Friday, November 20, 2020

A windy and messy week on the courses with the Gum trees losing a lot of leaves and bark which is natural for this time of year.  At least we don't have deciduous trees like the southern States where they really do make a mess.  A friend of mine on a course with such trees commented to me once that ''people who say they love the colours of autumn have never worked on a golf course raking them up''!!

The West fairways got fertilised as planned on Tuesday and for a little while on Tuesday afternoon it looked like we were going to get an unexpected storm but it unfortunately fizzled.  So we had to rely on the irrigation system to water it in which isn't perfect but that's the way it has to be.  The motorised buggy traffic also breaks a lot of the fertiliser up which again isn't perfect but unless we close for a few days, can't be avoided.  The problem with the buggy traffic is that it breaks the coating that is on each individual granule and releases the fertiliser earlier than required. They also cause a bit of a burn as they drive over the fairway as per the picture below.

 

Wheel burn on 7W fairway.

Some even got picked up and tracked acoss 16W green
 

The recovery of the unwanted green couch in 1R green really accelerated with the warmth of last weekend to the point that we are not going to be able to control it.  As the picture of the rhizome showed last week the depth of where the shoots are coming from makes it impossible to hand weed them out.  After consultation with Golf Management Committee it has been decided to excavate the perimeter of the green out and refill with fresh material as per the operation on the West greens and then stolonise.  This will remove all the rhizomes and ensure that it is weed free.  These works are proposed to commence on Monday December 30. 

And I was reading some old golf journals during the week and came across this classic photo of a very classy follow through.  What really caught my eye though was the footwear??!!


Good follow through.

 
Not on my greens thanks!!

 

 

Friday, November 13, 2020

We got another uneven result from the recent application of growth regulator to the fairways which was done in the last week of October.  We had a problem with the previous application and thought it was solved but alas it wasn't.  The difficult aspect is that it takes two weeks for the result to become evident so it is hard to know what has and is happening but we think we are on to it this time.  It is frustrating as we have used the same machine / technology since 2004 and never had the problem before and have probably sprayed eight times a year since then.

18W fairway streaks.
 

1R green has put on some leaf at last but as mentioned last week is much slower than expected.  We did a little bit of investigation this week by removing some plugs from the green and unfortunately found some rather juicy couchgrass rhizomes 50mm under the surface.  We can only try and keep painting herbicide on to any new invasive shoots while we wait for the 328 grass to start moving and cover in.

Rhizomes next to arrows.

 

The weather is now warming up to the stage that we should start to get some growth in the fairways and to assist that the West course fairways will be fertilised next Tuesday weather permitting.  The extra motorised buggy traffic with the Covid rules and extra play has really put some strain on the fairways in particular with wear at an all time high in my time here.

 

Friday, November 6, 2020

8mm in the storm last Saturday afternoon / evening was certainly most welcome.  Despite all the predictions of a wet summer we are still pretty dry at the moment.  As mentioned previously the constant overnight wind has quite an adverse effect on the operation of the sprinklers so a couple of calm nights would be much appreciated.  Some of the roughs, particularly Kikuyu areas have started to grow, and I was asked this week why we don't apply growth regulators to the roughs.  Well on some of the shorter rough we can and do but on the longer rough there is what is known as a ''spray shielding effect'' which is when the length of the grass prevents the spray solution from being able to penetrate through the canopy and make contact with the leaves as required.

The grassing of the edges at 1R green are progressing much slower than anticipated.  There is also the problem of rhizomes of the foreign couchgrass now popping their heads up as can be seen in the photo below.  It appears that we got an excellent kill of all the surface leaf / plant matter but as the rhizomes tunnel under the surface then sprout we weren't able to make contact with them.  The one below is a good 75cm into the green.  We have been painting them to try and control them but time will tell if they get too invasive again.  The ball in the top photo is next to a shoot from a rhizome and the lower photo is a close up, which also shows how much new 328 growth there is which is hard to see from standing so that is encouraging.  It just needs to grow!!

Distance from the edge.

Close up of the new shoot.

 

Friday, October 30, 2020

A great week of storms and subsequent rainfall for the courses with just over 80mm of rain falling on the courses and what a difference it has made, particularly to the fairways.  Although I think we were lucky not to get the storm on Thursday afternoon which had some pretty serious hail come down.  See the radar below.  The roughs have also started to grow and we haven't really had this amount of heat, humidity and rainfall concurrently for a couple of seasons.  

