Friday, December 27, 2019

20mm of rain in the gauge on Christmas morning was a very welcome Christmas present and the follow up showers have been a bonus and don't seem to have affected play too much.  The grass has already started to jump and as always the short working weeks and volume of play at this time of year make it tough to keep up with all the work that needs to get done.  I have noticed it before prior to rainfall and will keep an eye out in future but on Christmas eve morning a flock of seagulls was gathered on the dam at 4 / 9 West preening themselves and then spent most of the day there and sure enough in came the rain.  They were also there again this morning so with no rain in the forecast it will be interesting to watch.  It's always hard to tell with so many people having their own signs of rain to come.  A couple of other local ones I have heard of are the arrival of the black cockatoos who were actually very active this morning and the swallows flying about low to the ground feeding which I have seen a few times myself but no rain had followed.  Let's just hope we get enough rain across the country to break this dryspell.

The seagulls are in?

With no more significant rainfall, 2019 will figure in the four driest years on record for Tweed Heads with 961mm so far this year.  There have only been three years when less than 1000mm has been recorded and that was in 1902 - 689mm, 1915 - 858mm and 1986 with 962mm.  The average yearly rainfall for Tweed Heads since 1888 is 1665mm so yes it's been a dry one. 

Friday, December 20, 2019

Well the rain last week didn't last long but it certainly had a good effect with the courses greening up considerably over the past days.  We are now back into a dry spell and with our predominantly sand base it is amazing just how fast it dries out.  The West greens are a bit slower to recover than they were last year and that is due to the high sodium levels in the growing profile and also in the irrigation water.  Last year we had some very good rain following the renovation in December which helped "flush" the greens and last weeks falls weren't enough to achieve the same effect.  Hopefully we don't endure another dry summer like last year.
A quiet day on the courses on Thursday and then the West course being closed after the Vets shotgun allowed us to get all the fairways sprayed with growth regulator which is an essential application at this time of year for obvious reasons.  That is normally a task that takes three to four mornings over a week to complete around play so the closure was once again very beneficial.  Apart from slowing the growth down the growth regulator can also help root growth.  A few years ago I was doing a trial on the nursery green with the growth regulator and couldn't really see much difference on the surface.  However when I took  a couple of plugs to look at the roots it was an amazing difference as seen in the photo below.  The other photo below shows an area that was missed during the application on 14W fairway one time and the difference is distinct.

Growth regulator applied to top plug.

A miss on 14W fairway.

The winds this week have finally just about stripped all the bark off the Gum trees so the roughs will look a little tidier from now on.  This is an annual event for the trees and the wind just helps speed up the process.

Bark be gone...

And with the Aus PGA on this week who could forget the presence of Jeff the Dinosaur at the 2012 version of the tournament at Coolum!!!

Jeff the dinosaur!!!

Friday, December 13, 2019

Apologies to the players who started out today but wasn't that rain magnificent.  A bit more than 30mm and not too much run off except for a very heavy shower in the middle of the day.  It was certainly very welcome and hopefully is the start of more to come.
A very welcome sight in the compound today!!

The West renovations went well and a lot of material was removed.   This material is what is known as thatch which is defined as a layer of living and dead stems, roots and other organic matter that is between the soil surface and the leaf blades.  At renovation time we can go deeper and remove way more thatch than we can with our regular de-thatching program.  The photo below shows the surface after we have finished the de-thatching process and prior to aeration which was done with just a solid tine this year.  As I have said before it's not something we particularly enjoy doing, especially in the heat we had on Monday and Tuesday but it is so vital for the health of the turf.

Lots of material removed.

And hats off to the crew at Royal Melbourne ably led by Richard Forsyth on the presentation of the course for the Presidents Cup.  It's a bit sad to see what the massive galleries do to the incredibly valuable native roughs which will take years to recover but the course is a delight to watch golf on.  45 volunteers from around the world have joined the normal crew of 45 to present the courses to this level with many saying it is some of the best turfgrass they have ever seen.  Interesting to note that in 1988 I was across the road at Victoria GC and went over to help out the preps for the Bicentennial Classic at RM, which at the time was the biggest tournament ever held in Australia.  My presence lifted the crew number to fifteen for the week!!  At that stage the club only owned one fairway mower that after mowing as much of the tournament course as it could in the morning would then head out on the other "paddocks" as they call them and keep on mowing!!
The crew!!

Friday, December 6, 2019

And just for a change there were only light breezes accompanying the high temperatures of the past few days which was a bit different from the howling winds we have been having.  It was also nice late this week to actually get the main playing surfaces pretty much free of tree debris which makes such a difference to the aesthetics and playability of the courses.

11W fairway covered in debris has been a constant.
 I had an eagle eyed member who trawled through the weather records for Tweed Heads, particularly the rainfall or lack thereof.  He found that the winter / spring period of June thru November 2019 was the second driest on record with just 220mm.  The driest was exactly 100 years ago in 1919 when just 209mm was recorded!!

A productive week just gone with the tees and collars on the West course being scarified which helps reduce the workload next week as we move on to the greens.  The greens will be heavily scarified and de-thatched and then only 7mm solid tines will be used instead of hollow tines.  The soil tests from the West greens were taken before last week ends rain and came back with similar sodium levels as the River greens.  The rain certainly helped the River greens which are now back down to normal mowing height and not rolling too badly considering it is just two weeks since their renovation.