

Well the rain seems to have stopped for the moment after 18½ inches since January 28!!  The water table is just about as high as it can get and not dropping which is a little unusual.   With this amount of heat, humidity and moisture I am certainly glad that there were no Bentgrass greens to cope with it as I doubt they would have survived it.   
It is amazing just how well the course takes the water though and I remember Doug Robinson and Jeff Gambin (both former CTHGC Supers) coming to visit me when I was at Victoria back in the 1980's and they were telling me about the massive drainage project they were undertaking at CTHGC using 900mm pipe in sections.  Considering I barely had any drainage piping installed at Victoria I thought they were crazy but thank heavens they did as it is still just as effective today.  That's the system that runs from the dam on 11W across 3W, 4R, 5R and 6R to the dam on the RHS of 6R green before it leaves the property.  Probably a third of the course is drained through this system which on basically flat land is quite an achievement.  That's a shot of 6R dam below before being enlarged as part of those works.
6R dam
The heat and moisture has certainly got the grass growing so a mixture of some growth regulator and herbicide was applied to all the fairways this week.  There is a little bit of dis-colouration from the herbicide on a few areas but nothing to worry about.  The West greens also got a granular fertliser applied to them this week and the rain was actually quite handy in helping to water it in.  This is the first time I have used a granular on them since planting and was one of the ideas bought back from the recent trip to the USA.   The photo below shows the size of each granule which is quite small and has no effect on ball roll once it moves into the turf canopy.
Granular fertiliser.
The turf arrives on Monday for the remaining West course areas after having to cancel it last week due to the wet conditions. 
And some more shots for the "really??" file from this week.  The weirdest of them all was 12R tee where a wedge must have been used to make that much mess which was right in the middle of the men's back tee.  The divots on 5R were replicated on a couple of other fairways and thanks to the ladies who sanded them on Tuesday as they were originally just left untouched and I guess taking two swipes to get out of the bunker on 3W would leave you a little tired for raking duties!!

5R fairway.

12R tee? At least they tried to sand them!

3W bunker

Friday, March 9, 2018

Just another 90mm in the rain gauge for the week but we were still able to get a lot done.  Most importantly we were able to pretty much keep up with the mowing which was quite a feat given the soggy conditions but come Friday afternoon and you would hardly know it had rained.  It would have come as a surprise to some of the Friday morning players when they saw us hand watering greens!  The West greens had been sanded the day before and rubbed in but there was still some sand on the surface so the best way to settle it in to the turf canopy is to water it in.

Watering on 16W.

We were also able to get the planned earthworks done adjacent to the temporary greens on the West course and an extension to the blue tee area on 15W tee.  The sublime skills of the Bobcat operator allowed us to barely leave a tyre track in the areas.  The turf arrives on Monday to finish the areas off.

A couple of photos below clearly belong in the "REALLY" file!!  Although one of the courses I played in the USA recently is a top 100  course with just 300 members and they have the same problem with care of the golf course. 

18 River fairway bunker.  One set of footprints.

4 juicy divots on 10W fairway.

As I have mentioned before - Please leave the course in a condition that you would like to find it.

Friday, March 2, 2018

Nearly 9 inches of rain last weekend certainly tested the courses ability to take water out with the massive thunderstorm on Monday evening finishing it off.  I always say that I won't knock back rainfall as you don't know where the next lot is coming from but that was ridiculous.

Motorised buggies were off both courses at various times and the constant rain kept the players away.  In the deluge on Saturday there must have been a window of opportunity to get out on the River course and the photos below show some of the damage caused.  Calling motorised buggies off is my decision and it's not a very easy one to make.  Realising the effect on the club's income and members enjoyment it is a decision that is not taken lightly and has many factors considered before the call is made.  There are a couple of "go too" areas that quickly give an indication of just how wet the courses are and their condition forms the basis of the decision.  The current rainfall radar and weather forecast are consulted to see just how long the rain will be lasting and the general weather forecast for the day is also considered.  Unfortunately one of the sites I rely on for wind and rain predictions have changed their forecasting model and are now nowhere near as accurate as they once were.  If anyone knows of an accurate website, particularly for rainfall, please pass it on.  Perhaps unfortunately for me the arthritis in my fingers is becoming a pretty good sign of approaching rainfall!! 

