Friday, February 28, 2020

Well let's hope that's the end of the rain??  It has been unprecedented in volume and regularity with rainfall recorded on 31 out of the first 59 days of the year thus far.

The total for February (with one day to go of course) is 951mm or 38 inches in the old scale.  Not only is it a record for February, but it is the wettest month ever recorded at the Tweed Heads site since 1887.  You need to go back to February 1956 for the previous wettest when 898mm was recorded which just beat February 1954 with 883mm and that just beat February 1953 with 851mm.  1954 and 1956 were also the years of the ''big floods'' on the Tweed. 

Our year to date total is 1233mm (or 1.23 metres) after 282mm was recorded in January which well and truly eclipses the 962mm total for 2019.  There is still water standing in areas I have never seen before and the water table is literally full so the remaining water has virtually nowhere to go so is relying on evaporation to finally clear.

The upside of the rain is the lack of wear and tear on the courses due to low player numbers but the downside is the effect on the turf, particularly the greens, not to mention the Club's finances.  Low light intensity caused by the constant cloud cover affects the plants ability to grow and the constant leaf wetness provides the perfect host for a range of diseases which we have well and truly experienced, particularly in the greens.  Under these conditions 328 has the tendency to get ''puffy'' and the surface open up which is exactly what it is doing at the moment.  The West TifEagle greens are holding on much better and still providing a very true surface.

The rain chart below tells the story of 2020 so far.  But while we are getting all this, spare a thought for those in Western Australia, and particularly a friend of mine at Wembley golf in suburban Perth, who has had just 10mm of rain since the start of December 2019 and that was in a storm earlier this week.
2020's rainfall chart thus far!!

Friday, February 14, 2020

We finished the rain event with 841mm and with a couple of weeks to go for the month we are probably a good chance to break the highest February total which was 897mm in 1956.  There is still a lot of water on both courses but todays sun and wind certainly helped the drying process.

We do have a blocked pipe on 4R and it appears that it is in the middle of 5R fairway.  Time and the water table was against us today to try and work on it so we will wait until it's dry again to look at it.  At the moment we are pumping it out.

As mentioned yesterday there is a massive amount of water coming down the river from upstream where they received some huge falls yesterday afternoon and evening.  The photo below shows the dirty colour of the river which will take some time to clear. 

There are still several fairways with a significant amount of water on them on the River course and others that are sodden.  The call was made early to keep motorised buggies off the River course for the week end and for the West course to remain closed.  As I have mentioned here before it is never an easy task to restrict buggy use but in this situation and with the existing ground conditions I believe it is the right call.

Well it's been a rollercoaster week and a bit that I am glad is behind us.  One blessing for us was that there was no wind so our clean up is not as bad as previous storm cells.  I am on a week and a half leave from today so hopefully the drying process continues and the courses get back to normal.

A dirty Tweed River Friday afternoon.

Even the butcher bird was sick of the rain and was looking for shelter.

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Apologies  for the lack of an update earlier but with the club website down I couldn't access what I need to do the blog.  Unfortunately another 153mm of rain overnight has well and truly put us back to square one.  That takes us to a total of 833mm over the past nine days which is just astonishing to say the least.

There is water in areas I have never seen before and I don’t believe I have ever seen this much water pooled on the courses. The drains are still being monitored constantly and are working as well as they can.  We think there may be another blockage on 4R as the water is not moving there at the moment.  The entry to the drain is at least a metre under the current water level on the fairway and the only way to get to it may be to excavate it out.  This is one of the issues of the dry spell we had with trees looking for water and they can literally break through the slightest crack in a pipe.  Although in the 195mm fall of rain in January all drains were functioning.

The other issue we now have is that it has rained heavily upstream and there is a massive volume of water coming down the river and pushing in on the courses against the incoming tide.  For probably 2 or 3 days there will virtually be no such thing as a low tide as the River will maintain its level which severely restricts our drainage capabilities.

I have looked at trying to hire some big diesel pumps to assist but to no avail as they were all hired out to fight the bushfires and are now still hired out to fight the floods.  Welcome to Australia!!  We have a few small ones on hire that are doing the best they can.

A few photos from today to illustrate just how much water there is out there. 

Back to square one at 13 / 14W.

1W fairway normally never has this amount of water across it.

The photo below is on 12R looking back toward the tee from the fairway.  It shows the depth of the water across there and also across 11R to the left.  You then have the back up on 14R coming across there too.



And just because it's raining and the courses are closed the grass doesn't stop growing.  We have been able to continue mowing greens and tees and a couple of high and dry fairways.  We were also able to dethatch the River greens today and will get the West done tomorrow.  The photo below shows the boys on 18R and the amount of water on the fairway.

18R green.

