Sunday, January 29, 2012

Hopefully we won't be breaking the rainfall figure for January but we are very close   The 450mm of rain we received from Monday evening to Saturday morning pushed our January total to 580mm which puts January 2012 down as the second wettest on record behind 1951 when 610mm fell and just in front of 2006 when there was 557mm.  The average for January is 188mm and there have been few occasions when more than 400mm has fallen for the month.                                 
I don't remember seeing so much water lying in such volumes around the courses after the main rainfall event has finished.  But I guess we can count ourselves lucky that the river didn't break its banks by too much when you compare us to courses further up the coast such as The Glades and Colonial as the photos below show.  So we can't really complain too much about the water still lying on the courses such as 4 River below.   And spare a thought for Royal Pines and their new Superintendent Lincoln Coombes and staff who are trying to prepare the course for the Ladies Masters which is supposed to start this week.  
Colonial GC

The Glades

4 River fairway pools of water
And trying to pull out a positive from the past week is difficult but the lack of play has the West course greens looking absolutely superb at the moment with almost all pitch marks recovered and the turf very healthy.  If only we could keep them free of pitch marks!

I was very fortunate to have gotten the growth regulator applied to the fairways prior to the rain starting so their growth hasn't been too excessive.  At this stage I doubt if I will try and mow fairways until Thursday which will be two weeks since they have been mown and with no more rain this week they should be back to their best by weeks end.  Growth regulator is also applied to the bunker edges to reduce trimming and to keep the heavy mowers away from the edges.  Unfortunately not all the bunkers got done but the difference on those that have been done is significant.  The area to the right of the golf ball in the photo below has had growth regulator applied and the area to the left hasn't. 
Bunker edge low growth

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The latest

Well the rain has stopped at last although there is a lot more forecast.  It was quite eerie to tour the course this afternoon in the very still, quiet and humid conditions.  There is a lot of standing water on the courses and with the height that the river is running at it will be some time before the water has a chance to subside.  Another 56mm was recorded between 9am and 5pm with some of the heaviest rain I have seen since that horror day in June 2005 when we had 215mm between 9am and 12.30pm and virtually all of the Tweed area shut down.  We have now had just less than 300mm in the past 48 hours.  There are a few more shots from late this afternoon below including one of 9 River tee with more water on it at low tide than it had at high tide.

15 West green from the rear

6 River ladies tee

9 River tee on low tide!!

Wet Wet Wet

Well what can you say?  Living in the sub tropics you have to expect high rainfall but enough is enough.  The courses received 25mm up until 9am on Tuesday and then 154mm until 9am this morning.  Another 50mm has come down in the three hours since.  Couple this with king tides and areas in the Tweed River catchment area with rainfall figures over 300mm and we may finish up suffering some inundation in the low lying areas of the courses.  The 10.30 high tide this morning pushed the water over the levee bank road behind the 1st River green and is preventing water from draining off the courses.  A couple of photos below and my favorite one of the greenside bunker on the 16th River fully playable with no wash or water ponding after 200mm in 24 hours....I just wish the West bunkers were this good!!

9 River tee as an island

Water over levee road on high tide

Rear 15 West green and half way house. 
This is the same water level as the River.
Fully playable 16 River bunker after 200mm

Monday, January 23, 2012

Well the weather certainly did play havoc with last weeks plans after over 4 inches of rain fell early in the week which prevented the tree removal from taking place.  It has been re-scheduled for tomorrow so hopefuuly this lot of rain will clear in time.  The first two bunkers on 6 River have been filled and the area has been prepared for turfing.  Heavy rainfall where the turf comes from means that the turf will not arrive until next Monday.

The West greens certainly enjoyed the rain and a fertiliser application a week prior to the rain kicked in and I have not seen them grow to the extent they are at the moment.  Unfortunately the humid wet weather also means disease which has affected the greens despite them being so healthy.  The constant wind over the past few weeks has also disrupted the spraying programs and I have been unable to get a number of treatments that the greens require at this time of year.  The wind has also severely disrupted the weed control program as well which will hopefully get back on track soon.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

The irrigation problems continued last Friday night with a "phase dropping out" from the main transformer near the half way west snack bar.  This cut power to the pump shed and also the half way west.  Fortunately it happened at 2.30am after the West greens had received about 80% of their irrigation cycle.  The cloudy conditions on Saturday then helped make sure the West greens didn't suffer any heat stress during the day.  It's weeks like this with the irrigation problems we have had that I wish I didn't have Bent greens in the sub tropics.  And thanks to my electrician who was on site within half an hour of calling him at 5.30 am on Saturday morning, all power was restored by 8.30 am which meant that the beer would be cold at the half way west, oh and my pumps were operational again!!

