Friday, May 25, 2018

A vastly different end to this week with a very cool breeze blowing all day on Friday and then quite a shower of rain to finish it off.  The daylight hours are shrinking fast as well and this adds up to the warm season turf we have on the courses starting to go to sleep for the winter.  The West greens in particular have lost some more colour and have tightened up which is the natural reaction of the grass at this time of year.  All the other playing areas have now all but stopped growing as well.  As mentioned a few weeks ago it is now more important than ever to fill your divots with sand and repair pitchmarks on the greens on both courses.

I read an article this week (which I can't find again) and Mike Clayton was quoted as saying something like - the groundstaff on golf courses should stop raking bunkers and let the players care for them on their own as it is the one part of the golf course that the players are equipped and able to maintain themselves.  I don't think I would like to see the result here at Cool Tweed though given the poor attention given to bunker raking as evidenced from this weeks photo below.  There's the old saying of when you repair your pitchmark, repair a couple of others.  We might need something like when you rake your footprints out after playing a bunker shot, rake a few others marks as well!!?? 

LHS 17W Thursday morning!

Friday, May 18, 2018

Another glorious day to end the week and again the low wind speeds gives us the chance to get the courses cleaned up and looking great.  Thanks for the compliments we have been getting on playing conditions recently with some very positive reports coming through.

We are back to fairly low staff numbers at the moment with the summer casuals all but finished up so most of our efforts are directed to routine course maintenance.  Even though the growth has slowed the mowers are still out in force presenting a surface and the bunker rakes are certainly doing some raking.  Unfortunately we are also spending too much time repairing pitchmarks, particularly on the new West greens.  They may be firmer than the River greens but balls will still leave a pitchmark that needs repairing as can be seen below.  The lower close up is of an unrepaired pitchmark that was subsequently scalped by the mower and becomes an ideal site for a disease outbreak.  So please check for a pitchmark and repair as required.  

Pitchmark on 14W

Scalped old pitchmark on 14W.

The Byron Nelson PGA tournament in Dallas is certainly creating some comment although Mark Leishman's opening 61 made light of the predictions that the course would be too difficult to score on.  It's an amazing course and here are a few stats to ponder;
  • Average green size is 1200 sq. metres which is twice the size of 12W at Cool Tweed.
  • The double green is 3,400 sq. metres which apparently makes it the biggest green in the USA.  And the greens are walk mowed!!!!
  • There is 40 hectares of fairways compared with Cool Tweeds 34 hectares.  But we have 36 holes!!!  Most 18 hole courses have between 12 and 16 hectares.
  • The actual fairway mowing height has been raised from normal member play height to slow the course down for the pro's?? 
  • All short grass away from the greens is mown at the same height - no step cuts to be seen.
  • The roughs are not mown and are made up of "Blackland prairie seed" which is the most endangered eco system in the USA. 
  • And there is not a tree on the golf course despite its name! 

And the very sad news from the USA this week of the passing of Dr James Beard who was one of the first American turf professors to travel to Australia.  He visited our shores in 1976, 86 and 88 and I will never forget the impact he had on me as a young Course Super back then.  I couldn't believe the knowledge he possessed and his willingness to share it through his presentations and one on one conversations.  He wrote many books, one of which - "turf management for golf courses" was first published in 1982 and is still considered the bible of golf course management to this day.  I doubt there would be a course super anywhere who hasn't owned a copy and I still refer to it regularly.  His research and passion for education is no doubt one of reasons turf on golf courses is at the level it is today.  He inspired not only generations of Superintendents but also researchers and academics alike.  Vale Dr Beard. 

Friday, May 11, 2018

One of the amazing aspects of life in Australia is the weather and it is why it is so predominant in the media and daily discussion.  This week for us saw some really bleak weather early clear in to two magnificent days to finish the week off.  You then hear about 260mm falling on Mount Wellington in Tasmania, most of which runs off the mountain and down through Hobart itself.  This in a city where a downpour of 20mm would cause some serious issues with flash flooding.

The ladies made a sensible decision on Tuesday in amongst the rain and shifted their comp to River course only which gave us a run at the West course largely player free which is always a bonus that despite the rain, we take full advantage of.  So the greens were double de-thatched and edged and fairways fertilised and it was a very productive day.  Fast forward to today and we had 144 players in an 8.30am shotgun on the West and 140 odd players in the members comp from 6.30am 1 tee start and there wasn't much room to move out there!!

I have been taking advantage of "The Players channel" on Foxtel this past week or so and taking in some great golf on an amazing golf course.  A few observations;

  • The greens were originally Tifdwarf and were then changed to Mini Verde for a few years and then converted to TifEagle 2 years ago.
  • Depending on the timing of the tournament the course, including the greens, is fully oversown.  That isn't the case this year but will be next year when the tournament date moves back to March which is a much cooler time of year.
  • Some of the footage shows the greens browning off which is just the grass used to oversow dying off in the heat.  The greens were generally always oversown but since the switch to TifEagle they haven't been but that may change next year with the March date.  Sawgrass is far enough north in Florida to get some pretty healthy frosts as per the photo below.
One of the most interesting things was the spike marks on the greens years ago when players still wore steel spikes.  One of Steve Elkington's wins saw the greens incredibly spiked up which was one of the toughest aspects of greens preparation back in the day.  It was often made more difficult by players deliberately scuffing the turf with their spiked shoes and yet is now not a great a problem with the new soft spikes although some of them can still cause some damage.  I bet there would have been a lot of happier players if they were allowed to tap down spike marks as to be introduced next year in the rules change!!

And as usual for the, dare I say it, "major" tournaments, a huge volunteer crew was on hand to assist with course preparations for the event.  The photo below shows the maintenance facility at Sawgrass full to the brim.

Need a lot of bums to fill those seats!!

A frosty #18 at Sawgrass in late January.


Friday, May 4, 2018

A nice contrast to last weeks windy end to the week with a beautiful autumn day to round the week off.  We had the chance over the last couple of days to get the courses cleaned up and pretty much 100% mown and I must say they were looking a treat on Friday afternoon and are a credit to the hard work of the crew.  It doesn't look like it will last long though with a strong southerly forecast for tomorrow.

Not much else to report with things going a little quiet without the heavy growth that we had over late summer and early autumn.  It's been a good chance to catch up on a lot of little jobs that are moved down the "to do" list when the grass is growing.  Trimming valve boxes, distance markers and drains and repainting as necessary has started again this week.

As we move towards winter and no growth, Wednesday and Saturday players in particular will notice the rotation of the daily tee markers.  Under the current course rating system the course needs to be set up no more than 100 metres shorter than the rated length to still stay rated so we take the opportunity to move the tees forward as much as possible on normal comp days.  If you have a look at the fixture book and see how many days the blue tee blocks will be required in July and August you may work out why we do this. 

I saw this on the official PGATour site;  Since 2003 the Wells Fargo field is 1,270 under par on the first 15 holes at Quail Hollow. On the final 3 holes the field is ... ... 5,899 over par!!

And finally......

Well said!!