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.