Monday, December 29, 2014

WOW - just WOW!!  We needed some rain but that was ridiculous320mm fell in the 25 hours until 10am on Sunday December 28 with the bulk of it coming down in the 12 hours from 10pm.  There has been more rain on the courses in a 24 hour recording period with that June day in 2005 when an incredible 382mm was recorded followed by 228mm the next day so I am glad that didn't happen this time.  The rain gauge nearly overflowed and I haven't seen such a volume of water on the courses except in an actual flood event. We must have been very dry though as the courses sucked the moisture in and the drains worked overtime to get the courses playable for Monday with motorised buggies able to use the River course.  

The River course bunkers once again showed their superior design with 3 staff able to re-instate the bulk of them in 8 hours on Monday.  The West bunkers are another story and I doubt we will get much done to them this week so they may remain "out of play" for a while.

3 West green under water

Rain gauge nearly overflowing

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The rain has certainly had its effect with good levels of growth across the courses.  Unfortunately most of the growth is in the roughs and consists of a variety of weeds, particularly Kikuyu.  A letter came in from an interested member recently commenting on the number of weeds present on the courses and part of my reply is that we have to work within the course maintenance budget and quite strict laws under the Pesticide Act and also EPA regulations not to mention what the label of the product says.  As such it is not possible to treat every square metre of the property so areas are priotorised and are treated accordingly starting with greens and unfortunately roughs are last on the list and often don't get treated.  That changed a little this week when a herbicide was applied to quite widespread areas of the courses with two goals in mind.  Firstly to eradicate some weeds but also to "burn" off some of the grass to help players find their golf ball and also to reduce mowing requirements which are stretched at the moment.  So for the next couple of weeks there will be a "burned" appearance in some rough areas and also the greens surrounds.

Herbicide burn showing on 14R roughs
The writer also made comment about the amount of couchgrass in the West greens which is under constant surveillance I can assure you.  There is however only one product registered to remove couchgrass from bentgrass safely and its effect is negligible.  This encroachment is not a new problem as can be seen from the Board minutes from 1980 when the then Superintendent Les Neuhaus was recommending using the same product we try and use today! 
13R green with sprinklers in place!!
13R green continues to develop and this coming Friday will be 5 weeks since planting and I couldn't be happier with the greens progress.  Some things never cease to amaze you though and last Sunday I turned the sprinklers on the green remotely from the shed when I first arrived and as I have been doing went for a drive out to check the green to discover 2 of the small sprinklers on the green had been stolen overnight and the hose was causing a minor washout on the green!! 

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Quite a busy week on the courses with the dry and the heat continuing.  The River greens have bounced back from their renovation in the fastest time I have seen and are looking and putting very well.  The West greens are entering the "stress" time with heat and humidity on the rise.  Once again this week the constant north wind has made irrigation very difficult across the courses but they are both holding up extremely well under the circumstances.

13 River green continues to develop and is covering in nicely.  The green was mown 4 times this week and received the first of many upcoming sandings to start grooming the surface down to playing level.  The green has obviously had a large amount of water applied during establishment and whilst establishment has been good the water itself can present its own range of problems with the high salt content restricting the new turf.  The expected rainfall on the week end should see a great improvement in the health of turf and even faster growth.

First sanding on 13R green.

Nearly 5 tonne of fertiliser was put out on the West fairways this week so hopefully the predicted rain will arrive.  If not we will just have to keep the irrigation going at the level it has been at over the past several weeks to water the fertiliser in.  Actually the motorised buggies do a pretty good job of breaking it up and moving it into the thatch / soil layer anyway however we lose some of the long term capabilities of the fertiliser when this happens..  The fertilising is the reason there are so many wheel marks visible at the moment on West course fairways this week.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

I had the opportunity to go down to Sydney to see the start of the Australian Open at The Australian GC and came away very impressed with the turf quality and attention to detail being shown in the course preparation including staff brushing sand away between groups so there was no sand outside the bunkers visible on TV.  An army of volunteers have joined the usual crew to prepare the course for the event and apart from having a good look at the course it was great to see Scott Gardiner playing live.  Although I think I need to stay away from him as he bogeyed the first two holes I watched on the Friday but he is still well placed going in to Saturday.
Scott playing from 18 bunker Friday
Using a broom to brush sand away from the surface between groups

The week didn't start that well though with an irrigation mainline blowing out in the middle of the LHS bunker on 13W green.  The green and associated mounding was obviously built after the mainline was installed and the repair hole finished up being 8 feet deep and a 2.7 metre section of pipe needed to be replaced.  Fortunately a couple of the sub contractors were able to come in and assist as the entire irrigation system needed to be shut down and with Bent greens any more than 24 hours without water in this climate can be life threatening for the turf.  This is one of the bunkers proposed to be filled in the Course Improvement Plan works that are scheduled for early next year so it will be filled as soon as the ground is dry enough to work on.

