Wednesday, July 25, 2012

I think I have written before of things not going to plan and this week we had a beauty.  I sent out a crew to look at the blocked drainage sump on the right side of 13 West green thinking that it would be a simple operation as it normally is by just simply clearing the leaves and debris.  A few hours later after some investigation we found that a tree root had grown IN the actual drainage pipe and was the cause of the drain not running.  We often pull out what we refer to as "horses tails" which are clumps of fibrous roots but I can't remember ever seeing a pipe full of one root.  So a simple clear the drain turned into quite a large scale operation including replacing the bunker drainage and associated outlets and that has left quite a bit of surface damage.  I will wait for the area to settle before it is returfed when some warmer conditions arrive.  The worrying thing is that if the root was that big in a drainage pipe, one wonders how many roots are feeding off the green!! 

Tree root growing inside the 80mm pipe.
More of the tree root in the pipe

What a mess!

And after some fine weather finally the courses have dried out and are both in great shape and will play very well on the week end.  All turf areas are in nearly as good a condition as they could be for this time of year.  Hopefully the weather will hold for the Vets week of golf next week.  In excess of 550 players on the courses each day makes for some busy times ahead.

The bunker question posed last week has had some interesting comments and I will endeavour to cover that topic next week.

Friday, July 20, 2012

We were lucky enough to get a mention in the latest issue of Australian Golf Digest when 6 Australian golf course Architects were asked which hole in Australian golf they would like to redesign and why.  Local Gold Coast Architect Richard Chamberlain selected our 1st West and here is his opening paragraph; "The West Course at Coolangatta & Tweed Heads is a beautiful layout, not overly long, but ideal for its member base. There are several instances, however, where the route to the green from a fairway bunker is hindered by trees. Strategically, a bunker should invoke a penalty for hitting your ball in a wrong spot but when the recovery shot is baulked by trees it acts as a “double penalty”, which I believe is particularly unfair. The 1st hole is not the worst example of this problem but a golf hole I believe can be significantly improved for very little outlay".  Grab yourself a copy of the magazine to read Richard's comments and other possible alterations to the hole.

I must say tree’s hindering the desired golf shot has been a pet dislike of mine for my entire golfing career as well although as a confirmed slicer I am generally trying to find my way past the big Fig tree on the right side opposite the bunkers on the 1st West.  However I think Richard raises a valid point about the hole.  Some may argue that you shouldn't hit it there in the first place but if that was a genuine argument then no player should ever complain about a bunker anywhere ever if that's going to happen!!  It could also be argued that you don't necessarily have the right to play forward towards the green when you are in a bunker (hazard) and a chip out sideways may be the order of the day as is expected at The Open at Royal St Lytham last night. 
And do we just stop at 1st West or remove other trees that impede recovery from a bunker as per the photos below?  As a bit of an exercise I thought I would let the readers have their say and would like to get your opinions on the matter.  Please either add a comment to the blog or if you are unsure on how to do that then please email me direct at and I will let you know the results in a few weeks.

LHS bunkers 1st West

LHS fairway bunker 18 River

Drive bunkers on 10 West
Drive bunkers 2nd West

Friday, July 13, 2012

With the amount of rain we have been having there have not been many players on the West course this past week which is great for the greens as they get a nice break from the normal player numbers and are looking very good.  The little spike in temperature is also helping them along (I recorded 24 degrees at the shed today) and it is unfortunate that the third round of the Club Championships needed to be cancelled as the greens are looking and putting beautifully at the moment.  As I write this the rain has started falling again just topping up the already sodden turf with many fairways totally "casual water".

The next time you do venture out on to the West you may notice some temporary fencing adjacent to the maintenance compound to the left of the 9th West following the removal of the underground fuel storage tanks this week. The tanks have been in the ground some 30 years and have been replaced by an above ground version to the north of the shed.  New regulations governing underground tanks have been introduced into NSW that make it financially unviable to keep them in the ground due to the various compliance issues and cost.  So the tanks have been removed and we now await the results of some soil tests to confirm that there is no contamination in the area.  The excavated sand is being "farmed" at the moment to allow for it to be re-used in backfilling the hole which will be done in three weeks time if everything goes as planned.

