Friday, October 26, 2012

A fairly hectic couple of weeks with the River green renovations a priority.  The wind has also presented its challenges and has again severely affected irrigation and spraying applications.  80 kmh gusts last Tuesday were about the strongest I have experienced on the courses, especially when it blew like that all day.  The crew have done a great job in cleaning up the debris and if the northerly hadn't blown today the courses would have been picture perfect.

The renovations went well with the same method used as last year with a smaller tine being used meaning less disruption as less sand needs to be applied.  The biggest problem at the moment is the quality of water that is being applied as sodium levels in the water are about 300 parts per million being applied to turf that you want to grow which isn't the ideal scenario.  Following a light scarify at minus 3mm the greens were hollow tine aerated with 6mm tines and then the cores were rubbed back into the green and the remaining "chaff" blown off the surface.  Amendments and fertiliser were then spread and a light dressing of sand applied.  At renovation time there always seems to be something go wrong and this year it was the top dressers turn.  It was working perfectly in testing the Friday before then had a number of issues arise on the Monday without a grain of sand being spread.

The topdresser in pieces.

A busy couple of weeks ahead starting Monday morning with the following works planned;
  • Tree removal at West tees 13, 14 and 15 to allow more sunlight to reach the teeing surface.
  • Surface tree root removal on fairways.  There is a local rule governing relief from the subsequent damage.
  • Remaining tree stumps will be mulched.
  • Select bunkers, generally on the River course will have 80 cubic metres of sand added to them where required. 
  • The oversown tees will be lifted next Friday in readiness for turfing on the following Monday.

There is a lot of planning and co ordination that goes into the organisation of these works but for once I won't mind at all if they are disrupted by some rain.  The dryness has continued and the level in the lakes has dropped dramatically, so much so that the pump that is used to circulate water in the trio of dams at 7 / 8 West had to be pulled up as it was in danger of sucking mud.

Friday, October 12, 2012

The wind has returned and the chill on it had quite a few of my staff reaching for their long pants and the rain yesterday had them looking for their wet weather gear which has been in hibernation for quite some time now.

Red sky in the morning means get the fert out!!
Thursday's "red sky in the morning" was just the sign to get some fertiliser out on to the fairways and I was lucky enough to get 4 tonne out on to 15 of the weaker fairways before the rain hit.  It was certainly quite a front that went through with some very adjacent thunder and lightning.  12 mm of rain came down in 10 minutes then another 7mm drizzled down over the next few hours which was just what the fertiliser wanted, not to mention the rest of the course and our home gardens.  The photo above of "the red sky" shows 4 River fairway after it was fertilised.  The white dots are blobs of foam that are dropped so that the operator can see where his last run was to ensure an even application.

The front about to hit on Thursday

Observant members may notice a few holes in a select number of greens and these are made to extract some soil to a depth of 100mm for a nutrient test to be carried out.  I have been using the same company for quite a few years now and they have an on line library of my previous results against which I can compare.  The same greens are sampled each time to be able to track any changes that may be occurring in the soil profile.  The results also give me a good insight as to what soil amendments will be needed at renovation time.  The local rule allowing relief from "aeration holes" could be used if your ball happens to land in one.

Soil sample hole.

Monday, October 8, 2012

At last the wind has dropped away and we were able to get the courses cleaned up today and actually see some grass on the fairways for a change instead of leaves.  It wasn't all plain sailing as there were only 10 of us on deck this morning, which for 36 holes is very thin.  Priorities come to the fore and the greens and tees are cleared of debris first followed by the fairways and then bunkers.  This mornings runsheet looked like this;
Change holes - 2 men
Mow River greens - 2 men
Spray West greens - 1 man
Blow leaves off greens - 3 men
Blow leaves off tees - 2 men.
That got us through to 9.30am and then we had
Blow off fairways - 4 men
Blow out bunkers - 4 men
Machine maintenance - 1 man
Home sick - 1 man.

When you think that we have nearly 36 hectares of fairways of which about 20 required clearing and 166 bunkers which virtually all needed blowing out it is a tough call to get it all done and not annoy players while we are at it.  The first group in the comp on the West course finishing in 2 hours 45 minutes, whilst excellent for speed of play, only makes it tougher to get the work done.  I use the outfront rough mowers to blow the debris from the fairways and tees and water at high pressure to clear the greens.  Back pack blowers are used in the bunkers and on the cart paths.  With the small crew it is impossible to get the bunkers blown and raked at the same time so apologies for the footmarks in the bunkers today.   

"Leaf collectors"
Blown and playable but a few footmarks

18 River fairway before

18 River fairway nearly clean
As usual at this time of year there is a lot of seedhead on the couchgrass in the fairways.  This is normally controlled by applications of growth regulator at the lower end of the recommended rate which has been applied but has had a patchy result.  No matter how sharp the mowers are they can't keep the seedhead cut so another application will be required. 

Seedhead evident on 11 River fairway.