Friday, December 30, 2016

Well opening day for the first of the new TifEagle greens on the back 9 West has arrived.  11,13 and 16 greens will all be open to play from Saturday December 31.  13 and 16 are just ahead of scheduled opening time and 11 is 2 weeks ahead and is by far the best developed green only 10 weeks since planting.  These greens are still growing vigorously given the amount of fertiliser applied to get them established so the surface will "fine down"as the growth level reduces and a much tighter surface will result.  

The greens have settled a little on the edges in places creating a little ridge so the collars were all heavily scarified to remove some thatch and allow for a smooth transition from green to collar.  A local rule allowing relief from the bare areas is in play.  14 and 15 greens will probably open next week with 10 not far behind which will all be well in advance of the proposed timeline.  All greens are being sanded on a regular basis to help smooth the surface out.  There is also a lot of wheel marking evident on the greens that will be removed once we start rolling the greens.

Brushing in some sand on 10W

Elsewhere the courses are drying out with strong northerly winds rendering accurate irrigation virtually impossible.  A lot of drain and irrigation trenches are showing up which is a sure sign of just how dry it is so the predicted rain next week will be a welcome relief.  Hopefully it will fall overnight so that the "silly season" of golf can continue. 

A very evident trench line at 16W

Friday, December 23, 2016

Not really a lot to report this week other than the new West course TifEagle greens are progressing very well and 13 and 16 are right on schedule to open in the first week of January as planned.  11 has progressed exceptionally well and will probably open at the same time with 14 and 15 not far behind.  11 is the stand out at this stage and the fact that it gets the most sun of all the back 9 greens is obviously a factor in its development.

Irrigation issues have continued this week with some pump problems cutting capacity once again but the courses are holding up exceptionally well.

I have said many times before the condition of the courses are a tribute to the work of my staff.  A couple of untimely and lengthy sick leave events and some planned annual leave has left us with an average of 13 on the courses during December which has been quite a stretch on the rest of the staff but they have done a great job as always.

I trust followers of the Blog will have a merry Christmas and a safe and Happy New Year.


Friday, December 16, 2016

The cover came off 12W green on Thursday which was the last to be uncovered in the West greens Tifeagle conversion for this year.  It had really moved along and will be catching up with the others very quickly.  This week was 10 weeks since 13W was planted and 9 weeks since 16W and 11W were done.  They received a heavy sanding today and aren't far off being bought back in to play.  There is just some thin areas on the edges and unfortunately they are in the major walk off areas.  These 3 greens and all the others are progressing very well and forming a very good surface.

Other than that it has been a week of getting ready for the busy holiday golfing season with as much preparation done as possible.  The growth regulator will be applied to the fairways next week which significantly reduces the need for mowing which is critical at this time of year.

The cover coming off 12W after 20 days.

Friday, December 9, 2016

cooli golf long movie

The video above was done for the Club by our excavator operator Scott King from some time lapse photography and also some drone footage and gives a good insight in to just what happens in the construction process that we go through on the greens.

The other West back 9 greens continue to develop and the cover was taken off 18W this week after 20 days and the coverage and growth was amazing.  The warmer overnight temperatures are keeping the soil temperature up which assists the establishment phase of the grass and this coupled with the higher humidity also accelerates the establishment.  On the front 9 on the West these weather conditions are exactly why the Bentgrass struggles throughout the warmer months.
Some very welcome rainfall this past week with nearly 40mm falling on the courses and getting the grass moving across the property.  The look of the radar as the storms approached was pretty scary and it might be a blessing that they somewhat dissipated as they crossed the coast.  Having said that the lightning we did receive took its toll on a few trees and a few of our irrigation controllers in the field.

Our Irish recruit Sean giving 18W its first mow @ 6mm

Friday, December 2, 2016

A week of growing in the West greens with some nice warm weather assisting.  Unfortunately we only scored 3mm of rain from the two storms on Wednesday and Thursday when I was really looking for 50mm plus.  The courses are both drying out and a couple of irrigation issues have meant less than adequate water has been applied to the courses.