The hole at 13W

The cover is off 13R green (which wasn't all that easy in the howling wind!) and the strike and growth for the first two weeks is outstanding.  Runners are just starting to move and full cover should be achieved ahead of time.

13R cover coming off
Excellent root establishment at 13R
13R 2 weeks after planting

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Well the decoy Hawk at 5W green has certainly worked.  The Corella's don't even go on the ground which they had been doing and feeding on the fairways before they would attack the green so it's been a great success.

Another great success this week was the River greens renovations.  The dry weather made the job a lot easier than the last couple of years when there have been a few showers about.    The greens were actually mown on Thursday afternoon which I have never done before so interference to play will be minimal.  They will be sanded again early next week for the final level finish to be attained.

13R green is establishing well and the cover will be removed on this coming Monday.  The task is then to achieve a full cover of grass and get the mowing height down as quickly as possible.  The water can now be backed off a little as the roots are starting to establish.

All River fairways were fertilised on Tuesday in the hope that we were going to get some rain that was forecast for that night.  Quite unusually we missed the rain which was unfortunate but the irrigation has been a reasonable substitute.  The fairways are already greening and were a bit longer over the week end due to not being mown following the fertiliser application.  The buggy traffic the next morning caused some burn on the leaf of the grass which explains the visible wheel marks on some fairways.

Wheel marks from fertiliser burn 1R fairway.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Construction of 13 River green has been completed and the green was planted on Friday morning.  The task now is to keep the water up during the establishment phase which is quite a task in the wind especially on such an exposed area such as 13R.  If all goes well in the establishment the green should be back in play in 12 weeks.  The green was stolonised which is using vegetative (or pieces of grass) material rather than solid turf.  The big advantage is that a layer of thatch is not introduced to the surface from day 1.

Close up of planted stolons.

Planted green and stolons tracked in with machine wheels.

The renovation of the River greens will commence as planned on Sunday afternoon so hopefully the little bit of forecast rain will hold off until we have completed them.

The past week has seen some bird damage to some of the West greens in particular 5 and 7.  We have had this damage before from the Corella's but normally just removing the flag stick just on dusk for some reason keeps them away.  They seem to enjoy pecking at the flag then sliding down and then attacking the hole and the rest of the green.  This year though they have been active despite the flag stick being removed.  On Friday night I placed a decoy Hawk on 5W green and an Owl on 7W green and there was no damage.  In fact their numbers were far less so I hope the ploy continues to work.
Damaged areas on 5W with sand fill.   

The "Hawk" on 5W who won the first battle!!

Friday, November 7, 2014

A very busy week on the courses and a great effort by the groundstaff in getting the 360 tonne of sand that was delivered all spread out in the bunkers.  The skillof our back hoe contractor Peter McConnell continues to astound with virtually no sign of his large machine having been on the courses.  It is a difficult job working in amongst the play and we thank the players for your co-operation.  I think the Melbourne Cup day field appreciated the 30 odd bunkers that were out of play for the day!!

All is in readiness for the works at 13 River green commencing on Monday.  The temporary green is still a bit immature due to the short grow in time and the front of the temporary is 278 metres from the mens back tee.   It is situated in a bit of a funnel and judging by the number of players who have landed on it during preparation it won't be too hard to get on!  The first loads of sand have started arriving and has been stockpiled at the rear of 1 River green.  The sand for the top 100mm of the green will arrive on Monday and this sand has had a range of organic amendments added to make the growing profile "old" so that the green should match the others quite quickly as well as aiding in the establishment of the turf.

First load of sand for 13R green
The courses received 7.6mm of the most welcome rain I can recall in the storm on Thursday night and that has at least settled the dust somewhat.  I had been pumping out a large amount of water this week and was starting to drop behind our supply so the rain was just what the meteorologist ordered!!

