Friday, May 31, 2019

Another very quiet week on the courses with just routine maintenance carried out.  We are still very short of staff at the moment with just nine on the courses this week.  I went up to visit a fellow Super at his 36 hole course on Wednesday afternoon and he had 3 staff on annual leave but still had 24 on course!!  Oh I wish!!  Our crew certainly do a great job considering the small numbers and the amount of play they encounter as they go about their business.

It's a very busy golfing schedule coming up in June so our efforts will continue to present the courses as well as possible given our numbers and the lessening growth around the courses.  Single digit temperatures in the mornings really get the soil temperatures down and the growth really slows up as a result.  The greens on both courses received their second planned application this week to combat the range of diseases that can affect them throughout the winter. 

And from the history books comes a shot of 12W tee.  Not sure when it was taken but it must be in the 80's some time as the tee was very narrow and to the left of this one when I arrived.  It's amazing how much the trees have grown, particularly the Gums on the right side rough in the now photo from behind the hedge.

12W tee then.

12W tee now.

Friday, May 24, 2019

A fairly quiet week here at Cool Tweed with staff numbers still down on our normal roster.  The grass is still just moving along although divot recovery is getting slower which makes the use of sand all the more important when repairing your divots.
It is still quite moist on the courses with some annoying showers this week just keeping it that way.  Luckily we are a fairly good draining course as further up the coast a couple of courses are "carts on paths only" and some of their wet areas may be that way for some time to come.
A couple of irrigation issues again this week that required the system to be drained to allow for repairs.  It quite often does happen as the soil is so saturated and cooling down that you can get some pipe movement which will cause the leaks.
The PGA Championship has been run and won in fairly commanding fashion by Brooks Koepka but it was in the background that I was interested in.  Bethpage is a huge State Park as they call them and contains five golf courses amongst a range of other available activities.  Whilst the PGA took centre stage life still goes on elsewhere on the property.  There has been a big surge of interest in promoting bee hives on golf courses throughout the USA to promote the pollinators and Bethpage is no exception.  The photo below shows their hives just down from tee number 5 on the Black course.  So while Brooks was out there decimating the field the bee hives literally kept humming along!
5 tee just behind the trees!!

Thursday, May 16, 2019

A bit of a shock to the system last Sunday with the temperatures plummeting in the morning down to 15 degrees at 5.30am accompanied by a very cold breeze.  A quick check of last years records show that on the corresponding day it was only 10 degrees!!  A much nicer and warmer finish to the week but some pesky showers floating about but at least they were overnight in general.

We took advantage of todays good weather to get what will probably be the final sanding on to the West greens for this growing season.  This helps dilute the thatch layer somewhat and levels up the putting surface.  As usual the sand also contains some humate and gypsum which will only help the greens as well.

Sanding 16W green.

The root pruner still hasn't made it out on to the courses yet with staff numbers a little low at the moment.  It is normal for at least 2 of the crew to be on annual leave at this time of year and that is the case at present.  What I didn't count on was one of the crew members tearing his achilles playing tennis last week end and one of the other boys first born child arriving 6 weeks early on Mothers Day.  So that makes us four down and the casuals have all been finished up and gone elsewhere.  It was a fairly empty lunch room on Thursday with the two apprentices at trade school meaning there was only eight bodies in there!!

And a little bit of trivia to finish off with the USPGA championship about to start.  The last time the PGA was held in May was in 1949 and the winner was Sam Snead who also won the Masters in the April of that year!!  Tiger?  Unfortunately it has been very wet at Bethpage this week and the 100 volunteers assisting had to be sent home on both Monday and Tuesday afternoons.  It is apparently drying out so hopefully there will be some good golf played.

Friday, May 10, 2019

Just about the perfect week weather wise and great for both playing golf and preparing the courses for play.  The relatively calm conditions allows us the opportunity to get the blowers out and really clean the playing surfaces up, particularly the fairways.  The warmer days have still got the grass just ticking along which is a bonus and just about everything we need to do in readiness for winter has been done.

Winter is the most difficult time for the greens on both courses with the lower growth potential evident but then compounded by the amount of play we receive.  This amount of play puts the greens under a lot of stress and there is nothing that can really be done to grow the grass as the soil temperatures start reducing.  Soil temperature and light intensity are two of the many key factors for successfully growing greens quality turf in winter.  All of the disease and insect control and nutrition has already been done so the greens are in good shape heading in to winter.

Unfortunately winter means lower staff numbers and we have farewelled our summer casuals.  One of our casuals has landed a job on the irrigation installation team at Burleigh GC and another has headed to Europe to work on the super yachts over there during their summer.  We have a couple of part timers who stay on so the crew drops down to thirteen (including the clubhouse gardener) for the winter which is pretty lean for a 36 hole course.  Prior to my arrival the staff numbers were eighteen permanents plus four casuals through summer and on my first day there were nineteen staff available for work and due to the contractors that were employed at the time, the club didn't own any fairway or rough mowers!!  Just gives an indication of how well and hard the current staff work to prepare the courses for play.

And from the past comes a photo of pre concrete buggy paths.  Although not a fan of too much concrete on a golf course it is indeed a necessary evil on a course that is as busy as Coolangatta Tweed.  The installation of the concrete paths certainly tidied the green and tee surrounds up quite considerably. 

16R tee prior to concrete in 2002.

16R tee after.

Friday, May 3, 2019

Quite an exciting week just gone with the delivery of a new tractor / front end loader.  Our old tractor was good but this is a more versatile unit that will be put to use with a number of implements.  One of those implememnts was delivered with the tractor and that is a root pruner.  The machine is actually an aerator but its action allows it to serve as a root pruner as well.  I have hired one before that had two blades and this has been on the blog before but this new unit can have up to six blades which means more cuts through the roots resulting in a better result.  It can cut to about 250mm deep which means that we may encounter some of the hydraulic tubes that feed our irrigation system as a lot of these are very shallow.  The tractor also has a low centre of gravity which assists greatly in safe operation which is paramount with a tractor.  It is planned to cut down the side of every fairway and around all greens and tees over the coming winter.  A trial was carried out down the left side of 4R this week with just four blades operating and surface disruption is minimal.

Surface 2 days after being root pruned with 4 blades.

There is a little discoloration in some of the fairways that has been caused by a herbicide application.  We normally apply a pre-emergent product to the fairways that stops the weeds from germinating but one of the problems with this is that the weeds can become resistant to the product.  So this year we have opted to apply another product that controls the weeds after they have germinated.

Slight discoloration on 9W fway.

And as seen on the main club website and on the various noticeboards, the match committee have decided that rakes will be put back in to bunkers starting Saturday May 4.  This does conform with the R & A and also Golf Australia's recommendation that for general member play rakes should be placed in the bunker.  It is still important that the rake is placed on the flat surface of the bunker in direction of play.

Rake placement from Saturday May 4..