Friday, April 28, 2017

It seems incredible that we can nearly say "it's June next month"!!  I can't believe how fast the year has gone and these recent short weeks haven't helped either although luckily the grass has all but stopped growing across the courses.  
I have had lot's of people ask how we fared through the flood and after hearing the stories from other course's my response now is we had no damage.  Stories of Bobcats pushing sludge off greens and 36 man hours required to push the sludge off just one green at another course and several still not playing 18 holes yet.  One course had a bridge wash out and they haven't been able to access two greens yet which is a total disaster for them.  We thankfully fared quite well in comparison.
The front nine West greens conversion to TifEagle is also looming large on the horizon and preparations are well advanced.  I couldn't imagine we will have as good a run with the weather this year particularly on this side of the course that gets and stays wetter than the back nine, particularly in the areas that the heavy trucks need to access.  There are no proposals for major changes on the greens but greens 2, 3, and front of 8 will have the slope softened and the LHS bunker on 9 will come out and the green extended to the left.  The greens are generally much bigger than the back nine so the project may be a little slower coming together.  The works are planned to start on the first Tuesday in October following the long week end as per last year.
And a couple of stunning sunset and sunrise photos below to finish the week.

Sunset over 4R last Sunday.

Sunrise over 4W on Wednesday

Friday, April 21, 2017

A very busy Easter week end of golf with the Australian Kiwi Golf Club national tournament held over Sunday and Monday.  Unfortunately it didn't allow the course staff any time off over Easter but fortunately the players care of the course was excellent with barely an unrepaired pitchmark evident on the greens and the bunkers raked quite well considering the number of shots played out of them over the two days.  A lot better than the way the front bunker on 11W was left after todays Members comp!!  The bunkers were raked in amongst play and only players in the comp had gone through when I saw this.  It was a left hander which might narrow the field down!!

Why do we bother raking them?

Food for thought?

The photo below is from the 1992 LA Open where Tiger played his first PGA Tour event as an amateur and he finished as the low amateur.  Standing next to then 32 year old Fred Couples who won the tournament and who has himself had massive troubles with back injury but was well enough to still finish in the top 20 at last weeks US Masters.  Sad news today with Tiger undergoing another back operation.

25 years ago!!

And even sadder news was that of the sudden passing just before Easter of Marcus Price who was the Course Super at Royal Queensland GC where he spent his entire working life.  Marcus passed away at age 47 and was one of the finest turf craftsmen I know which was evidenced by the superb playing surfaces at RQ.  The Queensland golfing community came together to farewell him yesterday.  Vale Marcus.

Friday, April 14, 2017

The courses are just about back to normal after the flooding and are now actually heading towards their winter dormancy with the growth rate on greens and fairways slowing noticeably.  It would have been nice to get another weeks growth to aid the recovery on the fairways that were inundated and suffered a burn from the salt water but as I said last week we are very fortunate with the lack of damage in comparison to a lot of other SE Queensland and Northern Rivers courses. 

The River greens probably received their last sanding for the year as the weather cools.  The sand used is blended with some Humate and also some Gypsum to help counter the effects of the salts in the irrigation water. 

With the Masters completed for another year it may be timely to look at a few of the facts about the course that set it aside from all other courses around the world.  
  • Apart from the greens the entire property is oversown with a Rye grass and that is one of the features that so many people comment on is that it is all one colour and so consistent.
  • The regular course staff numbers around 55 and that is supplemented by 100 volunteers from around the world come tournament week.  The logistics of managing a crew that size alone is a feat in itself.  And the extra staff aren't just some "dads army", they are some of the most senior staff from some of the worlds best courses that volunteer for the week.  
  • The incumbent Super has been there 30 years and has been in charge for 20 but as the club forbids its employees to speak publicly unfortunately you don't get to hear anything from him.  
  • At Augusta, the rough is called the first cut (because Augusta had no rough when it opened and still doesn’t) and the huge galleries of spectators are called “patrons.”
  • Augusta's design has been tinkered with over the years and have had an array of architects including Perry Maxwell, Robert Trent Jones, George W. Cobb, George Fazio, Byron Nelson, Jack Nicklaus and Tom Fazio.
  • Hole 13 is called Azalea which is understandable considering there are over 1500 bushes planted there that due to the strange weather that was experienced this year didn't bloom.
  • Members only play the course for 7 months of the year and there are no carts.
  • The greens were converted from Couchgrass to Bentgrass in 1980 which is the opposite of the program at Cool Tweed.  Augusta though closes for the summer so that the greens are not put under any undue heat stress.  They also have the ability to cool and even heat up the soil profile of the greens.
  • The course is exceedingly more challenging and difficult than it appears on TV and it is suggested that a true 15 handicapper would not be able to break 100 when in tournament condition. 
  • And this year is 20 years since Tiger became the youngest winner ever of the Masters.
Back to Australian golf and tour professionals Todd Sinnott and Ryan Ruffels had a game in a recent competition at Metropolitan GC in Melbourne where Todd had 39 points and Ryan 37.  Pretty unremarkable until you consider that Todd was playing off +7 and Ryan +5 so there was some hot golf played that day with the DSR at 72!!  A few weeks earlier Ryan reportedly had 42 points at Victoria which off converts to a 61 off the stick!!