 

An application of growth regulator went out on the fairways this week to try and slow them down.  The growth regulator not only slows the growth down it also helps the plant green up and become more resilient.  It has also been proven that it aids in divot recovery and also increases root growth which I have witnessed firsthand.  A few years ago when we had the bentgrass greens I was applying the product as a trial on the nursery.  I commented to the rep that I couldn't really see much difference on the surface so was unsure about the benefit.  We took a couple of core samples and washed away the soil to expose the root system and the result is in the photo below with the incredible difference in roots in the treated area on the left.


The River greens are now back down to normal mowing height and will receive a sanding on Monday to help level the surface out.  The greens probably won't be mown for a few days while the sand settles in next week.  The West greens renovation has been postponed due to the Club hosting the NSW Open qualifying event which is known as the Tweed Coast Open.  It also includes a Pro am on Sunday December 13 and 36 holes of qualifying on the Monday and Tuesday following.  The West course will still be closed as planned on Monday November 23 to allow us to do a light ''mini renovation'' in preparation for the event.  Given the lack of tournament play available for Pro's in the Covid world you would think it would be a pretty good field with $50,000 on offer.


 

Friday, October 23, 2020

We received 48mm in the downpour that accompanied the storm last Sunday night but unfortunately the bulk of the water ran off and was of little benefit to our dry soil profiles.  Our predominantly sand profile is a great advantage when you get the rains but when they don't come it is nigh on impossible to keep enough water up to the fairways in particular.  The 7mm that we received on Thursday was a very different matter though with just about every drop soaking in.  A pretty wet looking forecast for the next few days and into next week so hopefully there will be some rainfall there for us.

We took advantage of the rain and got some fertiliser out on the tees and some of the wear areas so that should hopefully see some green up.  It is still too cool, especially the soil temperatures, to really get some serious growth happening but with the humidity today it may only be just around the corner.  The River greens are recovering well and the same goes for them regarding the soil temperatures so recovery will be a little slow.

1R green surround looks good with a lot of shoots showing already.  It's only a week since planting and I would like to think by this time next week there should be a lot of leaf starting to happen.

There has been a lot of talk about bunker raking throughout the golfing world since the start of the pandemic and the age old discussion of rakes in or out of the bunker has been at the forefront.  Well a golfer in Melbourne has come up with a potential solution by developing a ''personal golf rake'' that fits neatly into a golf bag and even comes with a head cover.  The rake head folds down snug along the extendable handle and it just slides in your bag. Who knows if they will become the ''new norm''?



 

Friday, October 16, 2020

A highly successful River greens renovation early this week and then the unexpected rain on Wednesday morning was just what we wanted and the 10mm in a couple of heavy showers settled the greens in nicely.  It was also great for the fairways as they were starting to dry out although a lot more than 10mm is required to really get the courses going but I am certainly not complaining.  It had been twenty five days since we had any rain which is very unusual for us even though we have been dry over the last couple of years in general.  It is not as bad as August and September 2017 when we had just one fall of 4mm for the two months.

The outer edges of 1R green were over planted on Wednesday as planned and it seemed to be a very successful operation and it is now a matter of wait and see just how much comes up.  It will take up to twelve weeks to get a full cover on the area.

The last application of growth regulator to the fairways has had a very unusual response and there are some ''streaky'' lines apparent on many of the fairways.  To be honest we are not sure exactly what happened as the sprayer is one of our most reliable machines and seemed to operate as per normal.

Stripy effect on 1W fairway.

 

Friday, October 9, 2020

The north wind that we have had this week has really dried the courses out and we really do need some rain so hopefully one of the scattered storms in the area this afternoon makes its way to Cool Tweed..  The way the leaves are dropping off the trees is a good tell tale sign that the trees are struggling for moisture as well.

It's that time of year again with the River greens renovation scheduled for next week.  The weather forecast has no rain in it so we should get a good run at them.  The dry does mean that the sodium levels are through the roof and the greens are under some stress already.  We were in a similar dry period last year and the greens really took a hit although we are going a month earlier than last year so the weather is also somewhat cooler and that will slow recovery as well.  You really need to have good soil temperatures to aid recovery with warm season turfgrass.