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Well the wind continues and accurate irrigation remains nigh on impossible.  The greens aren't too bad as we can hand water them although this is a drain on staff resources.  The very sandy free draining soil profile on the River greens is noticeable now with dry patches appearing on them which requires back up hand water.  
Early morning players would have noticed a lot of fairway watering going on as we seem to get a lull in the wind from 5 to 7 am most mornings.  We only have a single row of "Toro 690 series" sprinklers and whilst they are virtual water cannons they can't operate efficiently in the wind.  These sprinklers have a throw of 30 metres and deliver 280 litres per minute which is an incredible amount of water for  a sprinkler.  They are a gear drive type sprinkler and are 2 speed meaning that they operate at a slower speed in the non overlap area which is to the side of the fairways and a faster speed in the overlap areas in the middle of the fairways.

690 fairway sprinkler in full flight 13 River
As mentioned in Captain Dave's newsletter last week the Board approved more funds for bunker sand and the delivery of such has commenced.  I was anticipating getting the sand out this coming week prior to a very busy November but unfortunately one staff member has a recent long term sickness and anothers wife is about to give birth a few weeks early which coupled with 2 staff on annual leave means I am very short staffed.  I have booked the back hoe which places the sand for us and he is only available this week so some of the sand will be stockpiled in bunkers and spread when we can get to them and some bunkers will therefore be out of play until this time. The last lot of sand was only placed in greenside bunkers but this time there will be some added to fairway bunkers as well particularly on 6 River as an example.

As mentioned above November is going to be a busy time on the courses with the re-construction of 13 River green commencing next Monday November 10th and the River greens renovations starting the following Monday.

Friday, October 24, 2014

A couple of major irrigation problems this week were certainly quite unwelcome.  At the moment and for the past several weeks we have been pumping 24/7 from the Banora Treatment Works which is the source of our irrigation water but had two hiccups this week that saw us lose nearly 24 hours of water transfer time due to two separate problems with our pumps at the plant.  We currently pump down about 1.3 megalitres of water each day and have been putting the same amount on the courses each night.  Unfortunately the loss of pumping time meant that for two nights only greens and tees were irrigated due to the reduced volume.  The fairways are really struggling at the moment which is one of the problems with such a sandy free draining site coupled with the constant motorised buggy traffic as well as the system design as mentioned last week.  The upside of the sandy profile is the recovery from rain events which would be most welcome at the moment.  It was amazing to think I got excited with the 5mm that fell this week!

The other issue was with a mainline on 14W fairway and the green supply at 13W both of which required a substantial excavation.  The size of the Fig tree root heading in to 13W green from the right was absolutely huge.  This made me ponder just what we will encounter with 13R green in a couple of weeks when the top is removed given the size of the Norfolk Pines at the rear of the green  Preparations are going quite well for the green although the temporary will probably struggle with the short preparation time.  A "growth blanket" has been placed over the top of the temporary to assist speed up the growth by creating a virtual greenhouse effect which will lift the temperature of the surface and soil whilst still allowing light and moisture to get through to the plant.  The sand mix for the green was finalised this week with numerous amendments to be added to make the growing profile "old" so as to better match it to the existing greens.

Had a laugh at this one!!

Friday, October 17, 2014

A lot of fertiliser going out this week in an effort to "wake" the grass up and get it moving.  Soil temperatures are still down so the effect is mainly cosmetic with an almost manufactured green coloring across the courses.  I have been fighting an issue with my irrigation pumps for some time now with overnight performance not where it should be which seriously effect the delivery of the irrigation water.  Couple that with the recent dry spell and it is obvious to see the results on some of the fairways with very dry conditions evident.  We also only have a single row of sprinklers up the middle of the fairways and whilst they have an impressive 30 metre throw on them they are seriously effected by wind which is almost a constant at Cool Tweed.

The temporary at 13 River green is well under way and the foreign Couchgrass was sprayed out today in preparation for the construction which is due to commence on Monday November 10.  The stolons were to be harvested from the existing green but the amount of foreign grass in the surface has meant that they have been ordered from a turf farm for delivery on Tuesday November 11.  So no doubt the drought will be breaking on that week end!!

And there are many warnings around the entire country about the threat of a major snake season this summer but spare a thought for this unsuspecting golfer at Sanctuary Lakes in Melbourne earlier this week when he returned to his bag to find a Tiger snake slithering in to it!!

Very impressed to see that he was carrying 2 sandbuckets which both look well used and empty which would be nice if all players followed that lead!

