Friday, March 15, 2019

The weather and lack of rain still dominates the thoughts of Superintendents around Australia with many courses either out of water and buying town water for their greens or very close to being out of water.  As I have mentioned before the 1.2 megalitres that we can pump every day isn't enough but I would hate to think what we would look like without it.  I don't think I have ever seen so many storms produce such little rainfall.  A few screenshots of this weeks radars with the last one tonight so hopefully we will get something worthwhile from this.  
March 9

March 14

Today March 15
Surely we will get something out of this tonight.  Having said that the courses have responded really well to the recent fertilising and are growing very well and playing great as well.  The West fairways had 2 tonne of fertiliser applied to them this week so hopefully some rain will arrive to really kick them on as well.

A small renovation will take place on the River greens early next week to get them prepared for the junior girls amateur in early April.  We will have to tread carefully as the weather can change at this time of year and get a bit cooler on us so just what will be done won't fully be decided until we actually start on Sunday afternoon.  There won't be any coring but there will be some de-thatching and sanding for certain.

And it wouldn't be Players week without passing a comment with respect to the levels they go to with the presentation of the golf course.  I don't know just how many volunteers they have there this year but the roughs are being mown with walk behind rotary mowers just like an old Victa.  The course is oversown this year and really looks like Augusta which is a shame because it is a tremendous course that doesn't need to be spruced up the way it has been and made to play soft.  But it should still provide some great golf and I look forward to watching it.  Even the TifEagle greens have been oversown which is also a shame.  I am pretty sure that Pete Dye the original designer only ever built 2 island greens in his career but he is always remembered for 17 at Sawgrass!!

Early days 17
17 under construction
17 today

Friday, March 8, 2019

A windy end to the week and still no real rainfall in sight and we unfortunately just missed some big falls on Thursday night.  The calmer overnight conditions this week helped the effectiveness of the irrigation system which was important as 4 tonne of fertiliser was spread on the River fairways early in the week.  It is a custom blend fertiliser that is used with an NPK ratio of 19:10:16 with 50% of the Nitrogen as slow release which means that we should have release for up to 10 weeks which will take us in to winter in good shape.  The actual release curve of the fertiliser is somewhat affected by motorised buggies driving on the fertiliser and breaking down some of the coating on the individual granules so the release can be altered by this.  The blend is quite high in Phosphorous which is due to previous outstanding results of applications to the courses.  The River fairways were all mown on Monday prior to the fertiliser going out and haven't been mown again this week to allow the fertiliser the best chance to reach the profile intact. The West fairways will be done next week weather permitting.

Also next week we will be re-modelling the front bunker at 17R green.  Many years ago a grass face was tried and then abandoned and the bunker has self formed in to what it is today.  The works will include confirming the drainage is operational and then the bunker will be re-cut out of the existing area.  It will not be any larger or deeper than it is currently.  The work will be conducted primarily on Monday and the hole will be closed to play all day to ensure safety of contractors and staff.  And no the bunker won't finish up looking like this one that was in play in the 1934 Open at Royal St George's GC which utilised 3 types of revetment - railway sleepers, grass and sod stack.  It didn't hold old Alfred back too much though as he shot rounds of 71, 70, 75 and 74 to finish 3rd to the great Henry Cotton.

Friday, March 1, 2019

So much for the 100mm + of rain that was supposed to accompany former cyclone Oma last week with just a few mm falling during the week.  We are still very dry and need some good rains while it's still warm to prepare us as we head towards winter.  It's looked like rain all week but only low single digit falls have been recorded.  Rain was recorded on 18 days in February but only totalled 88mm with one fall of 34 included in that.

Those of you who play Saturday to Saturday will barely recognise the courses with all storm damage cleared and playing surfaces restored.  The staff has done a great job getting the courses back as per usual.  We lost around 20 trees all up in the wind.

A Casuarina snapped at the base rear 15W.

In April the Club is hosting the Australian Girls Amateur Championship and to start preparations Golf Australia Championships Director Trevor Herden toured the River course last Wednesday to look for areas where he could lengthen the course with several tees going back to the blue plates.  Trevor mentioned that the outer handicap limit will be 5 and with a place in the open field up for grabs there will be a good international field. Trevor was last at Cool Tweed in 1998 for the PGA players school and was impressed with what he saw this week compared to back then which was a nice reward for the work undertaken over the years.  We don't really go out of our way with course preparations for events as we are such a busy golf course with continual club events being played and a small staff but this will be an exception with a concerted effort put towards the week of golf.  It started with the tees being fertlised this week and the fairways getting done next week.  As we get closer mowing regimes will be heightened along with general grooming.  Let's hope the weather cooperates!!??

Friday, February 22, 2019

A pretty tough week in the end with all the uncertainty regarding what the cyclone was going to do affecting work programs.  The high level of rainfall predicted meant that as much mowing as possible needed to be done and as much growth regulator applied in the event of not being able to get back on to the courses to mow in the short term.  I have been caught before with a weather event and it is difficult to play catch up at this time of year which is our high growth period.  The wind has certainly done some damage with a large amount of debris strewn across the courses and several full size trees down.  Bunkers and buggy paths are also covered in litter and as soon as we clear it some more just blows down.

