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.