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.

Friday, January 25, 2019

The dry continues and there seems no end in the near future according to forecasts.  With no more rain in January we will have the driest January since records began way back in 1886.  At this stage we have had 8.6mm of rain since January 1 which is pretty much half of the 16.4mm that was recorded in January 1966.  With December 2018 delivering just 92mm it will be the sixth lowest December / January combined total as well.  And it will be only the sixth time that less than 40mm of rain has been recorded in January. So that's one of the reasons we are currently parched.

As I mentioned last week the irrigation system is operating at full capacity given our current supply volume and ability to pump out on to the courses.  1.2ML is pumped down each 24 hour period from the Banora Plant and that same quantity is pumped out on the courses each night.  Add to that the evaporation from the irrigation dam and we are gradually dropping behind.  We are not alone in the dry conditions with several other clubs reporting the same issues.  And speaking of other clubs, 2 other 36 hole courses in southern Qld pump out 3.5ML a night on to their courses.  Alas even if we could be supplied with that volume, our current system wouldn't be able to deliver that quantity to the courses.  The fact that we are largely a sand based course doesn't help either although that's certainly a positive for us in times of rain.  

A tree contractor will be working in the area between the Pro Shop and practice nets next Thursday and Friday.  We will be trimming some of the huge Fig limbs in the area so please take care and follow all signage and directions. 

Friday, January 18, 2019

Well the dry continues and the courses are really starting to show the effects.  We did get this dry last year so it's not something new, but with no rain in the forecast it doesn't look good.  At least last January we had 50mm of rain in the first week and then nothing until February / March delivered 520mm or 21 inches in old talk.  Hopefully some rain will come sooner than later.  The photo below shows 18R fairway on January 24 last year compared to today below it.  The drain line showing is a key sign of just how dry it is.

18R January 2018.

18R January 2019.

The irrigation system is struggling to keep up and is operating at full capacity on a nightly basis.  One of the big issues we have is the varied soil conditions with many virtually water repellent sands in many areas of the courses.  The photo below shows an area adjacent to a sprinkler on 1W fairway that you would swear isn't working.  But rest assured it is as are all the sprays in similar situations.  What makes it even more interesting is that the fairway sprinklers are 2 speed and the area to the side of the fairways where most of the dryness is occurring is where the sprinkler turns slowest.  However with no overlap from other sprinklers there is just not enough water that can be put out in the current weather conditions and with our pumping capabilities.

There are products known as wetting agents that we use on the greens to assist in maintaining some moisture content in the soil profile but we just don't have enough water to help them stay activated for long enough on fairways and hence have stopped using them.  Not to mention their cost and the logistics of spraying them out in amongst all our other spray programs and the trials we have done on the fairways to date have been largely inconclusive.

The sprinkler is working!!

Friday, January 11, 2019

Well the week flew by with a bit of everything thrown in which is one of the reasons it is such an interesting and varied job.  You have to be prepared to fly by the seat of your pants as they say with something different appearing around every corner.
Sunday, Monday and Tuesday afforded the opportunity to get some growth regulator out on the fairways which is only three weeks since the last application compared to the normal four weeks that we get such is the growth patterns at the moment.  Most of the courses are under control at the moment although we are drying very quickly and in desperate need of some good rainfall.  It has been a great summer holiday season thus far weatherwise but a couple of days soft rainfall would be most welcome!!
About 7.15pm Wednesday evening I get a call from the club that "there is a busted pipe on 1 West and there's water everywhere".  Keep in mind that about two weeks ago I got a call with the same line and upon coming in found nothing.  I also once received a call that there is water going everywhere at 7 River tee and upon inspection found that the bubbler was stuck on.  Anyway so I came in on Wednesday to find a 6 inch mainline had given way and indeed there was water everywhere.  The system had to be shutdown and the repair effected the next morning.  It did mean however that we lost a nights watering which if it had happened with Bentgrass greens could have been disastrous.
The sinkhole from the pipe blowout on 1W.
Repairing a 6 inch mainline wasn't really the start to Thursday that we wanted as we had booked a mobile crane to assist us install a new support structure on the jetty at the water treatment plant that holds our pumps as the existing was badly rusting away and in danger of breaking away.  So we made it to the plant in time and what at first looked to be a very difficult job fortunately became quite easy although it has caused some sleepless nights worrying about how we were going to do it.  But the job was a success and we only lost six hours pumping time. 
The Franna onsite supporting the pier.

Out with the old support beam.

In with the new support.

 Then on Thursday at about 6pm I get a call that there is a fire that can be seen from 9 West green.  I had only just left which made me a bit suspicious as that's where I drive past as I leave the course.  But sure enough i could see the smoke from over near Bunnings and got back to let the fire brigade in to put out the small grass fire on the fenceline at LHS 5 River.  A timely reminder to extinguish cigarette butts I would suggest in this dry period.
Fire LHS 5R.
So that was just some of what happened in the week just gone.  Hopefully next week brings the much needed rainfall although the forecast doesn't look good.