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Thursday was the day the "circus came to town" in the form of the Toll Charity Golf Classic.  Both courses were booked for the Friday event and not much expense was spared with a wide array of promotional paraphernalia ranging from serviettes to semi trailers and a guest appearance by Ricky Ponting.  A hectic couple of days bumping in and out but the courses were left spotlessly clean and anyone not on site on either Thursday or Friday would be blissfully unaware that anything had taken place.  A selection of photos below from the day.

6 West tee.  The $250K truck was the prize for a hole in one.
In front of the Half Way Bar
9 West tee
Another Prime Mover in the trees at 6 River

Perhaps somewhat fortunately for the sponsors 4 metres was the closest anyone came to a hole in one on 6W!!

Back on the golf course and a temporary green has been prepared in front of 13 River green in readiness for the re-surfacing of the green.  The main reason for the works is to prevent balls from running off the green at the rear right side and to also establish a hole location in the rear right of the green.  Initially just the back half of the green was to be done but given the opportunity to remove some of the foreign couch contamination at the front of the green the decision was made to do the entire green.  It is also very difficult to marry a new section of green with an existing surface and the green is now 16 years old.  Yes that's right the back nine River greens were re-constructed and converted from Bentgrass to 328 Couchgrass in 1998!!

Temp green 13R
Construction work will commence on November 10 and with good growing weather the green will be out of play for 12 - 14 weeks.  Stolons will be harvested from the green and replanted on the new green to maintain uniformity and a root barrier will be installed to prevent root encroachment from the Norfolk Pines at the rear of the green.  The single bunker will remain.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Not very much to report this week with the past two days involved in a massive clean up of leaf and tree debris after the strong north winds on Wednesday afternoon followed by the massive southerly change that was one of the most severe I have witnessed - Melbourne included.  A great effort by your groundstaff to get the courses back in order, particularly for the Vets open day on Thursday.  I have mentioned as the source of a lot of my weather information and they predicted the change to come through at 4.30pm which only just missed the actual time of 4.45pm.

A pleasing result with the aeration of the green surrounds on the West course and the firming up of these areas.  7 West tee has also been returfed for the coming summer.  Investigations continue in to a suitable artificial teeing surface for this heavily shaded small tee. 

Saturday, September 27, 2014

A wide range of weed control across the courses has been happening over the past several weeks.  The weather has a dramatic effect on just how much can be done, particularly the wind. A lot of the weeds we have are in the "difficult to control" category but we are making some headway in to them. We have also been trying a few alternative strategies to control Couch encroachment in to the West greens and will continue this over the summer months.  As has been mentioned before total eradication of the encroaching Couch is impossible so once again efforts are about limiting the level of encroachment.  Players will regularly see some dye used with the mixture which allows the operators to see where they have been as evidenced below on 17W green.

17W green dye
The West greens continue their impressive recovery from the recent renovation and are looking and putting very well.  One of the problems associated with the greens renovation
especially with the weather warming up is the extra irrigation that is required which also puts water out on to the surrounds making them softer than they should be.  To help alleviate this and also to improve turf quality, these areas will be hollow tined this coming week and some fertiliser added.  Unfortunately fowl manure will be the best option so there will be a bit of a smell over this coming week on the west course!!

Friday, September 19, 2014

A very pleasant week of weather and the recovery of the West greens following their renovation has been outstanding.  The greens do need probably 2 more "sandings" to finish leveling the surface up but the warm weather may affect the timing of this.  The sand can literally "cook" the greens if you don't get the application just right so caution will be needed in the coming week or so.  The surrounds of the West greens received an application of herbicide this week which has resulted in a "burn" of the leaf which will grow out shortly.  The photo below does show just how good the greens look only 2 weeks after renovation.

        Burn around 4W green with the green

Signs have been placed on the 1st tees of both courses alerting players to the recent change on placing bunker rakes back in bunkers as follows;


Always leave rake in the flat of the bunker with the handle parallel to the line of flight of the hole being played.

Thank you for your cooperation. 

 So this is not how to place the rake;

Rakes left on slope of bunker at 4 West

And this is where the rake should go....but please use it!!

Rake correctly placed but not used by the player.  They even left the ball behind for us!!

And a bit of history for recent members and for those who forget what things looked like:
The old buggy shed prior to 2007!!

