Friday, January 25, 2019

The dry continues and there seems no end in the near future according to forecasts.  With no more rain in January we will have the driest January since records began way back in 1886.  At this stage we have had 8.6mm of rain since January 1 which is pretty much half of the 16.4mm that was recorded in January 1966.  With December 2018 delivering just 92mm it will be the sixth lowest December / January combined total as well.  And it will be only the sixth time that less than 40mm of rain has been recorded in January. So that's one of the reasons we are currently parched.

As I mentioned last week the irrigation system is operating at full capacity given our current supply volume and ability to pump out on to the courses.  1.2ML is pumped down each 24 hour period from the Banora Plant and that same quantity is pumped out on the courses each night.  Add to that the evaporation from the irrigation dam and we are gradually dropping behind.  We are not alone in the dry conditions with several other clubs reporting the same issues.  And speaking of other clubs, 2 other 36 hole courses in southern Qld pump out 3.5ML a night on to their courses.  Alas even if we could be supplied with that volume, our current system wouldn't be able to deliver that quantity to the courses.  The fact that we are largely a sand based course doesn't help either although that's certainly a positive for us in times of rain.  

A tree contractor will be working in the area between the Pro Shop and practice nets next Thursday and Friday.  We will be trimming some of the huge Fig limbs in the area so please take care and follow all signage and directions. 

Friday, January 18, 2019

Well the dry continues and the courses are really starting to show the effects.  We did get this dry last year so it's not something new, but with no rain in the forecast it doesn't look good.  At least last January we had 50mm of rain in the first week and then nothing until February / March delivered 520mm or 21 inches in old talk.  Hopefully some rain will come sooner than later.  The photo below shows 18R fairway on January 24 last year compared to today below it.  The drain line showing is a key sign of just how dry it is.

18R January 2018.

18R January 2019.

The irrigation system is struggling to keep up and is operating at full capacity on a nightly basis.  One of the big issues we have is the varied soil conditions with many virtually water repellent sands in many areas of the courses.  The photo below shows an area adjacent to a sprinkler on 1W fairway that you would swear isn't working.  But rest assured it is as are all the sprays in similar situations.  What makes it even more interesting is that the fairway sprinklers are 2 speed and the area to the side of the fairways where most of the dryness is occurring is where the sprinkler turns slowest.  However with no overlap from other sprinklers there is just not enough water that can be put out in the current weather conditions and with our pumping capabilities.

There are products known as wetting agents that we use on the greens to assist in maintaining some moisture content in the soil profile but we just don't have enough water to help them stay activated for long enough on fairways and hence have stopped using them.  Not to mention their cost and the logistics of spraying them out in amongst all our other spray programs and the trials we have done on the fairways to date have been largely inconclusive.

The sprinkler is working!!

Friday, January 11, 2019

Well the week flew by with a bit of everything thrown in which is one of the reasons it is such an interesting and varied job.  You have to be prepared to fly by the seat of your pants as they say with something different appearing around every corner.
Sunday, Monday and Tuesday afforded the opportunity to get some growth regulator out on the fairways which is only three weeks since the last application compared to the normal four weeks that we get such is the growth patterns at the moment.  Most of the courses are under control at the moment although we are drying very quickly and in desperate need of some good rainfall.  It has been a great summer holiday season thus far weatherwise but a couple of days soft rainfall would be most welcome!!
About 7.15pm Wednesday evening I get a call from the club that "there is a busted pipe on 1 West and there's water everywhere".  Keep in mind that about two weeks ago I got a call with the same line and upon coming in found nothing.  I also once received a call that there is water going everywhere at 7 River tee and upon inspection found that the bubbler was stuck on.  Anyway so I came in on Wednesday to find a 6 inch mainline had given way and indeed there was water everywhere.  The system had to be shutdown and the repair effected the next morning.  It did mean however that we lost a nights watering which if it had happened with Bentgrass greens could have been disastrous.
The sinkhole from the pipe blowout on 1W.
Repairing a 6 inch mainline wasn't really the start to Thursday that we wanted as we had booked a mobile crane to assist us install a new support structure on the jetty at the water treatment plant that holds our pumps as the existing was badly rusting away and in danger of breaking away.  So we made it to the plant in time and what at first looked to be a very difficult job fortunately became quite easy although it has caused some sleepless nights worrying about how we were going to do it.  But the job was a success and we only lost six hours pumping time. 
The Franna onsite supporting the pier.

Out with the old support beam.

In with the new support.

 Then on Thursday at about 6pm I get a call that there is a fire that can be seen from 9 West green.  I had only just left which made me a bit suspicious as that's where I drive past as I leave the course.  But sure enough i could see the smoke from over near Bunnings and got back to let the fire brigade in to put out the small grass fire on the fenceline at LHS 5 River.  A timely reminder to extinguish cigarette butts I would suggest in this dry period.
Fire LHS 5R.
So that was just some of what happened in the week just gone.  Hopefully next week brings the much needed rainfall although the forecast doesn't look good.  

Friday, January 4, 2019

A rather unexpected 8mm of rain on Thursday morning was quite welcome with the courses once again drying out and the irrigation struggling to keep up.  We pump around 1.2 megalitres of water down to our storage dam every 24 hours and that is what we then put out on the courses at full irrigation which is where we are now.  At least it hasn't been windy of late which allows the sprinklers to operate to the maximum capacity.  With over 32 hectares of fairways it is a big area to get covered compared with most courses averaging about 11 - 13 hectares per 18 holes.

Speaking of rainfall we recorded just 1317mm in 2018 which is well down on our average of over 1700mm and actually makes 2018 one of 20 or so driest years since recordings were started for this location in 1886.  We record the rainfall for the weather bureau and are officially station number 058056 and known as Tweed Heads.  As a matter of interest the driest year was 688mm way back in 1902 and the wettest was in 1906 with 3193mm.  In more recent times my first year here in 1999 came in at 2,874mm and the recent lowest was 2007 with 1,293mm.

Repair on 2R

And not the most enjoyable New Years Eve for us with two fairly substantial irrigation repairs required with one being right in the drive zone on 2R fairway and the other right in front of 8R tee.  Unfortunately with what is known as a single row irrigation system almost all our sprinklers and pipe are located in the middle of fairways and have to be repaired ASAP.  Another great job by the irrigation techs had the system humming again that night.

We started some tree root removal this week and will be trying to get as much done as possible in the coming months to try and get recovery on the areas prior to winter.  It will be a long slow project that will probably be like a lot of jobs we do which means it will be done "forever"!!

Root removal on 16R tee