Friday, May 19, 2017

You certainly couldn't say we weren't warned about the rain to finish the week off.  After a run of superb windless autumn days it was a reality check to get such a miserable Friday.  The best part of 50mm has so far fallen on the courses and they are very wet despite the lightish nature of the rain.

Conditions such as these really highlight the softness of the Bentgrass greens in comparison to the TifEagle in particular.  The pitch marks are still terrible on the Bents and the lack of respect by the players is disappointing but it is certainly nothing new.  I mentioned last week with a photo of a very poorly filled divot that players should "leave the course as you would like to find it".  With golf shoes like the ones below that would be pretty hard to do on soft greens.  They look more like a weapon!! 

You could cause some serious damage with these!!

The windless conditions this week presented the perfect opportunity for us to follow up the trimming of tree bases with an application of weedkiller around the trees to stop regrowth.  It's amazing how much tidier it makes the courses look with the trees trimmed.  As I mentioned the other week it is a huge undertaking and is difficult to get done when the grass is still growing.

As mentioned the casual employees hours have been reduced and we will be having a BBQ breakfast to finish the season off on Tuesday morning.

And just to finish off someone might be in trouble with this tee sign at last weeks Portugal Open!!
Which one is right!!

Friday, May 12, 2017

Not very much to report this week as things are really starting to slow down around the courses.  A major irrigation break on a 150mm pipeline at the rear of 1 west green was probably the biggest thing to happen for the week.  Fortunately our mini excavator operator Gus dropped everything to come in and dig the hole for us which was quite large and helped expedite the repair.

As I mentioned last week the greens at Sawgrass this week for the Players Championship are TifEagle and are one year old and from the look of the first round were putting great.  Here at Cool Tweed the new TifEagle's have really slowed down and have lost a lot of their colour which is normal for this time of year and is the same as 17 West two years ago.  Yes it's two and a half years since 17 was done!!  Most grasses respond colour wise to an application of iron sulphate but not so much with the TifEagle so don't get to concerned with the lighter colour of the greens.

And on the topic of Sawgrass and the famous par 3 17th, I played it in 1988 with then Superintendent Fred Klauk and couldn't hit the green and was cursing designer Pete Dye all the way to 18 tee.  Funnily enough Pete Dye is probably best remembered for the island green and  it has stuck ever since with this quote from Pete himself;  "People have the idea I’m in love with island greens. Well, I’ve designed two in 50 years. Once you’re stereotyped, it’s almost impossible to lose it"!!

The American Superintendents Association are conducting a campaign at the moment to "Thank a Super" which has already been mentioned on the Players telecast.  I particularly can relate to the following summary of the start of a day at the course;
Open the office: Tick
Quick check of course: Tick
Put schedule together: Tick
Sprinklers on: Tick
Greens mowed: Tick     
Eat breakfast: Tick 

And as things slow down on the courses it is more important than ever to leave the course as you would like to find it.  That refers to sanding divots, repairing pitchmarks and raking bunkers.  Divots on fairways take a lot longer to recover at this time of year so filling them with sand and smoothing them is most important.  Unlike the attempt below although at least an attempt was made! 

Not the best thing for the fairway mowers.

Friday, May 5, 2017

A fairly quiet week on the courses but certainly not play wise.  As always the Queensland public holiday on Monday saw both courses absolutely jam packed all day and then the rain on Thursday only put off a few ladies with a couple of big social groups out there.  The week was finally capped off by the Men of League annual golf day.  

There has been quite a bit of reporting in the media lately about mental health and its effects on former sportsmen in particular which is one of the areas that the Men of League organisation do a lot of great work.  I attended a workshop last week that was conducted by the Australian Superintendents Association in conjunction with the PGA on mental health in the workplace and it was very informative and alarming.  Member expectations of their course and pro shop never seem to diminish and yet there always seems to be less resources to get the job done.  April / May is a tough time as well with golfers wanting to know why their course and club can't be like Augusta National.  A simple answer is 100 volunteers on top of the existing 55 staff working on the course and an unlimited budget which were a couple of the reasons I posted a few weeks back.  Mental health problems are becoming more and more prevalent in the course maintenance area with Superintendents trying to match the members expectations by doing "more with less".  A brutal summer along the east coast of Australia and particularly in Sydney has had Superintendents stress levels at an all time high this past year and unfortunately a number of long term Supers gave the game away to be able to live and work a "normal" life.

Back to the course and this week we were able to get a few jobs done that are normally way down the priority list with the available staffing resources.  One of these jobs is trimming around the tree bases which with the number of trees we have is a huge undertaking from the staff and time point of view and we were able to make a start with casual employee crew still employed at this stage and the grass growth slowing quite dramatically.  The casuals hours are reduced over the winter months and our staff numbers drop right back.  I well remember my first day in June 1999 when there were 19 crew available to work on my first day in the middle of winter and the club didn't actually own fairway or rough mowers as that was contracted out at the time.  My average crew over this past summer was 14 and it's a testament to their attitude and work ethic that they can achieve what they do particularly with the grow in of the new greens added to the workload.

The new TifEagle West greens continue to improve and settle in.  Next week's Players Championship on the US PGA Tour will be played at TPC Sawgrass where the greens were changed over to TifEagle immediately following last years tournament.  In fact it will be the 5th time this year a US PGA Tour tournament has been played on TifEagle greens.  Weather permitting preparation of the temporary greens will commence next week in readiness for the conversion of the front nine west greens that is due to start on October 3.