Thursday, September 30, 2010

Winds of change

As mentioned earlier this week the Board has approved the purchase of a fan that will be installed at the rear of the 17th West green.  Avondale GC in Sydney have used the fans over the past two summers with great success on greens that have little or no air movement around them.  This is certainly the case for the 17th West green where I have observed on many occasions the flag hanging limp from no air movement compared to the 13th and 16th green flags that are fluttering away.  This lack of air movement also results in increased ambient, surface and soil temperatures which have been consistently recorded at 17th West in comparison to other greens.  The temperature measurements at the 17th (and the Bent practice green) are regularly 3 – 6 degrees warmer than other greens.  I have recorded a soil temperature at 17 West of 36 degrees which when compared to the text book telling you that Bentgrass roots start dying at 25 degrees illustrates just how tough an environment it is in.

Side view

Fans aren’t a new phenomenon on golf courses and have been used in Australia before and particularly in the USA.  Colonial CC in Fort Worth Texas who host a PGA Tour event have up to 12 fans situated at each green and Augusta National have them at every green also.  Up until now almost all fans have been of the pedestal / blade type but they are noisy and don’t move the air as required. The fan we have specified has been engineered and purpose built to suit the requirements of a golf green and is designed and made in Australia. 

The air movement has been designed to “flow” across the surface and provide the cooling effect rather than become turbulent and mix the air.  It should have no noticeable effect on the playing of the game and will most likely be positioned adjacent to one of the Palm trees at the rear of the green mounted on a pole at a height of 1.2 metres to make it level with the turf surface.  The fan is expected to run 24/7 from November through March.   Three phase power is required and this will be trenched from the pump shed in the coming weeks.  It is anticipated to have the fan installed by November 1st.        

Front on view of fan

Monday, September 27, 2010

Week commencing September 27th

Well the grass is certainly growing now with the temperatures creeping up and the daylight hours lengthening at long last.  On mornings like this morning I sometimes wonder if we will ever catch up with the grass growth, required spraying programs and still maintain a playing surface.

This week our main task, apart from mowing, will be to upgrade the irrigation on the short range practice fairway by adding some sprinklers along the car park fence, replacing some irrigation control tube and replacing the feed to the drinking fountain at the 10th River tee.  There will be some major trenching involved with this operation as we need to trench from the irrigation control box at the rear of the 9th River green all the way along the short range and across the front of the car park.  Preparatory works will commence on Monday 27th with trenching taking place on Tuesday.  The job should be completed by Thursday. 

Friday, September 24, 2010

The week that was

Well it was a fairly quiet week on the golf course thanks to the weather although today certainly made up for it with a huge day of play on both courses.  Off the golf courses and it was an interesting week to say the least.

Firstly the news that a groundsman at a Gold Coast golf course was operating his rough mower on an embankment next to a dam late last week and the machine slid down the bank and into the water with him still on board.  The machine pinned him under water where he was unable to surface until two of his workmates dived in and freed him.  He was under water for about a minute and a half and needed to be revived on the bank.  Fortunately he is ok with some cracked ribs and "sore all over" but it is an unfortunate reminder of just what can happen whilst operating machines on sloping ground.

One of my Apprentices was involved in a car crash on the way to work on Wednesday morning and finished up in hospital and required surgery to an injured knee.  At this stage he appears to be on the way to making a full recovery.

And then to top the week off I attended my first Captain at Cool Tweed Brian Kingston's funeral today.  Brian was a great fellow and Captain of the Club as the various tributes illustrated.  Funerals are always a sad affair but I think everyone had a smile on their face at some stage as some of the typical "Kingo" stories were relayed.

On Tuesday this week I visited Avondale Golf Club in Sydney to look at some air circulating fans they have installed adjacent to five of their greens that suffer badly from heat stress and subsequent disease during summer.  Several Cool Tweed Board Members had already seen the fans in August when they were in Sydney and the Club has now decided to install one of these fans at the 17th West green prior to this summer.  I will dedicate a complete article including some photos and expected benefits of the fans next week.  Suffice to say that Avondale Superintendent David Warwick claims that without the fans his greens would not have made it through Sydney's brutal summer (for putting greens that is) last year.  It's perplexing when you look at the 17th West green now and how good it looks, that it can cause so much heartache in summer.

On a bit of a lighter note one of our former groundstaff now works for a sports construction company and he leaves for New Delhi on October lay the turf in the main stadium!!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Week commencing September 20th

A fairly quiet week this week with three staff on leave and not a great weather forecast so it will pretty much be routine maintenance.  We have a busy month coming up with a number of small projects planned that I will outline for you shortly.

The West greens have finally slowed their growth and are now virtually fully recovered from the renovation.  There are some areas of burn on a few, most notably 5 and 9, which was caused by the fowl manure that was used in conjunction with the topdressing sand.  5 and 9 are also the West greens with the most shade so their recovery and general health is always behind the other greens.

We took advantage of the rain to get some fertiliser on the tees on both courses and the buggy path entrances and exits today and some of the shaded fairway areas were fertilised last week.  Although the daily temperatures so far in September are about average we are a long way behind last year with "spring green-up".  At this stage last year we had already had 11 days of 27 degrees or more compared with only 3 this year.   Year to date we are also about 466 mm short of last years total with 1227 mm having fallen on the courses.  It always amazes me how much more rain we get than Coolangatta airport with 220 mm more already recorded on the courses year to date 2010.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Sanding greens

The River greens are growing well now and have now been de-thatched and sanded twice over the past two weeks.  This will now continue to be done weekly as weather and the golfing program permits and has a number of benefits.  It is generally the best accepted method of thatch control but I mainly use it to true the surface up and help put a little bit of speed into the greens by reducing the amount of friction between the ball roll and the greens surface.  After the sand is applied it is then rubbed in to the surface and there is little disruption to play.  Some courses refer to it as dusting but as I put it on a little heavier I like to call it sanding, although some people seem to have a phobia about the word sand and golf greens but as mentioned above, in this case there is little disruption to play.

