Saturday, June 16, 2018

The end of a pretty frustrating week with a number of irrigation issues resulting in no water being available for the courses until Friday night.  The problem was a number of leaks on the town water control line that feeds the satellites throughout the courses.  Just a small leak is enough for sprinklers to either leak and/or fully come on and finding the leaks is very difficult, nearing on impossible some times.  We use the services of a leak detector firm who are very adept at locating the leaks but it is a needle in a haystack situation even though we know where the pipes are located.  It is generally only a 16mm pipe that services the satellites and often the leak can be on the underside of the pipe and spraying straight down in to the sand and not visible on the surface.  Finally progress was made on Friday and a full irrigation program ran overnight in to Saturday.  The new greens were starting to stress and I dare say that if we still had Bentgrass greens they may have been in real danger of perishing.  Here's hoping for some settled time ahead with the irrigation system.

The bonus of the warmer sunny conditions this week was a bit of colour coming back throughout the courses though not enough to cause any real growth.  It's still very important to sand your divots and repair pitchmarks on greens as a courtesy to other players and to give the turf the best chance.  As I have said before "Leave the course as you would like to find it"!!

Obviously a lot of golf talk this week is directed at the US Open.  I have a few friends who are there either as spectators or volunteering and they are unanimous in their opinion of the incredibly good turf conditions.  I am yet to see any footage but have heard that the greens have been a little bumpy which is a common problem with the type of grass they have there which is the same as Oakmont who have some of the best greens in the world.  A crew numbering in the 40's is the normal staffing level at Shinnecock so the 150 volunteers takes the crew to near 200 for the week!!  Kind of shades the 9 crew at Cool Tweed on Friday which was unusually low though due to some annual and sick leave.


The lunchroom at Shinnecock!!

Just some of the machinery in their shed!!
 

Friday, June 8, 2018

So much for the call of nice winter weather last week.  A particularly cold and wet end to the week although the courses were drying so the rain was welcome for the turf but not so much for the players.  

Our irrigation control system was installed in 2002 and consists of a central computer that communicates with the 25 on course satellites which then operate the sprinklers.  As mentioned a couple of weeks back we are having issues with some of the components in the satellites and that some are now out of production and unavailable.  To ensure that we have some necessary spares we changed the satellite on RHS 9 West to a new irrigation control system known as "GWave" which we have been trialing over the past few years.  GWave is a wireless control system that sends underground radio waves from the controller to the sprinklers which overrides our existing system and so freed up a full bank of 12 components for use as spares elsewhere.  To enable the GWave system to be installed the sprinklers need to be changed over as well and that happened this week.

The US Open golf is on next week at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club  and from all reports the course is in incredibly good condition which it generally is during the golf season.  Shinnecock is one of the most private clubs in the USA and one of the best.  Normal staffing levels are around 30 on the course and that has been lifted to 40 for this season before the army of volunteers arrive for tournament week.  It is a particularly windy site and no two consecutive holes run in the same direction and some cut across each other so it is very difficult to read the wind which makes it very difficult to play.  The USGA do take over course set up for this tournament so hopefully they won't put it over the edge as happened last time they were there.

The layout demonstrating the changes in hole direction.

  

Friday, June 1, 2018

Well what a way to start winter with!!  If that's what is going to be served up I'd take it every day.  A couple of overnight showers to keep the courses ticking along and beautiful sun filled days!!  Let's hope for it.

The grass is still kicking along, particularly on the fairways which have been getting some liquid fertiliser applied to them over the past couple of months.  Their colour is holding very well and I intend to continue the liquid fertilising throughout the winter.  Any growth we can get on the fairways is a bonus with the divots becoming more prominent especially on the short River course doglegs.  As mentioned a couple of weeks ago please repair your divots with sand.

Whilst talking fairways, we have around 34 hectares of mown fairway area which is quite a bit when compared to the average 18 hole course having somewhere between 12 and 16 hectares.  We only have two mowers for fairways which is why you see them mowing in amongst play as we just can't get them all done in front of play.  A really good 6 - 9 am morning session will see about 12 fairways get mown obviously depending on their size and we have some BIG fairways out there.  We also don't really go out of our way to "stripe" the fairways up as you see at many courses as we can't always mow in the same direction which is how you get such a striping effect.  This is because there are many times where we just mow the fastest way possible to stay in front and/or away from play.  The lower photo below shows some of the striping effect whilst mowing 1 River fairway but if you don't keep mowing on the same lines the effect is soon lost.  Throughout the summer months the fairways have a growth regulator applied to them which has the added bonus of preventing the seedhead to form while it reduces growth by up to 50%.   

1W mower in action

1R in action with striping just visible behind.

We get to talk to lots of people on the courses and the positive feedback we get about the courses is very satisfying including one member last week whose praise for the new West greens was such that I can't print most of it but "brilliant" was part of it!  We only operate with a fairly small crew for such a big property with an average of just 11 crew members on course over the past two weeks.  I well remember when I arrived here in June 1999 and there were 19 staff available on my first day!

But when someone plays the course and takes the trouble to put pen to paper (or send an email in this case) about their experience across the whole club then that's very pleasing for all the employees within the club.  Here's what he said;

3 of my golf mates and myself played the VETS comp as visitors, not having played at your club previously and I feel it appropriate to firstly thank you for a wonderful relaxing day on such a brilliant course [ RIVER ]
The PRO SHOP staff were so welcoming and polite which set the day on a special level to begin with.
The HALF WAY HOUSE lady was delightful and friendlyWhile our golf didn't reach ex heights we all will look forward to another visit in the future
Thank you for a most enjoyable adventure