The irrigation concerns started on Saturday when an 80mm T piece started leaking on 1R fairway and required immediate action.  Two of the crew responded and the repair was done and the water turned back on but an issue started with the filter which was only allowing 60% irrigation capacity.  A couple of quite stressful days followed particularly on  Tuesday when the water was down for 3½ hours with two four day old greens needing it most.  An electrical fault took one of the pumps out as well on Tuesday night which further reduced capacity.  But we made the end of the week and the main playing areas have survived reasonably well.

The River greens renovation was a great success with the greens being heavily de-thatched then core aerated and the cores rubbed back in to the surface.  The remaining material was then blown off the surface, fertiliser and amendments applied and then top dressed with an amended sand.  Sounds easy?  It's two full hard days for the crew which followed hot on the heels of the eight week West greens project so no wonder there are some tired looks on their faces.  I think they are looking forward to being able to sit on a mower again!!

An 80mm repair on Saturday.
Rubbing the cores back in on 1R green.
  I am continually on the West greens monitoring them and often bemoaning the fact that they are not growing in fast enough.  I got a couple of photos of the same spot on 14W this week taken on Monday afternoon then again on Thursday morning to show the great progress. 

14W Monday pm.

14W Thursday am.

Friday, November 25, 2016

The end of the back nine West greens Tifeagle conversion has now been reached with the planting of 12W and a nursery green area today.  Most of this week was spent on tidying up the construction areas while we waited for the stolons to arrive for 12W.  The bunker at the front of 17W was also filled slightly on the LHS to allow players to run the ball up and on to the green.

It has been an exhausting 8 week construction period and we are slightly ahead of schedule and most importantly on budget.  A project like this is not possible without the approval and support of the Club's Board and then the support of the members which has been nothing short of amazing.  I have only heard positive comments from players which given the disruption to the course is very encouraging.  I would also like to take this opportunity to thank the following people;
  • The Club's ground staff who have put in an enormous effort over the period with some very long hot laborious days.
  • The machinery operators which are the father and son combination of Trevor and Chicka King.  Probably the best operators I have ever seen on golf course construction and they are a pleasure to work with, let alone the excellent product they produce as a result of their talent.
  • Action Sands at Chinderah who supplied the sand and expertly blended the top growing medium for us.  Whenever I called there was never a problem for Phil as far as loading the trucks to get the sand here was concerned.
  • Brims Transport who got the sand to site and in particular their operations manager Tony who juggled the trucks around to ensure that we were never waiting for sand.  "Righto Pete I'll see what I can do" was his usual response to my up to six times a day calls.  He never missed once with getting the trucks here on time and even jumped in a truck himself on a few occasions.
  • Twin View Turf who are the licensed Australian suppliers of TifEagle and John Shaw in particular for ensuring the stolons and turf all arrived on time and in excellent health.  Also to their turf laying crews whose work is of a very high standard and they are always co-operative.
  • And the various suppliers of fertilisers, soil testing, irrigation equipment, drainage materials and the growth blanket. 
So now the growing in period really starts and all the greens have had a tremendous strike rate and are filling in very quickly.  I am very confident that we will get them back in to play ahead of schedule.

Planting 12W at last.

Alterations to 17W bunker

Elsewhere on the courses we are starting to dry out again and on the lookout for some much needed rainfall.  A couple of trees were removed this week including one that had died on the RHS of 2R and the large tree on the LHS 14W which had been struck by lightning last week and had quite a dangerous split down the middle and was potentially very dangerous.  That reminds me of a former Course Super who called his chainsaws "thunder and lightning".  When he would remove a tree and have a member query its removal he would reply " ahh thunder and lightning got it'!!

Dead tree now gone RHS 2R.

LHS 14W tree on the way down.