Sanding 17 River green

Sand has been used to fine tune golf greens for a long time.  Old Tom Morris who was the "Keeper of the Greens" at Saint Andrews for many years in the late 1800's was famous for his response to the question - "What should we do to improve the greens" to which he replied (in a heavy Scottish accent) "Sand, sand, and more sand Laddie."  Old Tom is considered as the father of greenkeeping and was responsible for many advancements in the presentation of golf courses.  Amongst his many  achievements was to reduce St Andrews from over 20 holes back 18 which then became the standard for golf courses throughout the world.  Ohh, and he also won the Open Championship four times!!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Encroachment 2

It is now easy to see the areas treated with weed killer on the River greens where the surrounding "green" couch has encroached into the putting surface.

The photo below shows the progress of spraying the “green” couch out of the 328 greens.  It is easy to see that the 328 has melted out very quickly and the “green” couch is still quite strong.  This is the reason that you need at least 3 applications of weed killer to hopefully get a full kill and even after 3 sprays this is not always guaranteed.  At this stage there has only been some minor tracking of the weed killer away from the treated area with the 10th River green the worst, even though it only had 2 relatively small patches sprayed!   

Still green on the practice green

Week commencing Sept 13th

Apologies for the break in posting but I was fortunate enough to be a guest of John Deere Ltd at Arundel Hills GC last week for the final of their Trans Tasman Challenge.  Considering we have similar budgets and staffing levels I came away fairly pleased with what we produce on our 36 hole complex.  Fortunately the golf was a modified 3 ball ambrose event and I had a couple of handy partners!!

A fairly busy week coming up with a number of spray operations planned for the greens including some growth regulator on the West greens.  The River greens will be lightly de-thatched on Tuesday and then lightly sanded on Thursday.

The spring tree works are coming to a close with some more dead trees to be removed and trimming to continue.  Thursday will see the start of stump removal throughout the courses, which will take at least two days to complete.

The front left bunker on 12 River will have some remedial work carried out on the face of the bunker.  A pictorial of the works will follow later this week.

The artificial tee on 7 West was in play for last Wednesdays comp and will be again this coming Saturday.  Please let us know what you think.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010


Foreign Couch sprayed out.
We have just treated some of the "foreign green Couch" that has infiltrated the River greens and you will notice over the coming weeks that there will be a few dead patches develop in some of the greens.  The plan is for another 1 or 2 weedkiller applications, then these dead areas will be plugged out in early October prior to the River greens renovations.  Not all the greens have been treated as some don't have any foreign Couch in the centre of the greens and the 9th has so much that too large a section would need to be removed and turfing would be required meaning that the green would need to be closed to play.  A proposal is currently being looked at for this green.  The Couch practice green has had some large areas treated, but again the risk of tracking the chemical means that the entire green could not be treated at once.
At this stage we have only treated patches in the middle of the greens as treating the encroaching Couch on the edges would require the greens to be closed to play as above.  This was mentioned at the Course Information session earlier this year when I advised that the greens would need to be closed, as to achieve a result with the weedkiller you would require at least 3 applications, and the chance of this chemical being "tracked" on to the green is a danger.  The 3 applications need to be 7 - 10 days apart to achieve a result and the greens would then need to have the entire perimeter sod cut out and the turf replaced and such a process is impossible whilst play continues.  We tried to perform this operation on greens 11,16 and 17 on the River course in 2007 with only 1 spray and leaving the greens in play.  Almost all the foreign Couch returned to these areas within 12 months.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Some warmth at last

The River greens were fertilised last week which was nicely timed with the warmer temperatures and 16 mm of rain that fell on Saturday / Sunday. The greens have now gone from being quite sparse and unthrifty to having a lot of growth which is great for the turf health but means that the greens will slow up somewhat. Two weeks ago the greens looked virtually worn out after a huge amount of constant play throughout the winter and I was indeed wondering if we would get them through, so this burst of growth is most welcome. Weather permitting, the River greens will have a light sanding to help even the surface out and to compliment the recent turf growth this week.
A lush looking 5th River green
The West greens are growing furiously with the weather conditions and will actually need to be slowed down to restore the putting surface fully. That’s one of the ironies of the renovation as you need to have the plant growing so fast to get back through the sand then you have to turn around and slow it down once it is.  To give you an idea of their growth, three weeks ago just prior to the renovation the grass catchers would need to be emptied twice over the mowing of 18 greens.  This morning after not being mown since Saturday, the catchers were being emptied twice per green!

Some more tree roots will be removed this week and that will be the end of that program for this year. Some dead and dangerous tree removal will also start this week with contractors on site for the bigger trees. River tees 5 and 6 will be cored and sanded this week following the positive response of the par 3 tees to this operation. 

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Thanks a lot

Yes, thanks a lot to the very considerate person who decided to take this chunk out of the 3rd West green today.  I realise the greens are frustrating at the moment just coming out of renovation but in my opinion this is about the worst breach of golfing etiquette a player can perform.  Unfortunately we can't spell the greens during the year so this is the only break they get and unlike most courses we only have one major renovation on each course each year. 


It makes you wonder why my staff and I go to so much effort on the golf courses sometimes when you see vandalism like this.