Friday, April 7, 2017

Wow what a week it's been.  Last Friday seems a world away and it feels like we have been to hell and back but when you hear the stories from other golf clubs and the damage they have sustained we had very "minor" damage at Cool Tweed.  And obviously the human suffering that has occurred over the past week makes our golf course problems seem rather insignificant and I trust that members and their families survived unscathed.

To get both courses back in to a playable condition so fast is an absolute credit to the course staff.  I have said it before but members don't really know how lucky they are to have this group working for them looking after the courses.  We were three men down with one on annual leave and two on sick leave so the reduced numbers stepped up and did a fantastic job.  A special thanks to the volunteers that came in and "stick picked" the West course on Tuesday which expedited the entire operation.

When you hear stories of Bobcats being required to push 6 inches of mud off greens and one course possibly taking three months to get 18 holes operational again, we really were fortunate.

With the West course closed on Wednesday we took the opportunity to give the West Bentgrass greens a solid tine aerate which is the first time that the greens have been "opened" since October to allow for some desperately needed air exchange.  If this process was carried out over summer the greens would dry out far too quickly to the point of dying.  The video below shows what we did.

And the Blog certainly proved popular over the past week with 2,155 page views since last Friday.  It normally gets about 80 views a day with a peak up to around 150 on Fridays.  Glad to have been able to keep you informed.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

A huge thank you to all the volunteers who came in this morning and assisted the regular Dad's Army crew with a huge effort in "stick picking" the majority of the West course.  It is still pretty soggy in most parts, particularly in the roughs where most of their work took place.  It makes the work of our contractors and club staff so much faster by being able to pick up the piles of sticks and get the course mowable and playable ASAP.

Speaking of playability, the River course will be fully playable on Wednesday with a final decision on motorised buggies to be made by 5.30am but at this stage late on Tuesday it would take significant rainfall to keep them off.  The West course will remain closed on Wednesday.

Considering what the River course looked like last Saturday morning it has been a herculean effort by the course staff to get the course to where it is and I think players will be pleasantly surprised when they see just how good the conditions are out there.  A few fairways have suffered a salt burn but this should grow out over the next week or so. 

A very big thank you is also in order for the contractors the club employ.  Kings Machinery Hire, Chicka's Excavator hire, Peter McConnell Backhoe hire and Gold Coast Tree Loppers always come to our aid in our time of need and the courses would be closed a lot longer without their support and expertise.

The putting cups have been out of the back 9 West greens since last week and a cane toad decided it was a good spot to get out of the wind!!

Cane toad on 15W green hole!!

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Another update @ 10am Sunday morning.  Just about all the water has receded from the courses with just the odd puddle still remaining.  The ground is absolutely sodden though and will take some time to dry out especially those fairways that were submerged the longest such as 1, 6, 9, 15 and 16 River and 2, 4, 11, 12, 13, 14, and 16 West.  

Another couple of comparison shots from this morning;

1 & 9R fairways

From rear 1R green

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Update on the courses @ 2pm Saturday April 1.  The water is receding well and is constantly flowing even if it is slowly which is very important as if it starts to sit still the silt in the water will settle and form a layer on the turf surface.  High tide has just passed and the water level has still receded. 

It has been too wet for us to do too much and 6 of the staff rostered this morning come from south of the Tweed River and couldn't get to work!!  The greens on both courses have been cleared from debris and the front nine West greens were mown this morning as they are growing furiously!!  15W green has just had the last area that was inundated cleared and apart from some disease which is totally expected it has come through very well.  The other greens on both the River and back nine West should be mown tomorrow. 

The clean up in earnest will start on Monday and I doubt if the courses will be playable before Wednesday at the earliest.  

A couple of comparison photos to earlier posts taken around high tide this afternoon;

From rear 1R green

From 6R tee

Path to 2R tee