And there is no rest in sight with the River course greens renovation taking place next Monday and Tuesday.  Always two long days and not the days that any rainfall is required.  About 20mm at 7pm on Tuesday night would be ideal!!

Sunday, November 20, 2016

The weather has continued to favour the works on the West greens TifEagle conversion still powering along and approaching an end.  The second major storm that hit the courses last Saturday again caused little or no damage to the new surfaces which was a great relief.  18W was finished off and was planted today with 12W having nearly all the final shaping done.  Unfortunately the plant material will not be available until next Friday so planting will be delayed until then and a greens nursery (spare turf) will also be developed next week.  14W also had its cover removed this week.

I have had several questions about the planting method and the "stolons" are just small pieces of grass that are planted and kept wet until such time as thay have taken root.  Not unlike taking a cutting off an azalea and growing it on but in this case there are tens of thousands of pieces of plant material.

12W presented some challenges with a very shallow growing medium and no gravel layer.  The decision was made to dig down through the drainage to make the depth consistent with the other greens and re-install the drainage and also a gravel layer.  The green must have previously been located in what would have been a grove of trees with a large number of stumps evident, particularly on the LHS.  There were also some massive tree roots which are the biggest yet encountered on the project.

Next week we take a breath and get ready to plant 12W on Friday and do quite a bit of cleaning up around the place as well as get in to some serious greenkeeping on the developing greens.  It has been interesting to note that 11W which was planted 8 days after 13W is in front in its development.  This could be put down to the afternoon shade that 13W receives which will be something to monitor.

The couchgrass on the surrounds is certainly enjoying the extra moisture and fertiliser and that coupled with no golfers trampling it down has it growing profusely and sending runners in to the greens which are now being trimmed to stop such encroachment.

11W in full sunlight @ 3.30pm.

The shade starting to roll across 13W at the same time.

Uncovering 14W

One of the tree roots growing in from the RHS 12W

A collection of tree roots from 12W
Foreign couch running in to the new greens

First load of top blend in to 12W
Final roll on 12W

Friday, November 11, 2016

Works continue on the West greens TifEagle conversion with 10 receiving a tweak earlier in the week and 18 being completed with just the clean up to go.  One of my fears was realised this week with a rain event occurring which has the potential to cause severe wash out of the greens.  The storm that rolled through on Thursday afternoon dropped 28mm in no more than 15 minutes then backed up with another quick 10mm for a total of 38.  The rain was as heavy as you could get and the greens all came through with what could only be described as minimal damage.  The other bonus was the new work to the LHS of 18W prevented the bunkers from washing out which normally would have happened with such heavy rain.

The rain was very welcome on another front as the fairways were on the edge and nearly as dry as I have seen them in my time here.  Another really good photo demonstrating the effect of the root pruning on RHS 11R below.

Back to the greens and the cover was removed from 11W after 19 days and the green was mown immediately at 7mm which was a great start.  11, 13 and 16 were all given a heavy sanding which is an important part of the program to get the greens in play.

Another good root pruning success.
Heavy sanding on 11W

An outbreak of disease on 12W - something I wont miss!

Final trim and roll on 18W
Just poking its head out
Off to see the world!

The two photos above are of a baby Rainbow Lorikeet  that has nested in a hollow in a tree close by one of the irrigation controllers.  The top photo was one week before the bottom one and it successfully flew away into the world.  Having your office in amongst Mother Nature is seriously one of the perks of the job!!

Friday, November 4, 2016

The seeming whirlwind that is the West greens TifEagle conversion rolled on this week with 10W being completed and ready for planting next Tuesday.  It did slow us up as the drainage was replaced as well as the gravel layer to try and keep the new growing profiles the same.  Up to 850 mm was excavated from the green and the bulk of the drainage was 700mm deep encased in what could only be described as marine mud/clay.  Once again I doubt much water ever got to the drainage especially with the material that was below the two upper layers that was virtually impervious.  All of the material in the green was unusable and was trucked to the left side of 6R where a few mounds were installed to help hide the tree debris dumping area.  15 was successfully planted on Tuesday and both 13 and 16 received their first mowing and subsequent heavy sanding.

