Friday, January 27, 2017

And then there was one!!!  Barring a catastrophe overnight West greens 10 and 18 will open to play tomorrow leaving just the 12th to go.  18W is only 10 weeks since planting and 10W is 11 weeks with 13W being the oldest green in play at just 15 weeks.  Improvement in the putting surface and coverage is noticeable virtually every day and once all greens are in play then some serious "across the board" greenkeeping can take place to smooth the surface out. 

The River greens have had some extra attention applied especially now that the "silly season" of golf has passed.  Almost daily 6am starts on the River course has made even bare basic maintenance difficult but time is now available for more work to be done.

Finally the end of the short working weeks with the passing of Australia Day.  Missing a days work has a dramatic effect on what can be achieved on the courses.  One staff member on annual leave and another with a family emergency on top of a casual employee resigning last Friday made it an extra tough week to get the work done.  Fortunately the irrigation system behaved itself and only required routine inspection over the week. 

A couple of calm mornings early in the week afforded the opportunity to get some herbicide out on the West course.  Most green surrounds and fairway borders were treated resulting in some yellowing off which will recover rapidly.

Hard to believe this is just 11 weeks ago on 18W

Friday, January 20, 2017

Another irrigation leak that was found this week was cause for concern for most of Wednesday as the repair had to be done immediately which meant the water needed to be shut down from 9.30am on Wednesday which left the Bentgrass greens and the new TifEagle greens with no back up water if required during what was the hottest day of the week.  Fortunately they got through unscathed.

The new TifEagle greens continue to develop and 10 was nearly ready to be opened this week just ten weeks after planting which was when 11, 14, and 16 were opened.  15 was the fastest and opened 8 weeks after planting.  So the greens are still young and maturing and are all at different mowing heights due to their age which is a logistical nightmare to co-ordinate at times.  Once the greens are all at the same height then a proper program can be commenced to get consistency across the back nine.   

Elsewhere on the courses the 50mm of rain that fell in that brutal storm last Sunday morning has done the world of good.  We probably didn't get full value of all the rain as it came down so fast that a lot of it ran off but it certainly sparked things up, in particular the fairways.  They were treated with the normal monthly application of growth regulator this week and I really don't know what I would do without the product.  One of the big advantages of the growth regulator is its ability to stop the formation of seedhead on the Couchgrass which is very difficult to mow off.  It also really tightens the surface up when there is adequate moisture available and as its name suggests it regulates the growth.  We only operate two fairway mowers over the 36 holes which contain about 32 hectares of mown fairway and we would need to double that without using the regulator.  Two more mowers mean two more staff to drive them and fuel to run them so there are significant savings realised by using it not to mention the great playing surfaces. 

Friday, January 13, 2017

A very productive week with fewer players than the previous weeks making it a lot easier to get the work done.  One of the skills you need to work on a course as busy as Cool Tweed is the ability to keep working in amongst the play and it is something that is talked about with all prospective employees.
The week didn't start well though as I heard the irrigation pumps cycling when there was no sprinklers running which generally means a leak which I quickly found as I walked to the pump shed and saw the water bubbling out of the 17R tee rockwall.  Visions of uprooting the entire rockwall appeared and the need for some sort of excavator was going to be required which on a moments notice is not always that easy to arrange together with the knowledge that it was a 150mm mainline.  But the excavator that did the West greens was going to be working on Queensland time on Monday and could come in first thing to do the digging.  So at 4.30 am we started the dig and fortunately found the leak outside the wall and got the job done.  It did mean that there was no water available if required for 8 very new greens and 9 tender Bentgrass greens in 30+ degree temperatures so it was a fairly nerve wracking day hoping for the best.  Purging the air that gets in to the lines is extremely important and this was done late in the day followed by a full irrigation cycle so after arriving to the course at 4.15am I got back in my car at 7.25pm to go home.

Doing the repair

And I guess last Friday was sort of part of this week when some moron decided that the courses would be a good 4 wheel drive venue and in particular the bunkers.  Fortunately there was little damage to the turf and / or the bunkers as they wheeled through 15 bunkers and across 6 greens including 15W which was only opened the day after.

Out of LHS bunker 14R and across the green

Thru RHS bunker 16R and across the green

Across 15W green

The back 9 West greens continue to develop with 5 of the 8 currently in play.  The greens are still very young and will continue to develop.  10W was close to being opened this week but it is still only 9 weeks since it was planted so another week will do it wonders.  All the greens should be back in play by February 4 which is well in advance of when anticipated.

The greens are being constantly monitored for soil moisture during the day to ensure that there is no heat stress / drying out of which there has been none evident at this stage.  The 5 greens that are open lose about 25% of soil moisture content during the day which would just about be curtains for them if they were Bentgrass.

Friday, January 6, 2017

56 of the most welcome millimetres of rain earlier in the week with parts of the courses as dry as I have seen.  You know it's dry when there are burn marks left from buggies driving across areas that are parched so the rain was just in time.  The promise of more rain to come on Friday night is quite tantalising so hopefully it arrives and is slow enough to allow it to soak in.

The crew have done a great job over the short weeks with nearly everything getting covered over the past two weeks.  The massive number of players doesn't help productivity but the work continues although you need to keep your eyes aware of balls.

11, 13 and 16 West greens were opened last week end and have survived their first week relatively unscathed despite the large player numbers.  They are a little rough around the collars and surrounds but the greens are in fine condition and the surrounds are improving by the day.  14 and 15 will open this week end after only 10 weeks growth time since planting.  10 and 18 are both down to greens height so won't be far away from play.

Opening day for 11W

18W mowing height coming down