The greens will be scarified in at least four directions up and back on the same line and the de-thatched up and back in up to two directions.  The photos below show the scarifier and de-thatcher heads.  The scarifiers will be set at 5mm depth and the de-thatchers at 3mm depth.  The greens will then be hollow tine aerated with 10mm tines and will only penetrate 50mm.  With the undulations in the greens this is hard to do as the machine naturally shifts up when travelling over mounds.  Following the aeration the greens will have some amendments and fertiliser added and the quantity and type will vary depending on the green and applicable soil test results.

On Wednesday next week we will be planting the edges of 1R green with some cores and stolons so the green will be out of play for four weeks while the turf establishes.  It should take about twelve weeks to attain full cover but the area will be playable whilst it is growing in after the initial four weeks.  The reason we need to close the green is it will require constant irrigation to ensure the new material survives and starts to grow and to prevent foot traffic from having a detrimental effect.

De-thatcher heads 


Scarifier heads.


Hollow tine heads.
 

 

 

Friday, October 2, 2020

The weather stayed fine and we had a very productive two days on Monday and Tuesday this week while the West course was closed to play for maintenance.  We were able to get all the West course greens solid tine aerated three times in the two days and used the largest solid tine on the greens yet.  We normally use a 6mm diameter tine but this time went up to 9mm which doesn't sound much but it sure was a difference. as the photo below shows.  The greens were done twice with the 9mm and once with the 6mm and the tining followed a de-thatch and double mow.  We also got all the West tees scarified which is a little early weather wise but it's a messy , dusty job that is better done with no play.

 

9mm tine on the right.

And a video below shows the finish on the green after the first pass.

 



We also did some more tree root removal from the fairways as well as applying a growth regulator to all the West course fairways to help control the seedhead which is one of the actions the product can perform in addition to growth regulation.  At this time of year with not so much growth, a lower rate is used specifically for the seedhead.  1R green also received it's second application of herbicide in preparation for the re-planting of the greens edges.

And how we didn't get some much needed rain out of the front that went through on Thursday afternoon is beyond me.  The radar ''lied'' for once!!

 

The radar on Thursday afternoon!!

 

Friday, September 25, 2020

Another beautiful week of weather and lots and lots of golf.  I mentioned last week about a couple of signs of spring arriving and this week saw another sign that I look for and that is a Jacaranda tree that I pass regularly has started to flower.  I checked last years date and it was identical so we are possibly about the same as last year.  I know in the USA Superintendents are very big on aligning their maintenance programmes around what is happening elsewhere in nature and I have tried a bit myself over time, hence watching the flowering patterns of some plants.  The odd thing about that is that we have a Jacaranda in our front yard less than 200 metres from the aforementioned one and it is always at least four weeks behind.

As mentioned a few posts back we bought a temporary green into play on 1R this week while we prepare for the removal of the foreign grass invasion into the greens surface.  This is the first of potentially three applications to ensure that we get a kill.  We need to close the green to play to prevent the chemical being moved on to the greens surface by foot traffic and the first application is the most important and done at the highest rate while all the grass is actively growing.    The sprayed out areas will be cored and then the green will be renovated and the renovated material will be placed in the cored areas of the dead zones to re-generate and cover in.  This will be done on Wednesday October 14 and the temporary green will be in play for at least four weeks while the turf establishes.  The lower photo shows an area on the bottom left of the collar that was sprayed out where we will trial a different collar grass to see if it is less invasive than the normal Couchgrass we use.

Sprayed area on 1R green.

Spray job finished.

 

The West course will be closed from 7am on Monday for two days which will allow us to do a mini renovation on the greens.  It is planned to solid tine aerate the greens at least three times over the two days to allow for some very important air exchange and also to help soften the surface which can happen following a aeration program.  It's a process that we just don't have time to do while working around play and is normally done on a rainy day when no one is playing.  While the West is closed we will take the opportunity to renovate the West course tees as well. 

And while we bask in the sun up here relatively free from Covid restrictions spare a thought for Victorians.  This is the main street in Ballarat today!!  Golf is still allowed in regional Victoria and apparently there were still some players out today!!