Friday, September 12, 2014

A very big week of work on the courses this past week and the weather on the warm up.  The West greens have recovered very well from the renovation and have been mown several times this week.  It is always a difficult time as the best time to mow them is when they are dry but unfortunately that's when the players are out.  Mowing in the early morning dew makes the sand stick to the rollers on the mowers and the build up of sand then gets between the reel and bedknife affecting the quality of cut and this is the reason for the streaky lines on the greens.  The height is gradually being returned to normal so if all goes to plan they should be fine by next week end.

The Coots enjoying the lush growth on 7 West green

Another 100 cubic metres of sand was added to the River course bunkers this week with the rear bunker on 2 River and the right side bunker on 15 River having some repair work carried out.  A lot of stone had appeared in these bunkers so the existing sand was excavated and a liner installed prior to the new sand being added.  The liner will prevent any more stone coming up from the floor of the bunker but will still allow drainage.

8 River bunker before sand

8 River bunker after sand
2 River bunker lining and re-sanding
Some more dead and dangerous tree removal continued this week and unfortunately one of the Norfolk Pines at the rear of 13 River green had to be removed.  There was a major cavity in the tree that actually housed two bee hives and was beyond repair.  The photo below shows a white tee marker that had been thrown in to the cavity some 8 metres off the ground.  In addition to the beehive that was visible from the ground there was a native bee hive located in the upper cavity.

Norfolk Pine rear 13 River cavity

The cavity as seen from the ground

Saturday, September 6, 2014

The West greens renovation has been completed after a very frustrating week.  The week delay meant that the contractor who assists in the aeration was unavailable which stretched my staffing numbers and the ability to get the job finished.  A shower of rain on Tuesday that didn't even register in the rain gauge wet the sand sufficiently to make rubbing it in almost impossible and then one of the aeration machines pulled some more material out which meant that more sand needed to be added to some greens which made the sanding task quite difficult to judge.  But all in all a good result has been achieved and the greens should bounce back full of vigour and ready for the summer ahead.

This week saw the removal of some more dead and dangerous trees from the courses.  A large Melaleuca on the left side of 9 West that was on the "to do" list came down and is a timely reminder why such trees are removed.

Melaleuca down LHS 9W
7R bunker before sand spread
The week also saw some 100 cubic metres of sand added to selected River bunkers which is the first time for a few years we have been able to do this.  The sand being used now is a 60 / 40 mix of specified bunker sand and brickies loam.  The brickies loam gives the sand the orange colour and also helps the sand from drying out too quickly and becoming fluffy.  It was interesting to read the article in the September issue of Australian Golf Digest about bunkers.  The recent Turf Conference on the Gold Coast had a bunker forum where architects and Superintendents described some of the methodologies being used around Australia to come up with a bunker design and sand that will please golfers.  Coolangatta Tweed got a mention for the Course Improvement Plan that will potentially see 30 bunkers removed from the two courses.  As quoted in the article bunkers typically take up about 2% of a golf course property but anywhere between 10 and 25% of allocated groundstaff hours.  They are hazards aren't they??

7R bunker after sand

Friday, August 29, 2014

Well that might be the last time I use the "D" word on here!  D for drought that is as mentioned a couple of weeks ago has seen a turnaround  to the tune of 250+mm since.  The courses lapped up the first 200 or so but have stayed quite wet with the follow up.  Some of the totals further south around Coffs Harbour were twice ours so not really complaining and we did really need it.  The wind this week wasn't really all that welcome though with consistent gusts of 50kmh bringing down a lot of debris.  A great effort by my staff in cleaning up today has the courses looking very tidy for the first round of the Club Championships tomorrow.  Good luck to all those playing.

The postponed renovations will take place on Monday with a good forecast at this stage.  The greens will be hollow tine aerated with 5/8 inch size tines.  A balanced NPK slow release fertiliser will be applied along with some Gypsum and then a fairly heavy sanding with the aim being to refill all the holes with a fresh growing medium.

A number of dead trees were removed this past week with more to come and the stumps will be removed on Monday next week.  Over the next few weeks there will be some constant tree pruning works carried out removing low, dead, dangerous and untidy limbs.

Next week will also see the start of some bunker sand replenishment.  Budget will not allow us to get to every single bunker that needs sand but the worst will be treated.  The sand will be the same that has been used over the past couple of years which is a 60/40 mix meaning it is comprised of 60% of sand that conforms to the Golf Australia recommendations for bunker sand and 40% "brickies loam" which adds quite a bit of body to the material to help prevent ball plugging.  We can't afford to go to high with the % of loam so as not to start blocking the drains.

