Friday, January 31, 2020

Well the grass is growing as hard as I have seen it for a few years and couple the growth with a short working week and it was a great effort the crew to just about get everything mown by weeks end.  The last two years have been very dry and the two before that was the greens construction phase and I don't recall seeing this strength of grass growth over those years.

One of the unseen aspects of what we do to prepare the courses is what takes place in the machinery shed.  We have a full time mechanic who services and repairs our machinery fleet and he is sometimes assisted by other staff.  This was the case this week with the bedknives (bottom blades) on one of the fairway mowers needing to be replaced.  When we do this we also take the opportunity to grind the reels while the units are off.  Three of our staff have been trained in the use of the large grinder that we use for the purpose and two of them work on the mowers five units for a total of twenty hours.  The units weigh about 70kg each and are quite cumbersome to move around the shed and remove and fit back on the machine.  We got the machine back out on the course on Friday and the resultant surface was first class and another mower is scheduled to be done next week.  We often try to program this work for a rainy day but they have been few and far between over recent history although next week looks likely?

New bedknife fitted.

Friday, January 24, 2020

It's hard to believe it's the same golf course that I toured last Saturday afternoon after the rain had stopped when you look at it today.  A great effort by the crew to restore the course with the amount of wash that was around coupled with the bunkers almost requiring to be rebuilt.  Not to mention the amount of mowing needed now that the grass has well and truly jumped.  You literally can almost watch it grow.  We also had a metre deep 150mm irrigation repair to cope with on 4W fairway that occupied a lot of time as well.  It was one of those weeks when you wonder how all the required work will get done then sit back on Friday afternoon and thank the crew for their efforts over the week.

150mm irrigation repair on 4W.
The roughs are really starting to move especially the Kikuyu areas.  We mow roughs with outfront rotary mowers that are fitted with "mulching blades'' which as the name suggests mulch up leaves and sticks to leave a tidier appearance in the roughs, which given our tree population is rather important.  They don't mow as well as a traditional blade but are of great benefit for us with the finished result.  The top photo shows a brand new mulching blade on top and a worn one underneath and the next photo shows a ''normal'' blade.
Mulching blade.
Normal mower blade.
The fairways were treated with a growth regulator last week which was nicely timed given the arrival of the rain, heat and humidity.  Unfortunately one of the motors that operate the nozzles burnt out during application which meant that the product ran in a line rather than being broadcast out causing a burn.  The sprayer is a shrouded one which means the nozzles are encased which is great for spraying in the wind but not so good for seeing if they are all operating.  It is always tested before and also during spraying.  The photo below is of 6R fairway where the line from the faulty nozzle is clearly visible as indicated by the bottom arrow.  What is also visible next to the upper arrow is the amount of growth in that line where there was no growth regulator applied and the turf is scalped.  
6R fairway.
The photo below is of 13W fairway which missed being sprayed last week due to time constraints and the amount of clipping that was left after mowing which once again demonstrates how good the growth regulator is.  Years ago this was a common sight on fairways.

13W fairway.

Saturday, January 18, 2020

It's pretty amazing to be saying that we only got 195mm of rain overnight!!  Lots of falls over 300mm around SE Queensland and hopefully not too much damage is caused.  We had 118mm @ 6.30am then a further 77mm till 9am when the gauge is officially read for the weather bureau.  A lot of what we have had will unfortunately run off due to the intensity of the rainfall but it will do the courses the world of good.  A few shots from around the courses about 8.30am this morning below.  Oh and note to self - the seagulls arrive after the rain!!

Corner of 12R.

18R green.

12W looking back to the tee.

15R from the tee.

1R fairway from 10R green.

Seagulls are in on 4W!!

Friday, January 17, 2020

We only got 10mm of rain on Tuesday night but the big benefit was that it all soaked in with none lost to run off and what a difference it has made.  It's probably not quite enough to get the fairways moving again but it had a pronounced effect on the West greens with a surge of growth since the rain.  The recent rainfall predictions have been a little off which is pretty unusual for the main site that I follow which is Willyweather.  They base their predictions on the weather bureau but then tailor them as they read it and they have been off the mark recently.  They have tomorrow at a 90% chance of 40 - 80mm so here's hoping they get it right - and the rain falls out of golf time!!  Some of the falls over the last couple of days have been sporadic with rain coming down from the north.  Yesterday Caboolture GC got 20mm and Nudgee Gc missed out completely while downtown Brisbane got 26mm.  Here's hoping for some at Coolangatta Tweed.

And a good story out of the horror of the bushfires.  A good friend of mine is at Bermagui GC and the town was evacuated and all power turned off which meant his greens had no water for eight nights.  He snuck past a road block to get back to the course and was amazed to find the greens fully covered and a verdant green.  The carbon component of the ash that blanketed the ground had releaased into the profile and the greens had responded accordingly.  No traffic for the duration also helped but as he commented that is no money coming in at the busiest time of the year.

Friday, January 10, 2020

Quite a promising forecast for rain over the approaching week end and here's hoping that it comes true.  I hope I haven't cursed the rain by cleaning the drainage pits around the courses this week and clearing debris from them.  Let's hope not?

Ready and waiting for some rain?

Obviously the dry continues and there is a rock that has been in the dam at 15W since the rockwall was built there in 2001.  That dam is directly related to the water table and the top of the rock has only been visible once before.  It is now just about to break the surface.

Just about visible.

The West greens have continued their recovery this week with a good sanding applied.  The sand is the same that we use at renovation and is what the greens were constructed from so as to prevent any layering from occurring.  A couple of spoon feed fertiliser applications were also applied and have had a good response despite the difficult soil conditions.  I took some more soil tests this week and the condition of the soil has deteriorated even further since late November which is understandable given the lack of rainfall.  

A herbicide was applied to green surrounds on both courses this week and it causes a temporary burn on the leaf which should grow out within a week.  Two applications are necessary so if the weather behaves the second application will happen next week.

Friday, January 3, 2020

Probably the busiest Christmas / New Year period we have had for quite a few years on the courses with huge numbers of players out there.  Unfortunately with it comes some less than desirable course etiquette with the bunker boys saying that "they didn't just walk up the faces - they stomped up them"!  It is always hard for us to strike the balance between maintenance and play especially with the early groups playing very quickly.  As a general rule we like to stay in front of the play especially for things like mowing greens and hole changing which are all done on a daily basis.  That isn't always possible with 6am starts and time restrictions on machinery operation.  After the initial set up we then need to go back and work in amongst play to get the job done which often causes angst for players.  Please bear with the crew as they go about their business while you play.

Given the fact that the seagulls have virtually taken up residence on 4 / 9 West dam certainly disproved my thought that it meant rain was on the way!!  And yes we did finish 2019 as the third driest year on record for Tweed Heads.

The West greens are very slow to recover from renovation which is the same as last year.  The greens were solid tine aerated against hollow tine when a core is removed to lessen the surface damage but they have still been set back.  They have also had an outbreak of insects and the high salt levels in the soil and water don't make it easy for them to recover.  It's a bit like human beings, when you are feeling a little down physically just a minor ailment is made worse.  I am very cautious in the amount I feed the greens as they can easily be overfed which can cause excessive thatch build up which only causes significant other problems.  

Rainfall and plenty of it is our friend which is true across the country at the moment.