Friday, October 19, 2018

Hard to believe we are on the same planet after what happened last week end into Monday!!  The difference in the courses is astounding and a credit to the hard work of the crew to get them that way.  Thanks to all the members and visitors who have paid us compliments over the past few days.  It really does brighten our day and makes the hard work worth the effort.  All main playing areas are back to normal with some areas of rough still needing a mow.  This is the time when the rough can get away on us with some heat and now plenty of moisture in the ground so please bear with us.  It's not often at this time of year we get such an extended forecast for light winds so make the most of it on the courses while you can!!

A big week next week with the re-location of a 100mm irrigation main line across the front of 4W green on Tuesday.  As mentioned before here the two front bunkers on 4W will be reduced in size to allow for the sweeping bend of the pipe.  At the moment holes 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9 are supplied by only one 100mm irrigation main line following the failure of the one we are replacing at 4W which doesn't allow for required water pressure.  
The path at the rear 10W across the front of ½ way West and 15W green is also scheduled to be re-surfaced.  
If the weather is kind to us the West tees will get a renovation next Thursday.  Hopefully we will be able to get them scarified and hollow tyne aerated in the day.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

The rain has finally stopped and there's some sunshine and a decent outlook at last.  The courses received 130mm over the past six days which was less than forecast which is only a good thing and for once we were spared the big numbers that fell further up the coast and  the hinterland.

The courses have bounced right back and all playing surfaces were cleared of the debris that came down in amongst the 70+ kmh wind gusts.  Only one tree came down in on the LHS 11R.  The staff did a great job today getting the courses back in shape and ready for golf - with motorised buggies on both courses - on Wednesday.  Greens on both courses will be cut and rolled for Wednesdays comp and bunkers raked with probably 3 or 4 bunkers still holding some water.  

So we are good to go!!

Some before and afters below; 

4W fairway prior to blowing.

4W fairway after.

Rear 4W green bunker.

And after.

Tree down LHS 11R.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Not a very pleasant end to the week weather wise and the forecast doesn't look good for the week end either.  100% chance of 30 - 50mm of rain for Saturday and 100% chance for 30 - 80mm for Sunday means it may be a wet one!!  The wind is also a pain with debris down across the courses but the crew did a great job again today in particular cleaning up after some gale force gusts on Thursday.  The wind was so strong that it has even started shredding the bark from the Gum trees which normally doesn't generally happen until well into November.  

Leaves on 3R green makes putting tough.

4R fway covered.

Bark being stripped from Gum trees.

No motorised buggies allowed on the West course today and virtually no play came out as a result.  The greens stay dry though so we took advantage of the situation and got the West greens de-thatched and mown while the surface was dry in the late morning which is a bonus as this is normally done in front of play while it is still dewy.  A dry surface means a much better result and the photo below shows a tiny sample of what was removed with the main thing being a lot of it was dead material that makes up the thatch layer in the turf which is the layer between the soil surface and the top of the leaf blades.  The less dead material in there the better and the de-thatch also helps create some new shoots.  We also took the opportunity to put some liquid fertiliser on the West greens after the de-thatch so although no golf it was a win win for us. 

Mainly brown dead material removed.

The new stump grinder that will primarily be used as a tree root grinder got it's first run this week up the RHS 1W fairway.  It did a great job as expected and so starts what will be a virtually never ending task of removing tree roots from fairways in particular.  At this time of year with the increase in grass growth it will be difficult to allocate time to this new task but we will get it out as often as possible.  It is a head down type of job and takes a lot of concentration so if you see it out on the courses please make sure the operator knows you are about to play.

The new addition to the fleet.

Tree root chopped off on 18W.

The forecast may not help us win next week though as a contractor had been booked to add some sand to bunkers on the West course. That requires the use of a large backhoe (and shovels + rakes) and trailers to transport the sand around.  Unfortunately if it is too wet then the job is postponed and the problem is the contractors are normally booked a month ahead and it is normally that long before I can get them onsite again.  That also puts it back into the busy time of tee and green renovations as well.  Here's hoping the forecast is wrong.


Friday, October 5, 2018

As mentioned last week the short working week was going to present some challemges then a couple of irrigation breaks added to the workload of the week.  Come Friday afternoon the courses are looking a treat and have cleaned up particularly well after a very windy Wednesday and Thursday.  Just about everything got mowed / trimmed and blown off or in the bunkers case out.  I would have to say that the courses could hardly be any better given the resources that are available on course.  Let's hope the weather behaves and the rain stays away for the Club Champs this week end which may well be wishful thinking!

A few of the fairways on the River course have quite a "stripy" look about them which is a result of an application that was made a couple of weeks ago.  We put out a tank mix of a growth regulator and a herbicide which is very commonly recommended and used throughout the world of turf but was a first for us.  For some reason we got a reaction and the mix didn't combine properly despite mixing together quite well in a "jar test" prior to application and hence the resultant stripes.

Stripy result on 2R fway.
A bit more tree work on the programme next week with a number of dead trees to be removed and a bit more trimming in a few areas.  We will also be doing some topdressing on some of the turfed areas around the West greens in amongst prepping the River course for the 3rd round of the Championships. 

Friday, September 28, 2018

A good week for the courses this week with two good dumpings of rain of 13mm each and mostly at night so no effect on the golf but a great effect on the turf.  There is nothing as good as rainfall for a golf course.  Greens on both courses were sanded this past week with a mix that contains some organic material and some gypsum.  The white fleck / granules visible on the West greens is the gypsum that has a hard time dissolving and mixing in to the very tight surface but is so fine has no effect on ball roll.