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Hard to imagine that we would be saying ''when is it going to stop raining'' given the conditions we were experiencing just four weeks ago.  I got to work at 4.45am this morning just as it was starting to spit rain and checked the rain gauge at 4.55am and we had 12mm overnight.  Checked it again at 5.35am and there had been a 29mm downpour.  Suffice to say that we just don't seem to be making much headway and the courses are absolutely saturated.
Rainfall for the last week stands at;
4/2     6 mm
5/2     9 mm
6/2     14 mm
7/2     195 mm
8/2     47 mm
9/2     285 mm
10/2   43 mm
11/2   44 mm
12/2   42 mm
For a total of 685 mm or 27.4 inches in the old scale!!
We have been working on a blocked drain on RHS 6R for the week and finally got it cleared late Tuesday afternoon and that is helping drain a huge area of the River course, particularly 15R.  Unfortunately the only way to clear it was to excavate the existing pipe out as the 2 x blockages were 1.3 metres deep under water and there was no other option to access the pipe.  The area is roped off for now and until we dry out will not be repaired but it is quite deep so players are asked to exercise caution in that area and not enter past the safety fence.

15R fairway had been holding water all week and the photos below show it pre and post the drain being cleared.  The blockage also affected 2 and 12W and 2, 6, 14 and 16R so it was crucial to get it cleared.  We don't know what caused the blockage but it took an excavator to release it and it was at either end of the pipe.

4pm Tuesday afternoon.

7.30 am Wednesday morning even after another 42mm rain.

Oh and we just had another 30mm between 9.30 and 11.00 this morning!!

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Just another 43mm overnight to top us right up.  A lot of the gains made yesterday were lost overnight although some areas have improved.  At this stage and with more rains forecast I can't see motorised buggies getting on the course this week.
Just a couple of photos showing no improvement at 14R and good improvement at 13 / 14W.

14R marginally worse than yesterday.

Improvement at 13W
There is a lot of debris washed around the courses as well and with the heat, humidity and moisture the grass is growing extremely fast and is actually growing up through the debris as the photo below shows.  If it is left any longer it will mean that we won't be able to lift the debris so work is starting today even though it's a bit wet. 
Grass growing up through the debris.
And I had a couple of people ask me what was I doing with a syringe and how big must it have been to empty the rain gauge.  The answer is below and it's called a ''gulp ultra'' and is normally used to suck water out of sprinkler cases when they are in the ground.  I now know that it can suck 20mm out of a rain gauge at a time!!

Not really a syringe but works the same.

Monday, February 10, 2020

Another 42mm of rain until 9am this morning takes us to 595mm since last Tuesday.  That's nearly twenty four inches!!  That much rain on already wet ground and against high tides means a very slow drying process.  The bulk of the water has now left the property and the drains are working to capacity and are under constant surveillance to ensure they are not blocking.  There is some water lying in areas that I have never seen before particularly on 14R.  The photo of the start of 14R fairway below is as far as I have seen the water backed up.  This water actually drains down the left side of 14R across 12 and 11R and finds its way to the culverts at the front of 18W tee and leaves the property on the RHS of 17W.  There is a huge amount of water backed up and it has a long way to travel with minimal fall.  The photos below were taken just on high tide at 11.30 this morning.

Water backed up across start 14R fairway.

RHS 14R green.  I've never seen this much in this area.

Front 14R green.  Again I've never seen it backed up this far.

But the water is moving off.  The path below which runs across 13 and 14W had six inches of water across it 6 hours earlier.
Track across 13 / 14W reappearing.

The photo below shows the river about to break over the levee bank on high tide this morning and as mentioned above high tides like this slow the draining process.  But the water is moving although it is a slow process particularly given the lack of fall that we have across the courses. 

Just about to come over.

Sunday, February 9, 2020

Well that was something different - I needed to use a syringe to empty the rain gauge as it was too heavy to lift!!  282 mm in the past 22 hours and it hasn't really rained for the last four hours.  It takes us to 553mm for February and 835mm for the year thus far which is quite notable considering we got just 962mm total last year.

Quite remarkably the river is at least a metre below the levee bank so the water is moving off the courses very quickly but there is a lot to move so will take some time.  The high tides may be our enemy though.  Obviously upstream didn't get the volume of rain we did which is a blessing for them and us.  Another blessing was that there was no wind so at this stage there are no trees down so clean up won't be as bad as has been in previous storms. 

A few photos from this morning;

15W green.  Note water mark on front of green.



Half way West esky floated over to LHS 14W fairway!



15W and half way West.

Friday, February 7, 2020

I guess this will get filed under ''we were wrong''??  Although to be fair to the BoM the article was referencing drought breaking rains which haven't really occurred across the country.

224 mm for the week with 195 of that in the twenty four hours 'til 9am Friday.  Included in that was 41mm between 9am and 10.30am on Thursday morning when there were 2 groups of vets out playing!!  The courses will take a bit longer to dry out than from the falls a couple of weeks ago as the ground is already very wet.  Couple that with some high tides and high rainfall totals up the river and it makes it difficult to get the water off the courses.  And it doesn't look like it's over yet......

A couple of weeks ago we had a contractor in to grind down some of the raised joins on the concrete paths as a trial which seems to be satisfactory judging by the feedback received.  He will be coming back to do some more over the coming weeks and was actually due to be onsite yesterday but the rain washed him out. .  It is a fairly slow process that obviously has to be done during daylight hours so needs to be programmed to be done when the courses are quiet and when the contractor is available.  He also has to stop grinding when he hits the reinforcing so can't always completely remove the lip.