And I know I harp on about bunkers not being raked and pitch marks not being repaired but this was the RHS bunker on 2 West green after the heavy rain earlier this week.  The rakes wouldn't make much of an imprint on such heavily compacted sand but that 10 divots that have been made and each one of those shots left a pitch mark on the very soft green which went un-repaired.

10 more pitchmarks!!

Saturday, August 23, 2014

It never rains it pours goes the old saying and the virtual drought we have been having has now well and truly broken with flooding rains forecast across the week end and in to next week.  Unfortunately the first two rounds of the Club Championships were due to be played and have been abandoned for this week end and will now be played as a 54 hole event over the next three Saturdays.  The call was made on this after the forecast was assessed and options discussed at a special meeting of the Match Committee on Thursday afternoon in anticipation of the inclement weather.  After the fears of large rainfall figures were realised with torrential rain falling on Friday and the forecast of similar conditions prevailing on Saturday,  the decision that had been discussed at the meeting was implemented.

Perhaps the main reason for the call to made is that the West greens are in a condition that they can not take very much rainfall before water pooling commences rendering them virtually unplayable as relief from casual water can't always be found.  The reason for the water pooling is that the greens are such a tight surface at the moment which is one of the reasons for renovation where the soil pores are opened up and water can move through the profile more easily.

Unfortunately the greens renovation was due to take place next Monday and as predominantly dry conditions are required to allow the soil amendments and fertiliser to be applied, not to mention the extraction of the soil cores as part of the coring process which is very difficult on wet greens.  At this stage the renovations will be put back a week to Monday September 1st with that days Members competition being moved to the River course to allow for the works to proceed.

 55mm had fallen on the courses to 5.00am on Saturday morning and whilst motorised buggies are off both courses which drastically cuts player numbers, the good news is that it has been very good soaking rain which is what the courses desperately needed.  Saturday mornings total takes us up to just shy of 160mm for the week with more to come.  Interesting that one forecast I saw predicts showers on Friday, Saturday and Sunday but "rain" on Monday so batten down the hatches perhaps!

Friday, August 15, 2014

A fairly quiet week on the courses with cool breezes which always seem to be around for the Brisbane "Ekka" week.  A few showers have softened some areas of the courses and some significant rain is forecast for the weekend.  Being so dry for so long it is going to take some slow steady rain to wet the soil profile right through so the fingers are crossed.  For the first couple of rain events as we head towards summer players can expect some significant pooling of water until the profile is wet through.

I attended a seminar during the week where I was lucky enough to hear from two of the best speakers on turf management I have ever experienced.  One of the slides put up had the following text;

The constantly rising standard of excellence in the maintenance of golf turf continually confronts the greenkeeper with new problems.  The artificial condition of growth to which turf has been subjected on golf courses undoubtedly increases the damage caused by turf diseases.  At the same time, the improvements in turf have tended to make the modern golfer far more critical and have increased the demand for turf of quality kept free at all times from any damage caused by disease or other agencies.

The room was full of Superintendents and you could hear a collective groan about just how accurate the quote was with respect to presenting a golf course that meets the demands of the players.  The presenter then informed us that the quote was from 1932!!  Things really haven't changed that much after all!!  Strategies for disease and weed prevention were high on the presenters agenda and a couple of tweaks to the management of the courses will take place as a result.

Last weeks photos of the bee hive removal are complimented by a good news story from Europe below;
European bee population in better health than we thought
Bayer CropScience reports that according to recent data of 400,000 bee colonies in 21 European countries, overwintering losses of honey bee colonies are at their lowest level in years. This is a key indicator of overall bee health. Additional data published by a nonprofit honey bee research group shows that the mortality rate of bees in the winter of 2013-14 was 9 percent. The previous winter season in the U.K. and Belgium had losses between 30 and 34 percent. 

Friday, August 8, 2014

Well the dry continues with rainfall year to date totaling just 583mm compared to 1917mm last year and 1923mm in 2012 for the same time.  The average rainfall YTD July 31 is 1208mm and this year is the driest since 1986 when just 495mm fell and way back in 1902 when only 414mm fell.

Whilst the dry weather is good for golf the turf really starts to struggle with the only water being the recycled irrigation water.  This water is a godsend from availability and price point of view but the suitability for irrigation of fine turf is questionable, particularly after such a prolonged dry spell on the West greens.  Some soil samples were taken this week and the analysis will be used to determine what soil amendments will be added to the greens profile at the upcoming renovation.

