Friday, August 31, 2018

Maybe I should lament about the weather more often, particularly the lack of rain as I did last week with nearly 50mm of rain falling last week end.  Most of it would have soaked in which is just what the doctor ordered as they say.  Recent soil tests had sodium levels in the greens very high which is normal after a prolonged dry spell and high use of irrigation with our recycled water.  Whilst the water is free it is not perfect and does cause some issues for the turf although it is very consistent in makeup.  The rain would have helped "flush" the sodium out of the root zone and allow the greens to start growing again which has been evident from the green up this week.  Some specific fertilising will be employed as well as some solid tining of the greens in the coming weeks.

The staff did a great job getting the course ready for todays Pro am with a "playerless" course available on Thursday afternoon allowing the courses to be fully blown and mown during the course of the day.   Fairways like 2, 4, and 11R always seem to have leaf matter on them and it's not often we get the chance to get the courses so clean of debris so it's very satisfying to see them in that condition. Didn't last long though as the predicted "near gale" force winds have arrived blowing debris down and making scoring tough.

Another old saying of red sky at night a sailors delight didn't quite come true with the sunset below on 4 River on Thursday evening.  Then again I guess sailors want wind which they certainly got on Friday.

4R into the sunset.

11R spotlessly clean on Thursday afternoon.
11R not so clean Friday afternoon!!😧

A bit of a sad day to farewell Russ Davis today.  Russ has been here 21 years and whilst in my former position at Victoria GC the Pro there Brian Simpson celebrated his "21st birthday" at that club, so in my 35 years as a Superintendent I have spent 34 of them with just 2 Club Pro's which is pretty amazing.  Russ is one of natures true gentlemen which always makes me wonder how he finished up barracking for Collingwood!!  Good luck in the future with whatever you do Russ.
Interested visitor in an on course irrigation controller!!

Friday, August 24, 2018

A very cold week of low temperatures in the mornings with frost patches apparent on many fairway areas, particularly on Tuesday.  Courses in Brisbane actually had full frost cover which isn't a good thing as motorised buggies cause leaf burn as they move over the turf.  Even wheeled buggies can cause dramas so thanks to our coastal location we generally only get frost patches.  I remember Garth Shambrook telling me that he only ever saw one complete frost on the courses in all his years here.

Frost patches on 1R fairway.
And speaking of Garth, here he is on the right with his happy band of volunteer Dads Army lads circa 1998.

Dads army
This time last year I was lamenting the dry weather we were experiencing with only 4mm of rain falling in August.  That was then followed in September by the first month I had seen no rain recorded!!  Only 2mm so far this August so hopefully the forecast rain this week end arrives overnight Saturday to freshen the courses up and allow the mixed 4somes to go ahead unhindered.  It has been a dry year by our standards with just 855mm recorded YTD compared with recent years;  2017 - 1040mm,  2016 - 1310mm,  2015 - 1760mm,  2014 - 840mm,  2013 - 1925mm and 2012 - 1926.

Friday, August 17, 2018

The USPGA Championship has been run and won and it was interesting that at in June everyone seemed concerned with Pros struggling to make par in a major and then last week the scores were too low!!  Apparently Brooks Koepka earned more money at the U.S. Open and PGA Championship this year than Arnold Palmer and Gary Player won in their careers -- combined!!

The course seemed to play very well considering the weather they have had in the USA, particularly this summer.  St Louis is one of the toghest places on the planet to grow Bentgrass with extreme summer temperatures and high humidity contributing to the difficulty.  Throw in the fact that they get snow there as well which reduces the growth window and the staff did an enormous job to make it work.  I liked the commonsense sign that greeted the players in the locker room when they arrived.

Some commonsense.

The PGA tour moves to North Carolina and to Sedgefield CC which I wrote about in 2012 when they converted their Bentgrass greens to Champion Couchgrass in a very tight time frame prior to the tournament.  That was done due to the difficulty of growing Bentgrass during summer in their climate when the tournament is held.  Unfortunately some of the worst winter weather on record caused severe dieback on their greens and the staff reportedly planted 135,000 x 2 inch plugs from other greens rather than attempting to re-turf.  A monumental job and reports are that the greens are running beautifully for the tournament.  

Before and after a Sedgefield!!

Back to Cool Tweed and the weather is absolutely superb at the moment.  It's still not warm enough to get the grass really moving as we need the soil temperatures to rise for that to happen.  The River greens are still slow to recover from the shade and wear of the past few months and they got a solid tine aerate earlier this week to try and get some much needed air to the root zone.

A week of tree pruning, predominantly on the West course although we did do a little on the north side of 18R tee and I snapped the photo this afternoon of some sun hitting the surface which would be the first time since probably March.  The pruning certainly lightens the area and the bit of sunlight couldn't possibly do any harm!!  

18R tee

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Another hugely successful Vets week of golf with the amazing run of superb weather continuing for them.  In all the years I think there has omly ever been one wet day and this week the little bit of rain that came was just after play had finished on Monday night as per the radar image below.  And as always I think the courses were left in better order than they started the week!!

Only a few mm but after play!!

And now with all the West greens planted with TifEagle perhaps one of their tests was passed this week when the grazing flock of Cockatoos stayed off the greens and fed only on fairways in the late of the day.  They normally would dig the old Bentgrass greens up and cause significant damage at this time of year.
7W green untouched!

A lot of work being done in the bunkers recently with a practice we call "backfacing"being carried out.  It's a process of dragging sand back down off the bunker face and pushing it back from where players drag the sand when exiting the bunkers.  So essentially levelling the floor of the bunker which is a hard, slow and labourious task but very necessary.

18W bunker after being backfaced.

This coming week will see some tree work being carried out.  A travel tower will be onsite for the week trimming dead, dangerous and intrusive limbs and a stump grinder will also be onsite grinding and repairing stumps.  

Friday, August 3, 2018

It's certainly nice to get back to the courses and the sensational weather that is more spring like than winter.  For the sake of the turf, particularly on the greens I hope the sun continues to shine.  The River greens are having a very tough time of it with the huge amount of play almost literally wearing them out.  The shaded and heavy walk off traffic areas are feeling it the most.  It is easy to see just how much shade and wear affects the greens when you compare shaded greens like 4, 5 and 12 with full sun greens like 16 and 18 on the River course.  The West greens are not as badly shaded but 3 and 5 are having a tough time of it which is to be expected given that they are still only 9 months old.  The photo below is of 12R green at 1pm last Tuesday and shows the extent of the shade on the green that makes growing quality turf virtually impossible.

12R green at 1 pm.

All in all though the courses are in great shape and a credit to my Assistant Simon and the rest of the crew with the work they have put in over the incredibly busy golfing month just gone.  The comments from players in the Senior Amateur that was held this week were very positive which helps make all the hard work worthwhile.

I mentioned about the resistant Poa annua before I left and unfortunately there is no real breakthrough available for Poa control post emergence but there were a couple of pre emergent options that we may try.  It is hardly surprising as controlling Poa seems to be a bit like curing the common cold which for the first time in my travels I didn't get a cold whilst away.  Given we spent a week in Iceland in their "summer" where the temperature never got above 10 degrees celsius it was a bit of a surprise!!  There was an unexpected large number of golf courses in Iceland that are predominantly Poa annua so they don't need to control it that's for sure.  As an aside I think I saw at least 12 golf courses but not one person playing given the weather, despite nearly 24 hours daylight being available!!  So the upshot at Cool Tweed is that we will be trialing a couple of different options for Poa control this coming season.

And if you lost a Callaway ball on the right side of 8R recently it's caught in a tree as shown below!!


That's a Callaway up there!!