The decision on buggies is generally made by 5.15am after a tour of the courses and posted on the website by 5.30am.  This obviously means that the call is made in the dark without being able to physically see the sky.  If I had been able to see the sky last Saturday morning buggies may well have been off both courses and the damage below prevented.

The photos show the damage on Sunday morning after a buggy had driven through an area of pooled water then the same area today.  They were taken on 11R fairway which is one of the driest out there so one can only imagine what sort of damage would result on 13 or 16W for example. 

Sunday am.

Friday pm.


Sunday am.
Friday pm.

The photos below is of the approaching storm on Monday evening that had a very "green" look about it which is generally a very good sign of hail.  Fortunately we had no hail but a heck of a light show and 35mm in about even time.

Overlooking Club Banora.

Getting closer!

The rain has certainly made the rough grow and we are attempting to keep up as best we can which isn't easy so please bear with us.

Next week will see some further repair works around 6, 7 and 9 West green surrounds where the access areas that were unable to be repaired due to their proximity to the temporary greens will be done.  Most of these areas are riddled with tree roots as well, some of which were exposed by the volume of vehicle traffic over them.  15W men's tee will also be extended back, moreso to level out the blue teeing area than to gain length.  There will be various contractors on course so players co-operation would be much appreciated. 


Friday, February 23, 2018

Back to reality and a wet and much cooler end to the week.  From all reports of the heatwave experienced while I was away I am glad we have TifEagle greens which coped with the conditions quite comfortably.  The new front nine greens continue to power along and continually improve.  One of the clubs visited in the USA had quite new TifEagle greens and Cool Tweed's newest front 9 compare very favourably which was heartening given the resources available at that course.
The conference and trade show that I attended in San Antonio was quite successful despite the bleak weather experienced there.  You would never complain about Melbourne's weather again though as after 27 degrees on the Sunday it struggled to get above 6 degrees for the rest of the week.  The seminar on Ultradwarf couchgrasses (of which TifEagle is one) that I did was a little disappointing as there was not much new research available but it did become a very good open discussion session with all sorts of methods and ideas for getting the best result with the Ultradwarfs thrown around.  A couple of other educational sessions on "understanding turf fungicides" and "how much shade is too much shade" rounded out the educational side of the week with some good ideas and processes discussed.  These types of sessions are great for jogging your mind and giving some ideas and I always come back refreshed and generally positive about what we achieve here on the courses at Cool Tweed.
The trade show had numerous new product launches but a lot of them take time to get to Australia.  A few that caught my eye included a new soil moisture probe that also reads surface temperature and soil salinity and greens can be GPS mapped to fully paint a picture of soil moisture health.  GPS guided sprayer systems have been developing for a while particularly in agriculture but there has been a big move in the turf industry recently with several systems on show.  The GPS systems lead to cost savings and benefits for the environment and accurate application leads to better results and ultimately improved playing surfaces.  A smaller self propelled spray unit and a new style of hand bunker rake also raised my interest as did a robotic greens mower although you still need a person to set the mowing area up and transport it from green to green.  Might not be long though!!
After the show it was off to Florida with two fellow Course Supers to tour some courses with TifEagle greens in their winter conditions although 25 degrees was barely winter!!  One of the courses is very "high end" with a joining fee of US$350,000.... that's right - 350K.  Another was a resort where the cheapest room for the time we were there was US$4,000 a night and then we played at a private men only club that had the newish TifEagle greens and only 320 members.  Despite the massive resources available at these venues they still experienced much the same problems as us and we were treated to some openly honest and frank discussion with our hosts.  Product application rates and machinery adaptation ideas are always good take away's with all 3 of us feverishly taking notes and comparing our impressions after leaving.  One of their big advantages over us apart from their staffing levels is first daily tee off times of 7.30am and being closed every Monday for "maintenance Monday".  If only!!
Just a couple of photos below showing a similar problem with edging that we have; a different type of edging implement;  a tee that was 150 yards long and lunch at the seminar which seated some 1200 people at the same time which was quite a feat....and a tasty lunch!! 
Ball sitting down in the grooved green edge.

"Stick edgers" as they call them.

Front half of the long tee.

Back half of the long tee.

