Friday, July 3, 2020

We managed to get the River greens solid tined this week although it did take two days to get through them.  The photo below shows the wear on the tine with another centimetre gone and some real reduction in the diameter of the tine near the tip.  So we only get to do the greens once with each set.

The River greens also got a fertilise on Thursday morning and some sulphate of iron was added to the mix to bring out some colour which is a commonly used ploy. A beautiful day on Friday with 26 degrees in the compound might actually sneak a little bit if growth in with a bit of luck.

Friday didn't start that well though with an irrigation main blowout on 13R fairway meaning we had to shut the pumps down and facilitate the repair.  I had planned to fertilise the West greens on Friday morning but no water meant it gets postponed till next week.  The break also meant three men were occupied with the repair and subsequent re-charging of the irrigation system for the best part of five hours of unplanned labour loss each.

We were also able to get the tees fertilised this week as they are really showing the effects of the amount of play we are having and the soft conditions due to the rain.  This is particularly the case on the shaded tees such as 4R shown below with the result of just one days play.  At this time of year 4R and 7W tees don't get any sunshine at any time of the day.

4R tee in the shade.
As I have reported here previously we are having some ongoing issues with the pump station and seem to be spending way too much time in there at the moment.  One of the unseen jobs we have to do is the maintenance of the pumps and we are currently having issues with one of the main pumps which has an issue with its impellers.  So the pump technician was in this week to strip it down and find out what is happening.  The photo below shows one of the 30hp motors being lifted off the pump so we can find the problem.  The pump station consists of four 30hp and two 20hp motors and was designed so that only five pumps are required to achieve the desired flow so that a single breakdown doesn't effect water distribution.

Top arrow to motor and bottom one to pump.

Friday, June 26, 2020

I was talking to a fellow Superintendent this week and we were discussing the value of experience on the course staff and I started to consider our Cool Tweed crew.  Sunday will mark my 21st anniversary with the Club and there are still four crew who were here at the start and over the years there has been 128 staff members come and go and stay.  The current crew have a combined total of 230 years on the courses and that includes the two apprentices who have just five between them so there's lots of experience out there.

Back to the courses and we were able to complete the spraying of the tree bases this week and were also able to fertilise all River course fairways.  The West greens were aerated with solid tines which helps get some much needed air into the soil profile without disturbing the playing surface too much.  It's been hard to get it done over the past few months with the amount of play we are getting and we quite often do it on a rainy day when there is no play on the courses.  Below is a photo of one of the actual tines used this week compared to a new one on the left.  The tines start off at 140mm long and a diameter of 6.3mm and after aerating half the West greens the tine had lost 10mm off its length.  There are twenty four tines on each machine and we look to get 80mm depth with 333 holes per square metre.  So that means we ''punched'' 3,996,000 holes on the greens this week!!

This much wear after 9 greens.

The new Club website is now active and to access the ''course conditions'' where motorised buggy status is published you just need to press the ''cloud'' icon on the RHS of the home page.  You don't need to be signed in to do this and this area also includes a link to this blog.

Press here for course conditions.

Friday, June 19, 2020

Pretty much getting sick of rainbows at the moment with the constant sun showers really becoming annoying and also keeping us wet.  There are a lot of areas on both courses that are being badly cut up by motorised buggy traffic and I would ask drivers to watch where they are going and avoid the wet areas.  I saw an amazing photo of buggy traffic on a course in the USA where they have a tracking system fitted to their buggies so that they can monitor exactly where they have been driven around the course.  The photo below shows the traffic from all 121 buggies that were driven around this course in just one day which is quite an extraordinary graphic and I am sure we would probably look worse than this given current traffic levels we are experiencing.  The yellow lines are all traffic and then the blue one is just one highlighted.  At least the greens and waterways were spared!! 


Out on the courses all West fairways were fertilised this week so at least the rain did some good there and we started the exhaustive process of spraying around the bases of the trees to clean up the weeds.  We also had another couple of irrigation issues requiring some repair but the major irrigation issue this week is in the pump shed once again with a leak on a flange on the outlet to the courses.  A new flange needs to be fabricated which will take a couple of days before we can fit it which will require a total shutdown of the system.  The photo below shows the culprit with the rust only showing on the non-visible side of the pipe.

Just a pinhole size - but too much.