 

Friday, September 18, 2020

A beautiful week of weather and maybe spring has now sprung?  On Tuesday we had a very sleepy Carpet Python crossing 13R fairway and several bee swarms as well as the return of the Rainbow Bee Eaters to the courses, which are all good signs of spring.  Some of the grass is also starting to move which is not before time as with the amount of cart traffic and play we are experiencing some areas are just plain worn out.  The seed head is starting to show on some of the different Couch varieties around the courses which is also a sign of warmer temperatures.  Fortunately we have had better rainfall this year which helps enormously with the turf's resilience.  The past two years we had around 230mm of rain falling between May and August compared to 425 this year and most forecasts are for a wet summer so we will wait and see on that one.

A productive week on the courses with the River greens de-thatched and double mown on Tuesday which as I have mentioned before is quite a rarity for us to achieve, within our maintenance time frames.  We also started on some tree root removal in some fairways and will continue that in the coming weeks.  The tractor mounted root pruner will also make an appearance over the coming weeks down the sides of fairways.  

Tree root snaking out on 5R fairway.


The world of golf's eyes are pretty much firmly on the US Open at Winged Foot and as always there is much talk about the course.  I haven't seen any first round coverage yet but people seem to be upset that the scores were so low.  It was apparently quite soft and calm and with the shortened daylight hours at this time of year they were probably concerned about players finishing.  They are estimating that 90% of the course prep work will take place in the dark which they are well set up for with mobile light towers and obviously all machinery having lights.  The normal crew of 55 will be bolstered by 85 volunteers which is amazing that so many were allowed given Covid.  And speaking of lots of people, apparently there will be up to twelve marshals on each hole basically acting as fore-caddies to prevent lost balls.

Kudos to the crew though as the early photos I have seen has the course looking pristine.  The course was completely overhauled between 2016 and 2018 and the focus since that finished was June 2020 for the US Open.  Earlier this year thanks to Covid, that became September 2020 and threw up a major curve ball as it is the end of summer and it is a cool season turfgrass course, so they had to keep the grass totally pristine throughout a full summer, which is no mean feat.  Don't get me wrong, Winged Foot is always pristine, but to maintain US Open level pristine, including five inch long rough throughout a summer, is phenomenal.

A lot of the restoration work focused on the greens which are, and always have been, treacherous.  All bunkers and tees were re-built and several holes were lengthened.  Most of the play lines are as they were as can be seen at 18 tee below.  The photo at the top is Jim Furyk on 18 tee in 2006 and below is 18 tee for this year.  Pretty tight lines??!!



Furyk on 18 tee 2006.

18 tee this year!!



Friday, September 11, 2020

22mm in the rain event yesterday and hardly a drop ran off which was very welcome as we were getting quite dry again and the pump situation hasn't been helping.  It has been a very dry August and September period although the water table is still holding up which is evidenced by the dams at 7 / 8 West still holding a good amount of water.  The 22mm takes us over two metres of rainfall for the year with three months to go.  Rainfall records for the Tweed Heads site have been kept since 1886 and in the 134 years there have only been 30 years when over two metres has been recorded with eight of those happening since 2006.

Back to the pump station and a couple of repairs this week have us pumping at about 80% and with a new manifold delivered today and hopefully installed early next week we should be back to full capacity which will be nice.  It was a good week on the repair side as well with no pipe blow outs and just a couple of niggly little problems in the satellite control boxes.

We were able to get the greens on both courses de-thatched today which is quite rare to get that done in one day.  The forecast rain obviously put a few people off and we were able to take full advantage.  We also started to de-thatch the West collars today which is the area immediately around the green.  The constant edging and work done to the greens means that the green surface level can fall below the collar and create what us turfies call a "well'' effect.  So we will be starting to de-thatch the collars more often to try and combat this issue.

I was watching some old golf tapes last week and came across this promo from the 1998 Victorian Open and Golf Australia had their own show with none other than Cool Tweeds Nicole Lowien as host.  I must say I don't remember the show but it just shows how far golf has fallen down in the ''must watch'' stakes.  Hopefully the boom that is currently being experienced in golf around the world will lift the games profile back up somewhere near where it was.  That 1998 Vic Open was played at Victoria GC in Melbourne and the crowds were absolutely huge and it was played without any big names apart from the leading Australians of the day.  Incidently it was won by West Australian Brad King who was a looong hitter in those days....wonder whatever happened to him? 