While we were commissioning the new pump control unit last week we had to de-pressurise the system several times which puts some dangerous air into the pipe network as we refill the lines and that soon exposes any weak pipe areas as it did on Tuesday morning when a mailine burst in front of 13R green.  A couple of other niggly problems connected with the installation but overall the pumps are operating very well.

A short week next week with the public holiday on Monday followed by a 2 tee start for the Ladies on Wednesday, a normal members comp on Wednesday and Friday and a double shotgun start for the veterans on Thursday.  Somewhere in between all that we will try and get the West course prepped for the first round of the Club Champs which is a 4 tee 6.30am start on Saturday!!!!

Well the golfing world was certainly abuzz with Tigers win last week end and the upcoming Ryder Cup.  The small fields at both East Lake last week and at the Ryder Cup certainly help course presentation, particularly greens, but the word from the volunteers is that the turf at Le Golf National this week eclipses East Lake for the most pure turf they have ever seen.  The regular course staff levels at Golf National is 35 and that ramps up to 80 when they annually host the French Open.  This week for the Ryder Cup there will be 180.  That's right 180.

Photos below show;  
  • Attention to detail pressure cleaning the dam bulkheads.
  • Attention to detail using hand scissors to trim encroaching runners.
  • The 7,000 seat grandstand at the 1st tee.
  • The 12 (twelve) fairway mowers on their way out to do their 
  • And lastly I have seen a video of the green in the photo below on the first practice day with 25 people concurrently working on it to mow the green, rake the two bunkers and change the hole. 

Pressure cleaning.

Hand trimming.

1st tee grandstand.
Fairway mowers on their way out.

Perfect turf.

And further in the world of golf I thought it was ironic that Golf Australia magazine had an article this month discussing the issue of the distance the ball now flies.  Turn the page and there's an article from Justin Thomas on how to increase your distance!!??

Friday, September 21, 2018

As mentioned last week the control interface on the irrigation pump station was replaced this week and it did take the predicted 3 days, one of which was 13 hours long, but it was successful and the pump set is humming away nicely.  The new controller gives an improved pump performance and a smoother flow of water dependent on demand which for an ageing pipe system such as ours is very important.  The photo below is of the installation about half way through.

Who'd be an electrician?

Bunkers are always a favourite topic amongst golfers with all sorts of opinions available on what constitutes a good bunker.  Over the course of this year we have been spending considerably more time on bunker maintenance, particularly raking. For quite some years early in my tenure at Cool Tweed we were raking bunkers 6 days a week which was a great strain on manpower and as staff numbers have reduced so has bunker maintenance.  We don't really have any set pattern on when the bunkers get raked as it depends on what type (and how much) of play is scheduled but they are probably done on average 3 times a week.  Not all bunkers get raked every time with "greenside" bunkers taking precedence.  One of the problems with the machines raking bunkers is the access point for the machine as it is normally worn out turf from the tyres and a lot of sand gets bought out of the bunker on the machine and then dropped on the surround as the machine bounces out.  Over the years I have always been on the look out for hand rakes that are suitable for use in bunkers and have finally found some having seen them at one of the clubs I visited in the USA last year.  They give an excellent finished result although not as smooth as the machine.  The main feature of them is that they eliminate the access problem and they also rake through leaves better than the machine can which is an added bonus as a lot of our bunkers are literally leaf collectors.

Sandy machine access area.


Hand rake in action.

I am an avid reader of old golf anecdotes and found this gem last week from 1908 where the smooth state of the bunkers was heavily questioned!!  Quite a few years ago a club in Brisbane started raking their bunkers on a Saturday morning.  When the afternoon field was asked if they noticed it they said no as by the time they got to them they were already destroyed by the earlier players.  Interesting to see Harry Vardon's name mentioned below who was the founder of the almost universal "Vardon grip" in golf.

Bunker was too smooth!!

Friday, September 14, 2018

A less than pleasant start to the week with the sewerage pipe that services the clubhouse springing a leak and requiring some substantial work to repair it.  The rising main runs from the clubhouse virtually straight through the middle of the course and exits into Davey Street.  We have had a few issues with it over the years and most of the time a large tree has been the culprit as it was this week.  I think after the trench was originally dug for it the soft sand made for easy digging for tree planting as there are a number of trees right on top of the pipe.  And this one this week was right on top of it as the photo below shows.  Fortunately our various contractors came to the rescue with trees requiring removal, a large trench dug and the repair completed by a licensed plumber.

The offending pipe in the middle of the rootball.
A close up of the pipe.

During the week we trialed a stump grinder around the courses.  The object is twofold in that we can start grinding up a lot of the exposed roots in the roughs and also trace some of the roots intruding into the fairways.  The process seemed to be a success although it is very labour intensive so it will be an ongoing (read never ending) process.  We also used it as a root pruner in a couple of spots as well which is certainly not what it is designed for but it may be useful in places although we are currently investigating the purchase of a purpose built root pruner similar to the one that has been used here previously.

Root pruned and a root ground out RHS 18R tee.
Two roots intruding into 9W fairway ground out.

A big week of irrigation work next week with the control interface of the irrigation pumps being replaced.  The pump station was installed in 2000 and has barely missed a beat since but the actual unit has long been superceded and the modules for the interface are no longer available so an upgrade is essentially required.  It will mean that there will be no irrigation available for possibly three days which would have been unthinkable at this time of year in the days of Bentgrass greens.  The entire switchboard will also need to be re-wired which is a tedious task for our electricians.  While the system is down we will be doing quite a bit of maintenance work around the courses lifting low and dropping high exposed sprinklers.  There are also a number of stop valves around the courses that have failed and need replacing as well as some routine maintenace on some of the satellite controllers.  All of this type of work can only be performed when the system is de-pressurised.