Lunch break at the seminar.
Back to Cool Tweed and quite a busy week with growth regulator and fertiliser applied to all fairways and greens and although winter may seem a long way off some extra fertiliser was applied to the weaker tees to get them in the best condition possible entering the cooler months.  10W green also had a large amount of plugging out of encroaching Blue Couch done and it makes you wonder how so much has gotten in to this green in comparison to the others.  
Staff rain gear got a good workout today!!

Saturday, January 27, 2018

No internet in my office for the last few days so a bit difficult to do a post properly off my phone and there may not be any posts over the next couple of weeks as I am heading to the USA to attend the Golf Industry Show in San Antonio. I have been to the show 6 times since my first in 1988 and they are a real eye opener and one of the best educational opportunities available.  Last year saw 13,600 people attend and the same number is expected this year in San Antonio.  There is also a 250,000 square foot trade show that runs alongside the educational sessions which always showcases the latest products and ideas available for the golf course maintenance industry with generally more than 500 companies exhibiting.

There is an excellent full day seminar on the management of Ultradwarf couchgrass greens that I did 3 years ago so am very much looking forward to the latest research updates.

San Antonio has several courses with TifEagle greens but their climate is a lot cooler than ours so whilst some visits to courses will be made I will once again spend some time down in Florida where there is an abundance of TifEagle greens in very similar conditions to Cool Tweed.  

Friday, January 19, 2018

No rain in the forecast until next Wednesday at the earliest!!  I haven't often seen such a pessimistic rainfall outlook and I hope they are wrong.  Both courses are drying out and I cursed myself last week by saying that the lack of wind was assisting good application after the wind has blown almost every night since!!

The new TifEagle greens on the West course are settling in very well and surviving the warm dry conditions with apparent ease.  As was the case last year they will just get better every week as they smooth out and adjust to the lower mowing heights.  9W will open tomorrow which is just 7 weeks since being planted and they are now back in play.  A big thank you to the members and their patience playing temporary greens over the past 2 summers.  The putting surfaces on the back 9 certainly demonstrate how good the grass is for golf though so a bright future ahead for the West greens.

As was the case last year the ducks are certainly enjoying the lush growth on the new greens.  We had a product that we have previously used that the ducks don't like the taste of but that is no longer available.  So I got on to some snail and slug pellets that we sprinkle on the immediate green collar and as they are grazing towards the green they hit these pellets which again they don't like and so far it has kept them off the green.  4W is the main green affected at the moment so that is what the little blue pellets are on the collar.  

Blue snail pellets stopping the ducks.

Friday, January 12, 2018

And then there was one!!  Barring overnight dramas 9W will be the only temporary green left on the front nine West with 2, 3, 4 and 8 set top open to play tomorrow.  The greens were all groomed and sanded this week to improve the putting surface to an acceptable standard which was achieved.  9W should come in to play next Saturday and by the start of February they all should be providing an excellent putting surface.

Final sanding for 3W on Friday

Elsewhere on the courses and things are starting to dry out but at least with the lack of wind overnight the irrigation system gets a chance to perform as well as it can with the sprinklers allowed to operate efficiently.  The fairway sprinklers at Cool Tweed are just a single row down the middle of the fairway so there is not a lot of overlap.  They are actually 2 speed sprinkler drives so they speed up where there is overlap and slow down where there is not.  They are generally Toro 690 sprinklers which have a throw of 30 metres and deliver 300 litres of water a minute and it is quite possible that some of the sprinklers in the ground on Cool Tweed are in excess of forty years old such is the quality and longevity of the sprinkler.  They rarely cause a problem which can't be said for our ageing control system. 

A Toro 690 in full flight on 11R

Friday, January 5, 2018

Thankfully the short weeks are now past us and we can start to catch up on the mowing and trimming about the courses.  High player numbers this week slowed down our work rate but the staff did a great job to just about get both courses fully mown.  The strong winds also add to the workload with clean up required each morning before the normal jobs can be done.

Another machine breakdown this week with one of the roughcutters succumbing which is quite possibly the worse time of year for this to happen but as their name perhaps suggest they are "roughcutters" and spend a lot of time in amongst the trees chopping up sticks as well as grass.  I have mentioned before that we use "mulching" type blades which help reduce the abundant sticks and twigs to a mulch which is a lot faster than trying to pick them all up.  The photo below shows a new and 6 week old blade and it's plain to see just what happens to the blade with such use!!

The last place a machine needs to be is on the hoist!

Wear and tear on the blade!