Friday, July 31, 2015

A couple of staff on leave this week left numbers very low on the courses but with low growth pressure we got through.  The glorious fine weather has certainly bought the players out with Friday being one of the busiest days I have seen on the courses.  A full Medal day tomorrow followed by the Twin Towns Open and then the Vets week of golf will cap off an incredibly busy period of golfing.

The West course greens renovations have been moved back a week and will now take place on Monday and Tuesday September 7 and 8.  The Ladies September Medal moves back to the 1st.  The West greens are rolling beautifully at the moment but will certainly appreciate the renovation and a breath of fresh air and some old fashioned fertiliser as part of the renovation.  Soil tests will be taken next week to determine just what needs to be added to the greens during the process.

The photo below is of the official group of volunteers at this years Open Championship.  The group assist with set up and are then assigned to a group of players as "course quality officials" who rake bunkers and clean up inside the ropes as they go.  They raked 209 bunkers on Thursday and then did 163 bunkers in total during round two, 70 during round three and 80 in the final round giving an overall total of 523 bunkers needing attention for the week.  It is a great experience and one that you apply for a long time in advance.

The Open volunteers

And an amazing story from Victoria of a 100 year old lady still playing the game at Torquay GC  and walking!!

Saturday, July 25, 2015

The old saying of "it never rains but pours" can hardly ring truer at the moment.  After finally drying out earlier this week the courses have received 110mm with a totally unexpected 19mm falling on Friday night.  I got the photo below last Monday and thought that the rain gauge that the Kookaburra is sitting on was pretty much only good for birds to perch on but how wrong was that later in the week?

Kookaburra sits on the empty rain gauge!

Motorised buggies have been off for the week pretty much and it is a call that I am entrusted to make and one that causes much angst as the effect on players golfing enjoyment and the club's finances are seriously affected.  I generally have a look at the courses the night before while there is still some daylight then reassess at about 4.45 am the next morning.  The West course is generally a fairly easy decision with holes 2, 12, 13, 14 and 16 the first ones to be looked at.  On the River course holes 1 and 9 are always a problem but I then look at the rest of the fairways and if a majority are going to sustain damage from motorised buggy traffic then the decision is based on that.  The time of year is also a factor as at the moment the potential for the courses to dry out quickly is minimal as is the potential for recovery from damage which again at this time of year is minimal.  The days forecast is also considered with respect to further rainfall.  The status of motorised buggies is updated by 5.30 am on the website under the "course conditions" tag at the top of the page.  Please be assured that it is not a decision that is taken lightly and has caused me many a sleepless night.

The deep aerator was out during the week trying to move some of the puddles and surface water but with little success particularly with more rain coming down.  The couple of solid tine aerations that the greens received have helped them dry out and the putting surface is very good considering the weather.  13R green has not been mown for two weeks and is still struggling with the shade and 17W is still powering along and the Tifeagle impresses me more and more by the day.  The turf on the green is only five and a half months old but is withstanding the play very well given the time of year.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Not very much to report on the courses this week although it's certainly nice to see the courses drying out.  The River greens were mini solid tine aerated on Monday to allow for some much needed air exchange.  The greens will also be "verti drain" aerated next week which is a deeper solid tine which will penetrate 20cm or around 8 inches.

13R green continues to struggle in the shade and the mowers have now been taken off the green for the foreseeable future but with the low growth there shouldn't be too much interference to play.

Winter grass control on the West greens commenced this week and that is the reason behind the slight discoloration in them although the putting surface is great at the moment with plenty of pace and nice firmness.

The Open Championship starts next week at the home of golf St Andrews.  Having recently visited there I am looking forward to seeing how the course plays now that I have some local knowledge.  It will definitely be a stark contrast to Chambers Bay and the recent US Open as Scotland is enduring its wettest June on record and the Old Course is very green.  The photo below shows some recent local flooding but the site is so sandy that most of the water would be gone very quickly.

Water everywhere at St Andrews

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Apologies for the 2 week absence but a combination of little to report and my attendance at the Australian Turf Conference last week kept me away from the typewriter!  

Well I don't think anyone could imagine the fallout that came with the US Open @ Chambers Bay as mentioned in my last post with the golfing world seemingly divided on the condition of the course.  Four weeks out the course was almost verdant green but an unusually warm and dry period obviously really baked the layout.  The USGA had adopted a policy that they wanted firm and fast which is what they got and they had the experience of the US Amateur in 2010 in their mind where conditions did get away from them.  There were a couple of Australians on the support crew and their comments were that it looked a lot better on the ground than on TV.  Having said all that the best player in the world at the moment won which is what they are after.

Back home and the rain is finally taking a break.  Rain was recorded on 17 days in June which must be some sort of record as it is normally a reliably dry month.  I don't think I have seen the course as soggy as it was this week and motorised buggies had to be kept off to protect the turf which has no real growth / recovery potential at this time of year.  The conditions of humidity and cloud cover doesn't favour Couch greens so any of the stressed areas are even further stressed.  The rear of 13R green is really struggling with the shade which when you consider that the seven month old turf was growing in full sunlight and being mown at 10mm in a paddock in Caboolture and is now being mown at 5mm in heavy shade by a salt water river is not really surprising.  One only has to look at the condition of 15R green now that it has almost full sunlight following the removal of the trees at the rear. The positive news regarding Couch greens is the continued progress of the Tifeagle on 17W green in its predominantly sunny position.

All other areas on the courses are over wintering quite well thus far and that will hopefully continue.  Following the problems with the West greens over summer there has been an increase in the amount of Winter Grass in the greens and this will be addressed in the coming weeks to ensure the health of the greens heading in to next summer.  I took the opportunity this week to give the West greens another solid tine and the River greens will be done next week.  This operation does not overly interfere with the playing surface but virtually gives the greens a breath of fresh air.  All the River course tees and some of the West were verti-drain aerated this week which is the deep tining machine and again something that was desperately needed for the health of the tees.

Solid tining West greens

Verti drain aeration (deep) on tees

And just when I thought I had seen everything, one of the cows that are agisted on the other side of the entry road escaped yesterday and was heading towards Minjungbal Drive where all hell could have broken loose.  Then he turned around and headed up towards the clubhouse and then on to the course once the security fence finished.  Fortunately he only strayed over a couple of fairways so damage was minimal.  I would hate to see the damage that could occur on a green!!

Unwanted visitor RHS 1W.