Friday, December 7, 2018

Another windy week with much of our time spent clearing tree debris from the courses.  The forecast is for the wind to continue so our efforts at keeping the courses clean will continue.  We need to do it to allow some light to reach the plant to allow it to grow and also to protect the mowers, particularly the greens and tees mowers.  Our rotary type mowers in the roughs and intermediate cuts are fitted with mulching kits to allow the debris to literally be smashed up.

We also stared the West course greens renovations with the collars being scarified and aerated.  The two days we have next week to complete the renovation isn't enough time for us to get these done as well.  Here's hoping for some fine dry weather on Monday and Tuesday.

A quiet day on the West course on Thursday gave the opportunity to get some fertiliser out on the fairways and nearly 4 tonne of a custom blend slow release was spread.  Unfortunately no rain of any substance to follow so it will be up to the irrigation to wash it in.

And a weird finish to the week with a fox getting caught in the course boundary fence.  She wasn't very appreciative of the bolt cutters being used to cut the wire and was gnashing away at us but was eventually freed although with a nasty gash on the leg.

Looks fairly placid but looks could kill!!


And I found this classic golf photo in my readings this week.

Might be hard to see in the fog!!
 

Friday, November 30, 2018

It's starting to get very dry again and with the higher temperatures being experienced the courses are starting to show the effects with some dry areas appearing.  We have been here and worse before and it only needs some rainfall to bounce back but the forecast doesn't look good.  Two likely looking storms have brewed during the week with no result including one on Friday afternoon.

Looked good for some rain on Friday but.....


The River greens are coming back from the renovation well with mowing heights back to normal.  It is a tough time to lower the heights and restore the surface with the sand always causing the blades to lose their cut.

River greens on their way back.


The West greens have been uneven of late and that has been caused by a patchy response to fertiliser.  The greens are fed up prior to renovation to hopefully assist with recovery but they have taken the applied fertiliser in a very inconsistent manner.  TifEagle is a grass that can thatch up very quickly which is undesirable so fertiliser is applied judiciously to assist in preventing that along with cultural practices like sanding and de-thatching.  It takes about 7 - 10 days for the effect of a fertiliser application to become apparent and so it's not an easy thing to do quickly without causing a surge in growth.  Greens 9 and 13 have had a different fertiliser type applied and have responded better than the others although this type of fertiliser has been thought to be one of the causes of disease in the USA.  The greens are expected to come through the renovation with a much better even surface.

Thursday, November 22, 2018

An early post this week as I am off for a weeks R & R and some golf watching at Royal Pines thrown in so no post next week.

It seems an eternity ago that we started the River greens renovation but alas it was only last Sunday.  It still amazes me how much work gets done in the 2 days we have the greens to ourselves and is a credit to the crew.  The light showers we got on Sunday evening and again on Monday morning were quite an annoyance as although there it barely wet the ground it was enough to start the sand to start sticking which means the job takes a lot longer.  The photo shows the first pass of the scarifiers on 3R green.  Depending on the green this was done anywhere between 6 and 9 times per green up and back on the same line.  The greens then had a de-thatcher run over them which is a similar machine but with closer spacings of the blades resulting in a finer cut / slice.  The greens were then mown and cored with the cores rubbed back in to the surface and then the "chaff" blown off.  Another mow and some fertiliser then a sanding with another top up sanding put out this morning.

The reno begins...

As mentioned last week some of the foreign couchgrass in the River greens had been sprayed out and this week we took on the tedious task of plugging those areas out.  Nearly 200 x 9 inch square plugs were done and look to have come up very well.  The idea is that as the greens recover from the renovation the patches will blend in to the surface. 

Oh and if you watch some of the World Cup this week at Metropolitan GC and wonder how they get their bunker edges the way they do......look below for the staff member cutting them with a knife!!  Any runners are generally trimmed with scissors!!

Attention to detail gone wild!!
 

Friday, November 16, 2018

I mentioned a little while back that the new TifEagle on the West greens was "birdproof" from the Corella's who randomly attack 5, 6 and 7 West greens.  Unfortunately that is not the case anymore with damage to the greens this week.  Normally if the flagstick is out of the hole that's enough to keep them away as they seem to like swinging around on it.  It only seems to happen at certain times of the year so hopefully they will stop soon.  It is bad but there are other club's where an entire green can be destroyed.

6W hole on Friday morning.


An issue in the pump shed had me  spend a bit more time there than usual and I heard a splash in the pump well inside the shed.  On closer inspection I saw this monster of an eel that had got past the filter somehow and into the inlet pipe.  It wasn't too impressed about being caught either but is now somewhere in the Tweed River!!

Catch of the day.



River greens renovation will start on Sunday afternoon.  This is a major undertaking and one that we need fine weather for so here's hoping.  It's not something we like doing but is certainly something that needs doing.  We are one of the few club's in SE Qld that only do one renovation per year with most opting for another in late summer as well.  This year will see us scarify the greens up and back in at least six directions followed by a hollow aeration with 8mm tines.  Then its time for some fertiliser topped up with some sand that has been amended with some humate and gypsum.

Friday, November 9, 2018

Another big week on the courses with a huge amount of work achieved in amongst a fairly busy week of play and what seemed like deja vu with the wind making a mess of the courses.  A strong northerly was met by a stronger southerly on Thursday that is the messiest wind we can get, particularly when it is as gusty and blustery as it was.

Tree stumps around the courses have now been removed and repaired and another application of growth regulator applied to the fairways.  Some herbicide was also added to the growth regulator mix but at just low rates which has only caused a minor burn.  A higher rate was trialled on a few West course fairways as well for control of Paspalum and some Crowsfoot.  The fertiliser application to fairways mentioned last week didn't happen but the painting of the foreign Couchgrass in the River greens certainly did.  Mainly the back 9 were done this year and if it proves successful the front 9 will be included next year.  The greens on both courses were also sanded this week which includes some humate and gypsum to help bolster the greens.

