Friday, September 28, 2018

A good week for the courses this week with two good dumpings of rain of 13mm each and mostly at night so no effect on the golf but a great effect on the turf.  There is nothing as good as rainfall for a golf course.  Greens on both courses were sanded this past week with a mix that contains some organic material and some gypsum.  The white fleck / granules visible on the West greens is the gypsum that has a hard time dissolving and mixing in to the very tight surface but is so fine has no effect on ball roll.

While we were commissioning the new pump control unit last week we had to de-pressurise the system several times which puts some dangerous air into the pipe network as we refill the lines and that soon exposes any weak pipe areas as it did on Tuesday morning when a mailine burst in front of 13R green.  A couple of other niggly problems connected with the installation but overall the pumps are operating very well.

A short week next week with the public holiday on Monday followed by a 2 tee start for the Ladies on Wednesday, a normal members comp on Wednesday and Friday and a double shotgun start for the veterans on Thursday.  Somewhere in between all that we will try and get the West course prepped for the first round of the Club Champs which is a 4 tee 6.30am start on Saturday!!!!

Well the golfing world was certainly abuzz with Tigers win last week end and the upcoming Ryder Cup.  The small fields at both East Lake last week and at the Ryder Cup certainly help course presentation, particularly greens, but the word from the volunteers is that the turf at Le Golf National this week eclipses East Lake for the most pure turf they have ever seen.  The regular course staff levels at Golf National is 35 and that ramps up to 80 when they annually host the French Open.  This week for the Ryder Cup there will be 180.  That's right 180.

Photos below show;  
  • Attention to detail pressure cleaning the dam bulkheads.
  • Attention to detail using hand scissors to trim encroaching runners.
  • The 7,000 seat grandstand at the 1st tee.
  • The 12 (twelve) fairway mowers on their way out to do their 
  • And lastly I have seen a video of the green in the photo below on the first practice day with 25 people concurrently working on it to mow the green, rake the two bunkers and change the hole. 

Pressure cleaning.

Hand trimming.

1st tee grandstand.
Fairway mowers on their way out.

Perfect turf.

And further in the world of golf I thought it was ironic that Golf Australia magazine had an article this month discussing the issue of the distance the ball now flies.  Turn the page and there's an article from Justin Thomas on how to increase your distance!!??

Friday, September 21, 2018

As mentioned last week the control interface on the irrigation pump station was replaced this week and it did take the predicted 3 days, one of which was 13 hours long, but it was successful and the pump set is humming away nicely.  The new controller gives an improved pump performance and a smoother flow of water dependent on demand which for an ageing pipe system such as ours is very important.  The photo below is of the installation about half way through.

Who'd be an electrician?

Bunkers are always a favourite topic amongst golfers with all sorts of opinions available on what constitutes a good bunker.  Over the course of this year we have been spending considerably more time on bunker maintenance, particularly raking. For quite some years early in my tenure at Cool Tweed we were raking bunkers 6 days a week which was a great strain on manpower and as staff numbers have reduced so has bunker maintenance.  We don't really have any set pattern on when the bunkers get raked as it depends on what type (and how much) of play is scheduled but they are probably done on average 3 times a week.  Not all bunkers get raked every time with "greenside" bunkers taking precedence.  One of the problems with the machines raking bunkers is the access point for the machine as it is normally worn out turf from the tyres and a lot of sand gets bought out of the bunker on the machine and then dropped on the surround as the machine bounces out.  Over the years I have always been on the look out for hand rakes that are suitable for use in bunkers and have finally found some having seen them at one of the clubs I visited in the USA last year.  They give an excellent finished result although not as smooth as the machine.  The main feature of them is that they eliminate the access problem and they also rake through leaves better than the machine can which is an added bonus as a lot of our bunkers are literally leaf collectors.

Sandy machine access area.


Hand rake in action.

I am an avid reader of old golf anecdotes and found this gem last week from 1908 where the smooth state of the bunkers was heavily questioned!!  Quite a few years ago a club in Brisbane started raking their bunkers on a Saturday morning.  When the afternoon field was asked if they noticed it they said no as by the time they got to them they were already destroyed by the earlier players.  Interesting to see Harry Vardon's name mentioned below who was the founder of the almost universal "Vardon grip" in golf.

Bunker was too smooth!!

Friday, September 14, 2018

A less than pleasant start to the week with the sewerage pipe that services the clubhouse springing a leak and requiring some substantial work to repair it.  The rising main runs from the clubhouse virtually straight through the middle of the course and exits into Davey Street.  We have had a few issues with it over the years and most of the time a large tree has been the culprit as it was this week.  I think after the trench was originally dug for it the soft sand made for easy digging for tree planting as there are a number of trees right on top of the pipe.  And this one this week was right on top of it as the photo below shows.  Fortunately our various contractors came to the rescue with trees requiring removal, a large trench dug and the repair completed by a licensed plumber.

The offending pipe in the middle of the rootball.
A close up of the pipe.

During the week we trialed a stump grinder around the courses.  The object is twofold in that we can start grinding up a lot of the exposed roots in the roughs and also trace some of the roots intruding into the fairways.  The process seemed to be a success although it is very labour intensive so it will be an ongoing (read never ending) process.  We also used it as a root pruner in a couple of spots as well which is certainly not what it is designed for but it may be useful in places although we are currently investigating the purchase of a purpose built root pruner similar to the one that has been used here previously.

Root pruned and a root ground out RHS 18R tee.
Two roots intruding into 9W fairway ground out.

A big week of irrigation work next week with the control interface of the irrigation pumps being replaced.  The pump station was installed in 2000 and has barely missed a beat since but the actual unit has long been superceded and the modules for the interface are no longer available so an upgrade is essentially required.  It will mean that there will be no irrigation available for possibly three days which would have been unthinkable at this time of year in the days of Bentgrass greens.  The entire switchboard will also need to be re-wired which is a tedious task for our electricians.  While the system is down we will be doing quite a bit of maintenance work around the courses lifting low and dropping high exposed sprinklers.  There are also a number of stop valves around the courses that have failed and need replacing as well as some routine maintenace on some of the satellite controllers.  All of this type of work can only be performed when the system is de-pressurised.  

Friday, September 7, 2018

Not the greatest way to start the week with an irrigation leak at the rear of 13R green.  Remarkably it was on a pipe that we didn't know existed which has been the case a number of times over the years on the courses.  One of the most famous is a 100mm mainline that runs up 18R fairway that we have tested and found to be live but we have no idea where it goes.  Fortunately this time a backhoe was on site for some other course works and was able to dig the rather deep large hole for us.  What is also remarkable is that the pipe was there throughout construction of the green and survived unscathed.

Not a great start!!

And speaking of greens, this year marks the 20th anniversary of the conversion of the back 9 River greens from Bentgrass to 328.  Wow how time flies!! 

We demonstrated an electric greens mower this week for the first time.  There have been a few hybid mowers mixing a combination of diesel and electrics but this is the first full electric I have tried.  It only got 12 greens done before losing charge and that was on the flat West greens so it would have more of a battle on the sloping River greens.  The quality of cut was quite good but losing charge so quickly is a concern.  Watch this space.

We finished up with nearly 60mm of rain this week and once again the majority was good soaking rain and the courses lapped it up.  A couple of irrigation repair holes were dug this week and it is still very dry under the surface.  We certainly fared better than Byron Bay who copped in excess of 120mm for the week.  It was amazing how coastal the rain was though with very little if any reaching out west where it is desperately needed.  And once again you couldn't knock the weather bureau who had tipped the rain for almost a week.