We have had far worse storms before and as in the past it will take time to restore order.  We have a great relationship with a number of our contractors and they actually rang me to offer their services to assist in the clean up when they could get any amount of work elsewhere.  We had already been clearing some trees but the clean up will begin in earnest on Saturday morning and hopefully no more debris hits the ground overnight. 

On the upside we did get 34mm of rain on Thursday night but the washouts in the bunkers and grass wash on fairways illustrates just how hard it came down with most running off and not too much soaking in to where it is needed most.  It did help to recharge some of the groundwater as seen in the small dam on 5W which was nearly dry on Thursday afternoon but re-filled on Friday.

Thursday pm dam level.

Less than 24 hours later!!

Friday, February 15, 2019

Almost a bit sad when you get excited by 5mm of rain but that was all we got on Thursday which was probably lucky as a lot of other nearby locations received a lot less or none at all.  It was a shock to the system though with Wednesday being probably the hottest day so far this summer and then Thursday the coolest with the most welcome showers.  The grass growth on the courses is still extreme and that can be seen with the scalping and some clippings being left on the surface that is occurring on the fairways in some areas.  The growth regulator that is applied to them normally prevents this from happening but such is the surge of growth we are currently experiencing.  The photo below gives a good indication of just how good the growth regulator is with the area on the left being missed in the application and the resultant clippings and mess on the fairway.
18R fairway non growth regulated area on the left.
We got a great result with the scarifying on the tees this week with a lot of dead plant material removed and a good low mow followed.  Unfortunately the rain on Thursday interrupted the process so we will re-start again next week.  The growth regulator will also be applied to the fairways next week as well to help slow them down and as per last week it will be mow mow mow all week!! 

12W tee after a scarify and mow
And one from the archives with a photo of the buggy shed extension that occurred in February 2007.  Wow how time flies!!

February 2007

Saturday, February 9, 2019

We finished with a total of 30mm from the various scuds of rain that came through but what a difference it makes.  The fairways are already well into recovery mode although once again there is no real rain to speak of in the forecast.  We are not as bad as some though with several Brisbane courses actually out of water completely and many down to hand watering greens only.  There was some respite for them with some good falls up there this week.
Finally some rain!!

And the heartbreaking flood in Townsville has caused massive damage to the golf course there with the pump shed being completely inundated therefore losing their pumps and the 2nd green being washed away.  The pictures I have seen are of a very "muddy flood"which is the worst as you have to get the sediment off the greens before it sets like concrete.  Water is on of the methods used but with no pumps their task is exceptionally difficult.  Heavy rain has battered the north all the way to Cairns and many golf courses are suffering badly.  Lets hope they can come out of it ok.
Not much apart from routine course maintenance this week at Cool Tweed with all turf areas really growing well.  Light winds on Friday meant we were able to really give the courses a good clean up and as of Friday afternoon they are looking very good.  It was really nice to receive the following email from an English couple who were out touring Australia recently;

Just wanted to say what fantastic condition both courses are in. The attention to detail is without equal in the courses we’ve played during our trip here in Australia this year. Even the cart path edges are immaculate!  They are both courses to be proud of.
Next week we will be scarifying the tees to try and thin them out with the burst of growth that the rain has bought on and carrying on with our normal routine of mow, mow and mow!!

Friday, February 1, 2019

So much for January 2019 and I hope that I never see one like it again.  Exactly 10mm of rain for the month and officially the driest January on record.  1966 was the next driest with 16.4mm recorded and 2003 was pretty dry with just 18.4mm recorded.  February 2003 followed up with 586mm so although we need some rain 586 might be a bit too much!!.  I also read somewhere that 20 of the hottest years on record for SE Qld have occurred in the past 22 years.  But I am sure the rains will come and at least this week there were some clouds that looked like some rain and we did have a couple of light sprinkles that gave an amazing rainbow on Wednesday morning.  But we need a lot of slow steady rain to bring the parched areas of the courses back to life.

No decent rain to go with it unfortunately

I have had a few members ask if the grass that is "dead" will recover.  In short it is not dead as most turfgrass species virtually go dormant when they are under such stress and recover rapidly once conditions are suitable.  

I have a consulting agronomist that I use for advice and was quite happy when we had a look at the growing medium in the West greens.  The slice below is from 4W green and you can see the roots well below 120mm which given the current conditions is very pleasing.  We took some soil samples this week as well and it will be interesting to compare them with some I will take after we get some decent rain which helps dilute the nasties and promote some good growth.  Given the poorish quality of our irrigation water it is expected that salt levels will be very high which should have a detrimental effect on the roots but these are doing very well.  When the greens were renovated in December a large amount of Gypsum was applied which is a very good way to negate the salt which is of great benefit now.    

The darker soil in the photo is the 100mm layer of amended sand that was put in to the new greens on top of the same material with no amendments.  One of the concerns I had was whether the roots would push past the amended sand but as you can see in the photo they are powering through.

And the end of an era of sorts with Len Korn retiring from duties today to return home to WA to be closer to family.....and probably give the championships a shake at his club Rockingham as well!!  Len joined our crew in 2006 and I don't recall him ever ringing on the morning of a work day to tell me he wouldn't be in.  Super reliable and a very productive mowing operator who will be missed.  Good luck in retirement Lenny.