Monday, March 31, 2014

Well the old saying states that a week can be a long time and it certainly was last week with some very welcome rainfall arriving as shown in the radar image below.  Nearly 150mm for the week and the courses lapped it up and coupled with the hot, humid weather they have really kicked in to growth mode with every available mower out on the courses in an effort to keep up.

A beautiful sight!!
As mentioned previously the Bentgrass West greens are really struggling of late and the rain was a welcome relief as it gave me a chance to "needle tine" the greens which allows for some much needed air exchange.  The process is too risky unless you are guaranteed rain as the greens dry very quickly.  There is virtually no surface disruption but the benefits are huge for the turf.  The videos below show the actual tining taking place and the roller restoring the surface.  The tines penetrate about 100mm.  The humidity as a result of the rain isn't the best thing for the greens but the rain and needle tine were.

With the prospect of rain I was able to fertilise the River course fairways last week to take advantage of Mother Nature for a change.  Four tonne of slow release fertiliser was applied at an application rate of 230 kg per hectare.  This should get the fairways ready for the winter by taking advantage of the late summer conditions we are experiencing.  The fairways are normally fertilised in the late afternoon / early evening to avoid too many carts driving over them which results in a temporary and unsightly burn which happened on 6 River fairway as can be seen in the photo as that fairway was done in the morning in front of play.

6 River fairway

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Not very much to report on for this week other than the dry continues.  There were some good falls of rain a little further south and in the hinterland but what we received barely wet the pavement.  Rain has been recorded on 11 days so far this month on the courses for the grand total of 18mm.  It could be worse I guess with Perth recording their driest summer on record and they officially broke the long standing record of 110 days without rain with 0.2mm of rain last week. Many Perth courses haven't recorded any rain since November 30 last year!!

I nearly saw something today that made me think back and that was that in 35+ years of working on golf courses I had never seen a hole in one actually happen.  That nearly changed as I drove past 15 West green this morning and watched Doug Glazebrook's ball literally lip out of the hole and come to rest 6 inches away behind the cup.  Doug wouldn't have seen it from the tee as he was bending over to pick up his tee and when he reached the green I told him how close it was to a hole in one.  He seemed more concerned with the fact that it would be the 3rd birdie in a row and he finished with 43 points to win the comp!!  Then later in the day Wayne Rowland's ball landed just short of the hole on 17 West and rolled ever so close to the hole on it's way past.

And another thing that was a first for me happened last Saturday when one of the social players following the men's competition on the West course must have been wearing football boots as the photo below shows.  At least I hope that's what they were and not the latest soft spike golf shoe, a couple of styles are so severe they have been banned at some courses due to the damage they cause.

Stop marks

Friday, March 14, 2014

The comments that are being received about the condition of the courses are very satisfying and a lot of the credit goes to my staff who have done a great job again over the summer.  The irrigation system is operating at its full potential and considering the age of some of the piping and sprinklers it does an incredible job although barely a day goes by without some repair work being required.  There are some dry areas on some of the fairways but these are generally related to the condition of the soil profile in the area.

The West greens are really under pressure now although the shorter daylight hours of recent times do help them.  The lack of rain as highlighted in last weeks post has not helped the situation with the greens needing to survive virtually solely on the treated irrigation water.  Whilst this water is a godsend it is not without its problems with high salt levels that are usually diluted or flushed away from the root zone by the normally regular summer rains.  That hasn't been the case this year and the greens are showing the effects with a very poor root structure and depth.  That is fairly usual for this time of year as Bentgrass roots start dying when the soil temperature reaches 25 degrees.  On 17 West green today the surface temperature was 33 degrees and the soil temperature 31.  The ambient temperature will stay at around 22 degrees over night and the irrigation water that will be applied is sitting at about 27 degrees meaning that there will be no significant cooling of the surface or root zone. This has been the case since early December so it is easy to see why the greens are stressed.  At the moment most of the roots are sitting in the thatch layer in the top inch or so of the surface and that is why the greens are so soft at the moment as the roots can only draw water close to the surface.  Bring on some cooler autumn weather and dare I say it some rain.

The dry summer unfortunately claimed a local victim by forcing Club Banora to close 9 holes.  It is never good when you hear of any sporting venue having such luck with staff losing their jobs and players there favourite pastime.  Interesting figures out of the USA this week that one golf course is closing every two weeks with most being public facilities.  The other interesting figure is that there are the same number of private clubs now as there was in 1929.

And on a lighter note under the heading "only in America";
A game called foot golf, which combines soccer (or football, as it's known outside of the U.S.) and golf, is growing to 39 courses in the U.S. this spring. Foot golf courses are adjacent to traditional, existing golf courses so that 18, 21-inch-wide holes can be played in about the same time as a traditional nine-hole round of golf.
What will they think of next??

Friday, March 7, 2014

Well it has certainly been a dry summer but when I discovered that it was actually the driest summer season on record for the Tweed Heads site I was amazed.  There was only a couple of falls above 10mm but rain was recorded on 29 of the 90 days which is why I was so surprised.  It was however a nice change from the last two years when we received 1005mm and 891 mm respectively but was just a little bit too much of one extreme to the other.  The dry conditions don't allow the grass to grow in the rough though, particularly the broadleaf Carpetgrass that normally "swallows" the ball so there have been fewer lost balls which means happier players!!.

The driest summers at Tweed Heads in millimetres

Year 2013/14                                                
Dec 13           28.6   
Jan 14            65.0
Feb 14           45.8
Total           139.4

Year 1938/39             
Dec 38             8.3
Jan 39            75.2
Feb 39           57.4
Total            140.9

Year 1918/19         
Dec 18           35.1
Jan 19            19.8
Feb 19            99.6
TOTAL         154.5

Year 1901/02         
Dec 01           13.9
Jan 02            82.7
Feb 02            66.6
TOTAL         163.2

And what is it about morons when they get in a golf cart?

6 River bunker
It must have been a hot week with a Goanna sighted out and about on 6 river earlier this week.  A pity he couldn't have chased our friends in the buggy away!
Goanna on 6 River