Friday, April 27, 2018

A very windy end to the week and it's on days like this that I would love to work on a turf farm where you get to grow your turf with no trees blowing all manner of debris down around you.  The courses were looking very clean prior to this morning and the forecast has the wind hanging around well in to next week.

Apologies to the members in the Wednesday comp this week who had sprinklers come on both 15 and 16 River fairways.  It is caused by a fault in one of the irrigation controllers that is unforeseeable and spasmodic at best.  The bad news is that the component causing the fault is now out of production and unavailable and I am fast running out of spares.  The controllers were installed in 2002 and have served very well but as with all things subject to the weather they do deteriorate over time, especially with salt air around.

Some of the controllers are double level to allow for the electronics to be above the 100 year flood level.  The upper cabinet houses the electronics and the lower the hydraulic converters.  As previously mentioned we have what's known as a hydraulic irrigation system that relies on water pressure supplied through small 4mm poly tubing to operate the valves on the sprinklers to turn them on and off.  Any interruption to this water supply means that sprinklers will come up and this is the problem with this leaking component at the moment.  So the basic operation is that the electronic boards send a signal to the hydraulic converter that releases pressure and allows the sprinkler to operate via the tube that runs from the controller to each sprinkler.  All of the controllers are centrally controlled via radio by a computer in my office and can also be programmed in the field if needed in the event of a power outage or problem with the computer. 

Double decker.

Electronics box.

Converter box.

Friday, April 20, 2018

I spoke too soon last week about the temperature in the morning after we dropped below 20 degrees at the shed in the morning on Monday this week.  The rest of the week stayed warmer but we aren't far away from slowing right down.  One of the effects of the cooler temperatures is the slow recovery of divots which is particularly noticeable on some of the short doglegs on the River course.  It makes it more important to re-fill your divot with sand to give your fellow players a better chance at a reasonably playable lie.  Although I tend to agree with Tiger Woods that if you land on a sanded divot you should be able to get relief.
The forecast for the next week or so doesn't sound so good rainfall wise so we took the opportunity to get some fertiliser out on some of the weaker tees today.  Quite often a good way to scare the rain away.
And speaking of scaring,  I thought we had a bad duck problem until I saw this photo from a country course in Victoria.  In the USA they have major problems with Canadian Geese as well as ducks damaging greens and most of them have on course dogs to keep the birds off greens.

Good etiquette to stay off the green whilst players are putting!

Wednesday this week was a tough day to make the call on motorised buggies being on.  I heard the rain overnight and checked the airport for their rainfall total and they had 6mm which I thought was about right.  Upon arriving at the course I discovered we had received 27mm!!  The rain was still falling and the thunder and lightning still rumbling and the courses, in particular the West, were under water and hence the call was made which as I mentioned a few weeks ago it is the part of my job that I enjoy least.  It would be a pretty easy call to make at this course in the USA though!!

No chance of buggies on here!!

Friday, April 13, 2018

Soil and ambient temperatures are already starting to drop and this has a slowing effect on turfgrass growth.  We still haven’t dropped below 20ยบ at the shed in the mornings yet which is on par with the previous few years although the growth over the past month has been up following the huge amount of rain that we had received.  

Whilst talking of soil temperatures and weather, spare a thought for the northern States of the USA who are still receiving snowfalls.  The photo below is of Hazeltine GC in Minnesota this week with a lot of snow still on the ground with more forecast for this week end.  The ground is apparently still frozen 3 feet deep!!  At this stage the course won’t open until early May (normally open by now) and generally closes in early November so only a 6 month golfing season!!

April 12, 2018

A bad week for irrigation with a major blowout on 2W fairway and a repair required on the town water mainline to the clubhouse.  This is the third blowout we have had on 2W in a small area so will be looking at replacing a section of the mainline that has obviously been weakened over time.  The main to the clubhouse was losing a lot of water and this repair was done at first light on Friday morning to negate the effect on clubhouse operations.  Licensed plumbers were engaged for the works which is standard practice for us when dealing with potable water.

The reduction in growth is a bit of a sad time for the staff with the casual employees hours being reduced.  There have been anywhere up to 8 casuals employed on the courses over summer and they form a very important part of the crew and resultant course conditions.  My mantra is that “managing a golf course is about bums on seats – as the more you have the more you get done”.  And speaking of staff we are looking forward to welcoming Assistant Superintendent Simon back to work next Monday.  He broke his neck in a surfing accident on Christmas Eve and has been recuperating since.  He has been medically assessed and performed a fairly grueling “fit for work” test last week and is itching to get back to work.

And over the many years I have been managing golf courses I have seen a lot of strange things out on the golf course.  But this one may well be the strangest yet!!  There is a bucket hanging on a branch in a Melaleuca tree on 18R about 12 feet off the ground that could only have been put there deliberately.  It has been there for at least four months and I have been waiting to see if anything was going to happen with it which it hasn’t thus far.

Please explain?

Friday, April 6, 2018

Not much to report on this week although the mowers certainly got a run for their money this past four day week.  To be honest when I saw the courses on Monday night with the amount of grass out there I didn't think there would be any chance that the courses would look the way they do in the four days this cooler Friday afternoon.  Great credit to the course staff for their input this week to get the job done.

Speaking of mowers, one of the big expense lines in the course maintenance budget is fuel and I was doing my fuel figures for March this week and thought I would share some of them with followers of the Blog.  The majority of our machines use diesel fuel, particularly the mowing equipment with most smaller equipment using unleaded.  We also have 3 electric runabout utility vehicles and the greens rollers are all electric.  In March we used 3,478 litres of Diesel at an average cost of $1.32 adding up to a cost of $4,590 for the month.  The fairway mowers used 957L at a cost of $1,263, the rough mowers 1,178L at a cost of $1,554, the intermediate and greens surrounds mowers 566L at a cost of $747 and the greens mowers 218L at a cost of $288.  The bunker raking machines used 322L of unleaded at a cost of $432 for the month.  

Almost all the turf equipment supply companies have all tried alternative fuels, particularly battery powered and to date none have been overly successful in being able to operate at full speed for the time required.  A couple are now close and it will be interesting to watch developments in this area over the coming years.  They have mainly been waiting for the automotive industry to move one way or another so they can then follow suit.

It was interesting watching the Masters start and a couple of USA Course Supers commenting on the first days pin placement sheet saying that they place the flags on their own greens using the template which provides some very interesting placements on their courses!!  The sheet is below and would certainly make for some interesting locations on the undulating River greens here at Cool Tweed.  7 on and 6 from the right wouldn't be all that accessible on 15 River but at least you wouldn't get the result Sergio got!!  Although it was remarkable how cool he stayed with what was shown on the telecast considering his fiery history.