Literally painting the weeds!!


The turf has been laid on the two tees mentioned last week with the Zoysia going down on 7W and the TifTuf on 18R tee.  Both have already taken very well with the Zoysia much faster than expected.  The tees will be hand mown until they are down to normal height.


18R tee freshly laid.

And in the "really??" file from this week!!!!  Maybe a lesson from new Pro Simon is in order so you can get out in one and have enough energy to pick up the rake??

First player in after raking.....

And very sad news again this week with the passing of a Superintendent colleague and friend in Florida.  Steve Wright was the Super at Pine Tree GC in Boca Raton and hosted our group that travelled there earlier this year.  He was one of the most popular and accommodating fellows in the industry which was demonstrated by no hesitation in inviting us to play the very private club.  Steve passed suddenly last Sunday and will be sorely missed by the industry and his plethora of friends and peers. 


 

Friday, November 2, 2018

Another very busy week on the courses that started with a massive clean up following the very strong winds from last week end, particularly Sunday night.  It was hard to believe it was the same golf course on Monday and Tuesday with just light breezes allowing us to get the courses spotless and playable again.  That didn't last long as the winds picked up again on Wednesday and don't look like abating anytime soon.  A couple of shots below to show off the handiwork of the staff in the clean up.  It's pretty hard to keep your spirits up when the wind just comes back and blows it all back down again although the winds of the last few days are nothing compared to last week end.

Clearing leaf debris is a seemingly never ending job most of the year at Coolie Tweed and particularly so at this time of year although it is very necessary to allow as much sunlight to get to the turf surface.  The shade of the trees themselves make it tough enough to grow grass successfully in many situations on the courses.  I came across an interesting quote during the week;  "Good grass doesn't grow in the forest and there are no trees on the prairie - the two were never meant to coexist."


2R fairway bunker before
And after
4R greenside bunker before
And after
You know it's windy when the bird nests are on the ground!!


Two of our most shaded tees have had some turf lifted in preparation for some new turf to be laid next week.  Pictured below is 18R which will have a new variety of Couchgrass called "TifTuf" which has a very high tolerance to shade whilst still being mown low enough for use on a tee and 7W will have a variety of Zoysia called "Sir Grange" planted that also grows very well in shade.  It does take a little while longer to develop but should provide a great playing surface for this notoriously difficult tee.  I first saw Zoysia's in the USA in 1988 and they were used then in shady areas with some success.  I must say I am a bit dubious as to why it has taken so long for Zoysia to catch on but from all the trial work and actual plantations I have seen they seem very good in the shade. 

18R tee ready for turf

All the tees have now been renovated with the coring completed this week.  As they recover the mowing height will also be lowered for the summer growth months.  Whilst coring the tees we ran in to another tree issue - that of roots.  We have always hit some roots with the coring machine but this year for some reason was worse than ever with dozens of tines being broken after striking the roots.  As the photo below shows the cores actually pull some of the roots out!!  The (soil) cores are rubbed back in to the surface which has the double effect of top dressing and also some fertiliser response from the soil itself.

A broken tine with a root inside and other "root cores"!!

Next week will see the stumps removed around the courses and some fertiliser applied to the fairways.  This will be done on Tuesday as player numbers are low due to the Melbourne Cup so hopefully some rain will follow.  We will also be literally painting some herbicide on some of the foreign Couchgrass patches in the River greens in readiness for it to be patched out of the greens following renovation later this month. 

And very sad news with the passing of Percy Roberts who was an obvious stalwart of the club and a lover of the courses.  As a founding father of Dad's Army he spent more than 30 years tending to the courses on a weekly basis which is an extraordinary effort in itself.  Let alone the countless hours spent in the boardroom as a club director.  Vale Percy.

Friday, October 26, 2018

A very busy week on the courses and as always the staff stepped up to complete the extra tasks with no real effect on other course duties.  The week started with the re-laying of a 2 coat seal to the pathway in front of West half way.  The path was originally installed on top of the old road base in 2003 so had stood up quite well considering it is our main access track to the courses so any manner and size of vehicle has traversed it.

New pathway.


Then came the re-routing of the irrigation pipe at 4W which as always unearthed some unknown underground services which in this case was a power line that fed the old billboard that was out side the fence near 9W tee.  Having overcome that small hiccup we were able to only go through one of the bunkers which cut the work down somewhat and the job was completed in the allotted time and more importantly successfully as far as the conduit of water is concerned!!

One big trench.

Then came the start of tee renovations and we got the West course scarified and cleaned up.  You need dry conditions for this task and Thursday finished up going cloudy with a light shower around 9am but cleared out and the job was done.  The tees will be aerated next week and we will start on and hopefully finish the River course.

An interesting sideline to this is the machine we use to "scarify" the turf.  Most golfers know it as the machine that puts in "tram lines".  The machine is made by Graden industries which is an engineering company in suburban Melbourne and when it first came on the scene it was revolutionary as the blades spin backwards whereas all other similar machines spin forwards.  The machine has been so successful, particularly in the huge USA market that most Superintendents over there now say they "Graden their greens". 

The Graden in action.

And in my readings this week I came across this gem;

Open Championship 6-7 October 1891. 
Play will commence in the First Round at 9 a.m. and in the Second Round at 12.15 p.m. Competitors will play with as little delay as possible. 
By Order of the Green Committee.

And in October 1998 - 20 years ago - work started on the re-construction of the back 9 River greens and conversion from Bentgrass to Tifgreen 328.

10R green under construction.
 

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?
Finished!!

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.