18 is next on the list and an access "road" has been built to allow the trucks to get up to the green which should be completed comfortably next week.  Alterations will be made to the front and mid left of the green surround to assist in diverting run off water from the green washing out the bunkers.  The mid left bunker will also be removed as part of the planned works.

Planting day for 15

The extraordinary profile on 10

First mow for 13
The road to 18

Elsewhere on the course and things are very dry and in need of some rain with unfortunately none in the forecast period.  The benefit of root pruning in August is showing up with some distinct lines showing where the areas with no tree roots are still hanging in quite well.

Root pruning result LHS 11R
And as I mentioned a couple of weeks ago the benefit of greens renovation has really been shown with the recent dry and last couple of days of heat.  The front nine West greens are all hanging in exceptionally well with good root structure whereas the two remaining back nine greens - 12 and 18 - are full of dry patch stress areas.  Bring on the TifEagle!!

Friday, October 28, 2016

Another very productive week on the West greens TifEagle conversion with 14 being finished off on Monday and planted on Thursday and then 15 to the stage of being ready for planting next Tuesday.  So half the greens are planted and we now move to 10 on Monday morning.  I have been looking forward to this one following descriptions by staff of car parts appearing in the walls of the bunkers so heavens knows what's under the green.  It has always been the most difficult to maintain which is fairly obvious from the amount of foreign couchgrass that had invaded over the years.

Speaking of what's in the greens there are two piles of material adjacent to 15W tee that come from 14 and 15 and they are poles apart in their texture and specification which perhaps answers the question of just why the maintenance of the greens was so difficult given the varying soil profiles.  The material from 14 will be usable as top dressing material on fairways whilst the pile from 15 will be used to top dress the CIP bunker areas from last year.

The cover was removed from 13 on Tuesday after 13 days and the growth of the surrounds is astounding as shown in the photo below and the establishment on the green is pretty impressive too with an excellent even coverage.  Fertiliser application commenced immediately in the effort to get a full grass cover ASAP to get the green back in to play.  16 is establishing very well but a constant malfunctioning sprinkler (which has been changed over twice) has caused some wash.  Excellent root growth is evident on 16 after just 7 days as shown below.

15 was interesting in what we found underneath with some more very poorly placed amendment that was right up in the root zone.  We also found several old "small" golf balls in it and discovered that the green drains to the RHS dam not the left!!  While we were at 15 drainage in all 3 bunkers was upgraded. 

Great initial establishment on 13W

A golden oldie buried deep in 15W

Contrasting materials from 14 and 15 (LHS)

More poorly placed amendment

After the cover removal - amazing growth on the surround at 13W

Excellent early root growth at 16

Friday, October 21, 2016

Yet another hectic week as the West greens Tifeagle conversion continues.  This week we were able to plant both 16 and 11 and have 14 nearly finished.  The pace we are moving at is involving long hard hours for all involved but will mean the greens will be back in play faster.

Whilst excavating 14 the drainage in the two greenside bunkers was upgraded as well as the front soft approach having new growing medium installed and drainage cleared which should result in a much drier and more playable approach and bunkers.

14 green was the first one where the sand in the green was suitable for re-use as top dressing material for fairways and it has been stockpiled next to 15W tee for future use.  The advantage of this is the speed at which the green can be excavated because the haul distance is short and it will then be of great benefit to the fairways that are done.  Here's hoping there is some more good material in the rest of the greens.

One of my greenkeepers came up in a rush earlier this week with the news that the Tifeagle PPG had some disease starting to show.  Sure enough there was some discoloration but a few hours later it appeared as "Aerogard burn" as the overspray of a player spraying their legs had gone on the green!!