Dangerous Banksia at 1 West

A fairly busy week coming up if the weather behaves although from the forecast that is doubtful.  The Banksia tree on the left of 1 West green will be removed due to the poor health of the tree.  We tried some remedial pruning about 9 months ago but the tree has continued to deteriorate to the point that it is now dangerous.  The small group of trees to the right of 2 River green will also be removed.  These trees were trimmed back a few years ago to allow more light and air movement to the busy traffic area that they impact.  The result was excellent for the turf and in order for the turf to improve further it has been decided to now remove the trees.  The first two bunkers on 6 River fairway will be filled in on Thursday and the area mounded and then re-turfed the following week.  

And over the past few weeks we have had a flock of Black Cockatoos about the course.  Every year they attack the Pine tree at the rear of 12 West green and the damage they inflict is really quite awesome.  The strength they must have in their beaks is extraordinary when you look at what they do to the Pine cones.  Fortunately they don't feed on golf greens like Corellas do as I would hate to see what they would do to a green surface.
Gnawed Pine cone under an untouched one.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Further to the irrigation break, the irrigation system was nearly drained of water and took nearly 3 hours to re-prime.  As part of the re-priming it is crucial to get as much air out of the system pipes as possible as the air can cause further damage to pipework and cause further breaks.  To do this sprinklers are often activated but in the early stages we just plug in to selected valves and allow the air to be blown out this way.  A few members queried why I had water running like this and I took a video which shows just how much air comes out and the recoil force that it has on the pipes.  

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Irrigation woes

Well it wasn't quite the start that I wanted as I checked the flow meter in the pump shed this morning, on the dawn of potentially the hottest day of the summer, to find that it was pumping 3,760 litres a minute which is just about the maximum it can safely do.  It should have been reading zero litres a minute so obviously something wasn't quite right!  It was still quite dark but a quick run up the 2nd West fairway soon showed up the problem with more water from an irrigation blow out than I have ever seen before with three fairways under a considerable amount of water.  The irrigation system had to be shut down as it wasn't possible to isolate the area and the repair was started.

It looks as if the pipe blew out fairly early in the night and so we have lost a lot of water which will impact what can be put out on the course over the coming week, and with no rainfall in the forecast that isn't an ideal situation.  The amount of water lost will probably mean that fairways will not be watered for at least the next five days whilst the dam refills.  The other issue was just how much of the irrigation cycle on the Bentgrass West greens had been effective overnight.  Without knowing for sure and with no back up water available during the day the greens weren't mown this morning.

The repair has been effected but due to the massive amount of water drained from the system we will not be able to re - charge the lines until this evening as the considerable amount of air that has entered the system needs to be purged which can't be done during play. 

The guilty pipe.
In the photo above you can see purple, green and blue tubes running along side the pipe.  These are hydraulic control tube lines that control the operation of the sprinklers and these particular tubes were all the rage in the late 1970's and early 1980's as they were cheap but didn't have a very long lifespan.  They have long been superceded in our system but their presence demonstrates the age of the installation meaning that the pipe has been there for well over thirty years!

Water backed back up to 12 West fairway

The actual break area.  The water line can be seen in the
dew showing just how much water was there.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012


Our summer weed control program has now commenced following a drop in the wind that has seemed to be blowing for the past 3 months.  As has happened before there will be quite a bit of browning off around both courses as expected and regrowth will be rapid.  There will probably be a couple of applications required to get the result required.  The West Course greens and green surrounds were the first areas treated earlier this week.

Now that the Public holiday period has ended we can get back to some normal course maintenance routines.  The tees in particular are due for a fertilise which I have been holding off on so as not to have too much growth through the Christmas break.  The fairways on both courses are certainly enjoying the warm weather and clean cut of the new mowers.  I mentioned in a previous post about preparation times for greens and it is nice to get some more time to prepare the greens for play.  6.00 am tee times and players getting around in 3 hours or less doesn't give much time for us to work on the courses let alone the greens.

President Murray mentioned in his Christmas message that the first two fairway bunkers on the right side of the 6th River fairway are to be filled in.  These works have been scheduled for Thursday January 19.