Friday, June 5, 2020

Thanks for the couple of comments and private emails regarding the removal of the ball from the putting cup both during and post Covid.  Since the change of the rule to allow players to putt with the flag in I have been amazed at the number who do and I would say it is the majority.  Last year when we held the junior girls tournament the vast majority of the girls left the flag in.  The resulltant damage to the cup from hands, clubs and suction cups on putters has seemed to be getting worse every day.  It has led to cries from Superintendents the world over for the rule to be changed back due to the damage. 

Unfortunately, the apparatus shown last week is not available in a size that will fit our flagsticks which are 16mm against the 12mm size needed.  The rep has said they are looking at producing one but I doubt it will be ready for Covid.  I am still keen to have a look at it though to see if it can work for us.

As one of the comments mentioned last week the possibility of damage post Covid is also heightened if players do remove the flagstick and then aren't careful returning the flag to the cup and brush the side of the hole and cause damage.  A few clubs I know have tried attaching the apparatus below which is commonly used on practice greens but have found that the damage when being returned to the hole outweighs the advantages.

Back to Tweed and the change in the weather is most apparent.  Last Friday saw 18 degrees at 5.30am in the compound which seemed a lifetime ago to Wednesday's 6 degrees which certainly slowed growth right down.  The wind chill factor is also a factor for us but when you talk to some of the southern States we really aren't that cold.

The River greens were due for a fertilise this week to help with some leaf growth and colour but unfortunately it was too windy late in the week to get it done.  With the light shortening in the morning and the speed of the first groups it is getting tougher to get some of our work done in front of play.

It's the norm for us to have a staff BBQ breakfast at least once a month which has been missing since Covid but this week we finally had one which the boys all enjoyed very much.  Social distancing was well and truly adhered to and we ate in shifts so that there were no gatherings happening.  I did have to buy a few more pairs of tongs though!!  It's only a small reward for the staff's efforts in presenting the courses but one that is very much appreciated by all the crew.

Friday, May 29, 2020

A pretty threatening sky and radar greeted us this morning but fortunately only a light shower eventuated.  Byron Bay got some more rain and have had a bit more than us this month for a change which I am fairly happy about.  It's a different story at Indooroopilly GC in Brisbane who have had less than 30mm in March, April and May compared to our total of 430mm for the same period.

Threatening skies and a rainbow this morning.

I have come across an interesting apparatus that is fitted to the flagstick that will allow the ball to be holed properly and removed without touching the flagstick.  It would allow the removal of the pool noodle but I would envisage it being permanent post Covid restrictions as well. Since the change of rules earlier this year allowing the flagstick to be left in, the damage to the edge of the hole has worsened with a lot of players still using either the suction cup on the bottom of their putter or a gloved hand and both methods mean more contact with the edge of the hole and resultant damage.  Since the pool noodle has been installed the damage to the edge of the hole has been reduced significantly.  I would be interested in readers thoughts on this one.

Friday, May 22, 2020

A wet week which hasn't happened for a while and considering the height of the water table we were always going to get wet quickly which is exactly what happened. The weeks rainfall totals were; Sunday 10mm,  Monday 20mm, Tuesday 2mm, Wednesday 27mm, Thursday 31mm and this morning 2mm for a weeks total of 92mm.  That takes us up to 1662mm for the year thus far.  In comparison Coolangatta airport had 41mm this week for a YTD total of 1276mm.   Making the call to restrict motorised buggies is always difficult but was certainly necessary this week with the ground conditions.  Another consideration at this time of year is also the lack of recovery weather so that if we do get damage it's going to remain evident for quite a while.

And you know it's wet when disease starts to affect the fairways as can be seen below on 9W fairway today.  This only happens after prolonged periods of leaf wetness which is exactly what happened this week.  And the other photo is of 12R on Wednesday morning at 7.15am and that was one of the fairways that caused motorised buggies to be restricted.

9W fairway disease.

12R fairway Wednesday.

We have been having some issues at the pump station with pump control and the automatic filter that is a vital piece of the irrigation system.  The pumps issue seems to be related to the software in the irrigation control program but the filter has even the technical department of the supply company stumped.  We are back up and running for now and fortunately didn't need any irrigation this week although we had to run some on Friday to activate the pumps.

And some juvenile wildlife on the course this week with a family of pacific black ducks waddling along 9W tee.  I don't mind these as they don't feed and poop on the greens the way wood ducks do.  I would much rather these juveniles than the one in the other photo below that was ''snapped'' on a course in Naples Florida this week.

Trying to keep up on 9W tee.