A few more shots from this week;
16W planted
Some more very poorly placed amendments in 14W

A final trim and a roll on 11W
A dose of Aerogard patch disease!!


Friday, October 14, 2016

Another rather hectic week on the West greens Tifeagle conversion with 13 being planted, 16 having the new growing medium installed and 11 being excavated and irrigation installation commenced.  Once again some surprises with 11 having some very distinct layering throughout the growing medium and some rather unsuitable soil about 150mm under the surface with even more unsuitable material below that.  The green had the same gravel layer as 13 but at a much greater depth.  There was minimal drainage in the green and it wasn't functioning although I doubt any water had ever made it down to the pipes that were about a metre deep.  There was also some novel plumbing ideas as per the photo below.  The drainage issue took most of today to solve and is the first real "hiccup" in the program to date.  

13 green was planted on Wednesday which was lucky as the high winds of Thursday would have made it near impossible to get the cover down.  The cover acts as a greenhouse and increases soil temperature whilst still letting moisture through.  The stolons need to be kept moist for the first ten days in particular after which they should have taken root and become reasonably self sufficient.

I was hoping that up to 50% of the material removed from the existing greens may have been able to be used to topdress some fairways but unfortunately this has not been the case.  To help expedite the excavation some of the material has been used to form some mounds at the rear of 11W towards 10W and 3W green.  These areas will be turfed on Monday.

Next weeks plan is for 11 to be filled and prepared for planting the following week most likely and 14 started subject to suitable weather conditions.  16 will be planted on next Tuesday.

A few photos below of this weeks activities.  

First load of sand in to 16W

Planting 13W

Starting to excavate 11W

Another strange soil profile.

A rather novel way of capping a drainage pipe!!

Friday, October 7, 2016

WOW!!  You here that a lot from the US commentators on the PGA Tour and it's a bit irritating  but it's about the only word to describe the combined efforts of staff and contractors this week.  The West greens Tifeagle conversion has started and in a 4 day week 13W green has been completed with only grassing to come and a significant start has been made on 16W.  This included the replacement of a 50 metre long irrigation main to the LHS of 13.
As expected the excavation unveiled some surprises as have the other 3 greens I have previously excavated in my time here.  None of the soil profiles or construction methods have been the same on any of the greens and some of the soil amendments that have been added have not been done very well and has certainly not made the task of growing Bentgrass here any easier.  Although our climate is the biggest factor against the Bentgrass.
13W was completely excavated out to an average depth of 450mm on Tuesday with irrigation going in on Wednesday then 450 tonne of sand was placed and shaped to the desired contours which are the same as the existing green with an extension to the left, right and rear which has enlarged the green considerably.  A "gravel layer" which is an option when building to USGA specifications was encountered and it was much deeper than would normally be found and the drainage was below this which is normal.  On 16W there was no gravel layer but a reasonably extensive and functional drainage system was found but at quite a shallow depth.
So the project continues next week when 16W will be completed and the next green will be selected subject to weather conditions.  11W is going to need very dry conditions as the trucks need to travel up the RHS of 11W fairway from the half way West.

 It was interesting to observe that we received 10mm of rain on Monday night and I also irrigated the West greens as the water was going to be off for up to 48 hours while the mainline at 13W was replaced.  On Thursday afternoon after two quite pleasant days there was significant stress on 11, 12 and 14 West greens.  It was also interesting that the recently renovated front nine West greens had only a small patch of stress at the back of 9W which demonstrates the benefits of greens renovation.  It was also interesting that the rainy Monday this week was enough to trigger an outbreak of disease on the West greens which is something that I certainly won't miss.
Dry patch stress at the front of 12W after 48 hours of no water.

Sod cutter starts on 13W. 

Bobcat ready to strip the turf off.

The "pinky" strip is not well placed amendments in 13W.

A happy face means this spot level is correct!!

First load of new sand in to 13W just after sunrise.
Starting 16W.

Disease outbreak on 13W just before the excavator arrived.