The old fuel bowser

The new fuel storage

The old tanks about to leave the premises

I had an interesting visitor to my office this week when a Kookaburra decided to perch himself on my whiteboard.  He was looking around for some food I suspect and I was hoping it wouldn't be a snake!!

The visitor

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

At tonight’s Golf Management Meeting it was decided to make the call to have NO motorised buggies on the West course for the rest of this week – Wednesday July 11, Thursday July 12 and Friday July 13. The course is exceptionally wet and there is already significant damage from buggies, both motorised and walking and at this time of year there is virtually no scope for turf recovery.  The forecast is also for a 90% chance of 10 – 15 mm on both Thursday and Friday, and unfortunately that weather website has been very accurate of late. 

The call on motorised buggies status on the River course will still be made on a day to day basis with the Club website being updated by 5.30am daily.

There have been a few comments made about the unusually difficult hole locations for last Fridays Members competition and there is an explanation for this.  The weather radar at 5.30am on Friday morning showed a huge rain band heading towards us from the south east.  Byron Bay had received 15mm at that time (and finished up with 50mm for the day) and the designated hole changer on the West course was instructed to ensure that the holes were in locations that would not go under water and keep the greens playable.  Remarkably the rain dissipated before it got to us and the greens stayed fully playable for the day until another front hit at 2.30pm.  Unfortunately that meant that the hole locations were bordering unfair for the earlier players.  My apologies for any inconvenience to members. 

Friday, July 6, 2012

We dodged the rain until just on 2.30pm today after watching Byron Bay receive 50mm during the day.  12mm fell on our courses which was quite heavy at times but once again has many fairway areas very wet.  The strong winds have made the courses quite messy with a lot of tree debris around but the wind had helped dry the courses until this afternoon.

At least the storm wasn't as bad as the one that hit the AT&T tournament on the US PGA Tour last week that saw the course closed to spectators on the Saturday.  80 mph winds hit the course and uprooted as many as 40 trees including a 75 foot tree that crashed onto the 14th fairway.  Tiger Woods' group played in front of a gallery of 3 for much of the day!!

One of the trees down at Congressional.

Back to the Tweed and we were finally able to get some normal works carried out this week on dry ground which was nice including getting the West greens sanded in preparation for Round 3 of the Club Champs next week.  The sanding helps true the surface up and rather unfortunately in our case also fills in the poorly or unrepaired pitch marks.  The cry of "sand sand and more sand laddie" was the favourite line of Old Tom Morris the original greenkeeper at The Old Course.  I would love to get more sand on the greens but the disruption to our large player numbers precludes this.  It has been an interesting time over the past few months trying to keep up with all the tasks I would like to do with the constant rainfall. 

Scheduling works on a busy golf course such as ours is not an easy task with member competitions on every day coupled with early tee off times.  Unfortunately we do have to work in and amongst the players on a regular basis to get the work done.  It is interesting when the Club Championships are coming up and players obviously expect a ramp up in course preparations for the event which we certainly do.  We then come to the important first day tomorrow and find ourselves with a 2 tee 6.30 am start on both courses with first light at 6.20am.  Suffice to say we do as much as possible in front of the play.

Speaking of Scottish golf courses and the long serving Course Manager at Carnoustie GC has recently retired and the Club honored him by renaming the 11th hole on the Championship Course "John Philp" in his honour which is a great tribute.  And just out of interest you don't often see Carnoustie under water but the photo below shows what can happen after a 40mm downpour!!

Carnoustie under water
And our rainfall figures for the first 6 months of 2012 totalled 1825mm which compares to our annual average of around yes it's been wet!!

Good luck to all the layers in the Championships, I trust you enjoy the courses especially the champion who left these two divots in the middle of the back tee on 15 River today.  I'd suggest that if you are taking divots like that on the tee of a 400 metre hole that a phone call to our teaching Pro Ross Moodie might be in order.

15 River tee today