 



Friday, September 4, 2020

Another frustrating week in the pump shed after a very optimistic start on Monday when the foot valve (arrow to it below) was pulled out.  Upon inspection there was considerable corrosion along one of the welds and several small holes were evident which pointed to where the air was getting in.  The rubber gasket was also badly worn which would not have helped.  We replaced the foot valve and re-connected and after pressurising the system we still had air affecting the flow rate of the pumps.  It is still spasmodic and affects different pumps so is extremely difficult to find.  Two new components are being fabricated at the moment for installation next week to hopefully solve the problem.  It is still affecting our capacity to irrigate as the pumps will sometimes shutdown mid cycle and therefore no water gets to the courses so obviously the greens are the first priority.

Suction pipe being lifted out of the well.

  
One of the reasons there is a skylight in the pump shed
!!

The fluctuation of pressure throughout the courses is also wreaking havoc with the pipework and we had five ''major'' irrigation repairs that were done on Thursday.  There is already another one ready to go on Monday near 9W green.

The course closure on Tuesday this week gave us the opportunity to de-thatch and sand the River greens and the closure on Friday afternoon allowed us to get the greens double cut and rolled which is a very rare occurrence for us.  The early morning tee times and speed of the first groups makes it very difficult for us to get that amount of work done in front of play.  Unfortunately the wind has dropped a lot of tree debris around the place but other than that the River course is good to go for rounds three and four this weekend.
 
We have had a kangaroo out on the courses over the past couple of weeks and it has now invited a mate along for the hop!!  I have seen a wallaby on the courses a few times before but this is certainly a new one.  Hopefully they won't start breeding and take up residence as they can become quite a nuisance both with their droppings and potential aggressiveness towards golfers.
 
And then there were two!!
 
 

Friday, August 28, 2020

A nightmare of a morning last Sunday while trying to prep the course for the mens foursomes.  The pumps went down just after we started which was crucial as we use a high pressure hose with a special nozzle to blow debris off the greens prior to any work being done on them.  And given the way it blew on Saturday there was a lot of debris to move!!  Using the water is faster and obviously way quieter that petrol blowers so it was quite a disruption.  Then we had another pipe blow out on 13R that required some specialty fittings that we don't stock.  It was one of the ''specials'' that we so often find when we uncover pipe work!!??

Alas further pump shed dramas during the week but at least I have been able to get some water out to greens, tees and some selected fairways with the station operating at about 20% capacity.  We now have two new problems with some air getting sucked into the system which means the pumps start pumping air instead of water and overheat as a result.  It doesn't take much air to cause the overheating and finding it is exceptionally difficult when it isn't an obbvious pinhole as we have had before. 

And the foot valve that connects to the bottom of the suction pipe that is in the well has got a leak which will most likely be a gasket that has worn, or at least here's hoping anyway.  The foot valve is basically a check valve that stops the water from draining out of the suction line and cause the pumps to lose their prime.  The foot valve does all its work 12 feet down the well in the pump shed under water so it is quite an operation to get it out and a franna crane truck will be required to assist.

The footvalve.

The course closure on Tuesday this week gave us the opportunity to de-thatch the West greens and we were also able to get them done again on Friday afternoon during course preps for round one of the championships.  As I mentioned last week you get a far superior result when the greens are dry hence the confidence of going out the day before round one.  In contrast to the River greens there was no sand applied to the West as the surface is so tight there is virtually nowhere for the sand to go so it sits on the surface and then really interferes with the mowers.  Good luck to all competitors in round one tomorrow, we think the course has come up a treat and is good to go!!

Friday, August 21, 2020

We got up to 30 degrees in the shed compound on Wednesday this week which was most welcome but the nights remained a bit cooler which doesn't help turf growth.  The westerly winds that are common at this time of year have kicked in with near gale force experienced on Wednesday afternoon.  As a result this is a messy time of year with tree debris constantly being blown down.  

We did remove the covers from the River course tees in readiness for this weekends Foursomes Championships and it was interesting to see the result.  5R tee is not as shaded as 4 and 18 and it showed with the amount of growth it had put on which required mowing with an old school walk behind spin cut mower.  Considering 4 and 18 are both in total shade they did quite well although it was mainly just leaf growth and there is no real body to the turf cover.  If you have a look at 18 on the extreme RHS there was some more growth there where the tee does get some sunlight.