No thanks!

It was good to see some live golf earlier in the week with the charity skins game at Seminole in Florida.  Seeing the Pro's carry their own bags was quite a sight and obviously Dustin doesn't do it very often as he walked of the first tee with bag back to front.  He did however get smoothng the bunker with your feet right as shown in the video below.  He even raked Ricky Fowler's marks out as well and considering there was no one else following was a good effort by him.  I don't think the same could be said for Rory at the end of the video though with a good example of what not to do.

Seminole is quite an amazing golf club and I have been lucky enough to visit and play it twice.  On my first visit in 1988 I was hosted by long time Seminole Superintendent Bill Whitaker and he was a fabulous host.  It is an intensely private club and had a strict ''no photos'' edict so I have no photographic evidence of my visit although I did get some photos inside the maintenance shed. In 1988 I don't think any of the membership actually lived in Florida which is much the same today.  They only have about 300 members and it is probably the most difficult course to get a game on in the USA.  Bill relayed a couple of stories including the time the club President rang him and asked him to come up to the pro shop and join him for a round to make up a four ball.  Bill was a very handy player and resisted but finally gave in and on arriving at the pro shop shook hands with his playing partner who was the great Ben Hogan.  Hogan would practice at Seminole every year in the lead up to the Master's as he reckoned that if you could play Seminole you could play anywhere.  Another story was when Jack Nicklaus played there and on reporting to the pro shop was asked to pay a green fee.  Jack said ''you know who I am?'' and the reply was ''yes sir but all guests pay to play here''!!  Jack asked for a receipt as he said the tax department will never believe he had to pay to play a round of golf.

The course is closed from May to November as are many other courses in Florida but is still fully maintained during this time.  (Too hot to play golf.)  It also has a rule that it shuts the gates at 6pm every night no matter what is happening.  That was obviously broken last week with the game going overtime but it wasn't broken when Ernie Els had to come in after only 15 holes a few years back.  The TV coverage really didn't do the course justice as it is an extremely difficult course despite its short length by todays standards.

Friday, May 8, 2020

Another productive week on the courses in amongst the myriad of players that we are experiencing at the moment.  Playing 2 balls means the courses are just about completely full every day after 8.30am which as I have mentioned makes it very hard to get the required work done.  It is nice to be getting some very complimentary comments about course conditions as well which is a credit to the staff.  

A few more huge dead trees taken out which doesn't leave too many left for removal.  The wind earlier in the week hampered some of our operations but fortunately some calmer conditions on Thursday and Friday allowed us to get a couple of very important plant protective products out and get some fertiliser on to the West greens and some more fairways.

It has been a frustrating couple of weeks with the irrigation system having a couple of inexplicable problems.  Some contact was even made to the pump manufacturers HQ in Denmark as we tried to figure out what was happening.  Operation during the day was ok but it was at night when the automatic program was running that we had issues.  Unfortunately the only way to really see what is actually happening is to be onsite overnight so a week of 3am starts was the call of the day.  It was a bit chilly earlier in the week but the pump shed is pretty warm with all the pumps in operation so that helped out somewhat.  It turned out (hopefully) to be a glitch in the software so we have re-loaded and started from scratch again.  Time will tell?

Golf is apparently back on in all States of the USA as from next Monday as well as much of the UK.  It's amazing to think of what happened in both the World Wars when courses pretty much closed or just sat dormant for the duration.  And here we are bemoaning playing as a 2 ball.  I remember at Kingston Heath, Royal Melbourne and Victoria GC's in Melbourne that many original bunkers were lost during WW2 when some of the Coastal Tea Tree fell over and grew over them.  A lot of these bunkers were re-discovered during a tree removal project on the courses and were duly re-instated in the 1980's.  From reading the club history of Cool Tweed, golf seemed to continue throughout WW2 although the cost and supply of golf balls was an issue.

On a recent Covid-19 bike ride I came across a plaque on the side of Fingal Road almost directly opposite the CTH clubhouse which commemorates an R and R camp that was situated there during WW2 for members of the US 32nd Infantry Division.  I wonder if part of their R and R included a boat ride across the River for a game of golf?  And speaking of R and R that's what I will be doing next week so there will be no blogpost next week. 

In my readings this week I came across this article which depicts some of what was happening on golf courses in the UK during WW2.  Incredible to think that courses were ''put to the plough'' to grow food or become a landing strip with only the greens generally untouched and maintained.