And the weather must be turning with a number of families of ducks on the courses especially this one with 15 ducklings as photographed by a Blog following member last Wednesday.  And whilst they may be cute I unfortunately only think of the mess they will make on the greens, particularly after the renovation when the turf is quite lush and also of the number of weed seeds that are disseminated in their droppings.

One big family
Putting hazard and future weeds

For quite some time now there has been an active beehive in one of the Norfolk Island Pines next to 14R ladies tee and whilst given the plight of the bee community in the world I was very happy to have the hive on course, the prospect of someone allergic to bees being stung was the main factor in organising the removal.  Particularly with the swarming season upon us and the proximity to a tee.  Although not a very large hive, once removed it exposed a large cavity in the tree and is quite dangerous and the tree will unfortunately need to be removed.

Before removal

The start of removal

During removal

Friday, August 1, 2014

An amazing burst of weather this week with my thermometer at the shed reading 26ยบ today which is in stark contrast to the equally amazing burst of weather in Victoria at the moment with snow falling in the coastal town of Lorne!!  Quite incredible that we had the haze from the local bushfires hanging over the course this morning and a two hour plane ride away is so frigid. The fertiliser that has been put down over the past few weeks is seeing a tinge of colour return across the courses but nowhere near enough to cause any grass growth.  The West greens were given a very light application of fertiliser last week and are growing incredibly well and look fantastic although some pace has gone from them with the lush growth.

Sunrise through the smoke haze Friday August 1.

 A trial is underway on the back 9 of the West course where some reflective tape has been stuck just under the flag which from all reports makes it easier for rangefinders to zero in on the flagstick.  It was hard to get a good photo with the reflection as seen in the photo below so it just may help.

Reflective tape on the flagstick.

And with the amount of wind we have it is a regular occurrence for the flagsticks to blow out of the putting cup completely or move around and finish up on a lean.  A new cup is being trialed on 10 West green that "locks" the flagstick in.  Unfortunately it is still the same size so won't help your putting!!

New putting cup.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Some delightful weather to finish off the week and dare I say it but some rain would be most welcome.  It seems strange to be irrigating fairways at this time of year but I guess it's a nice problem to have considering the weather down south.

The West greens responded very well to this weeks sanding and it is planned to get another sanding in before the Club Championships.  The greens on both courses were fertilised and some Sulphate of Iron was applied which gives them the dark coloured appearance that is currently evident.  15 River green is enjoying the full sunlight following the tree removal and the adjacent 16 River mens tee has a full grass cover for the first time ever in winter.  That used to be one of the tees that was oversown to provide a grass cover for winter so that is very pleasing.

Over the years I have contemplated oversowing the River greens for the winter months but have decided against it on a number of counts such as cost and disruption to play amongst others.  The grass that would have been used on the greens was the same that has been planted at the rear of 15 River green.  The flock of ducks that have taken residence demonstrates that it is obviously a tasty dish which would mean they would be over all the greens if they were oversown!!

13 - 18 West as well as 16 and 18 River fairways were fertilised this weekOnce again a high content of Iron was present and should help give them some colour.  One of the challenges with this type of spraying operation on fairways is to get the colour even so watch this space as we refine the operation. 

The member information night last night shows just how passionate Members are about their courses when there was some change suggested by course architect Richard Chamberlain.  The plan is now on display in the Members Lounge and comment is expected and welcome.  As General Manager Brett said last night it is imperative to have a plan going forward and that is exactly what we now have for the courses.

The Open Championship was played in some amazing weather although one of my friends in the UK wrote an article talking about the "sweltering conditions".  I just got back from Dubai and it was still 39 degrees at 11pm which is what I call sweltering.  And speaking of the desert, Sanctuary Cove Superintendent Robin Doodson is making the move to Doha GC in Qatar which is host to the Qatar Masters on the European Tour.  Cool Tweed member Paul McLean has accepted the position as Superintendent at The Cove.  And just a couple of snaps from The Open; 

Rory's happy "selfie"

No comment!!
And a bit of trivia.  The British International Golf Greenkeepers Association (BIGGA) supply course support officials that were mentioned several times during the telecast of the Open last week whose task is to walk with each group and rake bunkers and keep the course tidy.  Hoylake has 82 bunkers and they needed raking 335 times during the first round and a total of 945 times for the week.