5R tee lush growth.

 
18R much greener but still sparse.
 
We were able to get the River greens de-thatched and sanded on Tuesday after the ladies with the course closed to play to allow some unhindered maintenance.  Both jobs get a superior result when they are done in dry conditions.  The sand applied contained some gypsum and humate which will not only benefit the greens nutritionally but also helps level the surface. 

And we will start preparing a temporary green on 1R next week just short of the creek.  This is to allow some remedial work done on the creeks rockwall and we will also be removing the foreign grass invasion into the greens surface.  This has been tried before but only one application of herbicide has been applied and the areas cut out and re-turfed only to see the foreign grass recover.  This time we will be applying herbicide on three weekly applications to ensure a kill.  The areas will then be cored and then the green will be renovated and the renovated material will be placed in the cored areas of the dead zones to re-generate and cover in.  The temporary green will be in play when the green is sprayed for at least a day at a time and then for four weeks while the turf establishes.  If all goes to plan the green will receive its first herbicide application on September 21 and then be planted during the River greens renovation week in October.

Friday, August 14, 2020

A whole week without an irrigation blowout dare I speak too soon?  We did have a leak on a town water line to one of the bubblers but that was quite minor so very happy indeed.  All is still dry and humming in the pump shed which is also very relieving.

Not much else to report on the courses this week with a fairly busy time prepping for the first two rounds of the Ladies Champs and dealing with lots of play.  A dual public holiday for Brisbane and the Gold Coast today certainly saw some players arrive.  Some mid-20's temperatures this week as well but no sun yet reaching the shaded tees but hopefully some warmth.  I haven't peeked under the covers on the tees as yet and they will probably stay on until late next week.  The cancellation of the NSW Open qualifying event, whilst disapointing, also took a lot of back tee play pressure off the tees which with Club 4somes and champs plus the Twin Towns Open will be quite intense over the coming month.

What did happen this week was that this blog turned ten years old.  So over the past ten years there have been 469 posts made on the blog to inform members of what is happening on the courses and I trust it has been an informative journey.  It isn't always easy coming up with some pertinent text every week but I think it has been worth the trip to be able to inform members of what is happening on and sometimes off the courses and in the maintenance shed.  Upon flicking back through some of the posts the weather seems to be the dominant subject throughout, which is quite understandable as it is the greatest influencing factor on the game of golf. 

Prior to the blog there was a bi- weekly email newsletter that went out to members that started in July 2006.  There was a section of that one pager that was devoted to "course matters" so members of Cool Tweed have indeed been spoiled with the information they receive from the course as I don't know of any other club that has had such a regular update from the Course Superintendent, particularly for fourteen years.
It's been an amazing ride and I well remember that first newsletter which was born from a conference I attended in 2006 where the presenter encouraged us to "use the internet to communicate with your members"!!  My now wife Michelle was Golf and Functions Manager at the time so we decided to put a newsletter together.  You must remember that that was in the day when people were very cautious in giving out their email address and bulk emails were unheard of.  But we put a sign on the bar and got 24 members signed up so we added our own and some other colleagues and staff (and family!) and the first one went out to 50 addresses with  three simple rules that there was to be no advertising, it would only ever be one page and there would be a section called "course matters" in each issue.  To our amazement the next morning we had over 20 replies saying it was the best thing the club had ever done and so the ride began.  Pretty much the only negative comment came one time when we put a 3mb photo in it and it took  "too long to download" which was of course back in the dial up speed days!!  Circulation finished up at 1100 addresses after four years and then with all the positive response to the course matters section, the blog was born.
 
The first newsletter in 2006

The blogs popularity grew quite quickly and by late 2011 the blog was getting around 65 hits a day.  Early days publication timing was a bit spasmodic but then I settled in to a routine of posting on Friday afternoons at the end of the week and the blog now averages around 100 hits per day and on Friday / Saturday that number regularly exceeds 500 so it reaches far and wide.  So much so that in the past week there have been 38 page views from Ukraine and 22 from Russia!!  Some of the highest page view numbers came when Cyclone Debbie slammed on to the coast in 2017 and earlier this year in February when we recorded nearly one metre of rain.

WEATHER on the blog.  2017 Cyclone Debbie this time.