Friday, December 17, 2021

At Thursday's golf management meeting the topic of bunkers was raised as it just about is every meeting.  Some discussion revolved around the way the bunkers are left after maintenance by staff.  We had happened to rake the West bunkers on Thursday afternoon, starting at 1pm,  so on my way back to the shed I got these photos at around 3.30pm of some of the first ones raked.  It wouldn't matter how good a job we did if players won't pick up the rake to start with.

16W greenside.

17W greenside.

17W greenside.

16W greenside.

18W greenside.
18W fairway.

A lot of manpower is devoted to bunkers with some high end courses actually spending more on bunkers than they do on greens which was also the case here at one time.  This morning six staff members were involved in raking the River course bunkers in front of the competition.  All the bunkers were blown out if needed (majority were done thanks to recent winds) and raked.  Very little other maintenance was done to them and the job was finished just as the first competition group got to 18R.  So eighteen manhours today on the River course alone.

A very good friend of mine is at an exclusive member only club in the USA where there are a crew of eight who go out every day raking bunkers (on 18 holes) and needless to say the bunkers are pristine.  He has a sign in the Pro Shop with a photo of a perfect bunker and the caption ''we can only make them perfect once a day - the rest is up to you''.  And by the end of the day the bunkers are still trashed!

We managed to get another two River course fairways aerated this week but unfortunately the rest will need to wait as we are getting very short on numbers.  Another of my qualified greenkeepers finished up this week to take a job as a mowing operator / general hand for a considerable pay hike.  It's an industry wide problem and many advertisements for qualified greenkeepers don't even get a single application with so many leaving the industry.  

The River greens got a sanding on Tuesday this week and haven't been mown for the rest of the week as we got a product out this morning that is best applied with no mowing prior to application for three days.  If all goes to plan the West greens will get a sanding next week which should finish off the leveling of the surface following the renovation.

Friday, December 10, 2021

Monday this week was one of those days where you ask yourself - ''where do we start?''  The storm that came through on Saturday night was an absolute belter and the winds wreaked havoc with debris strewn across the courses.  Of course some of the clean up work started on Sunday morning with tees and greens cleared of debris although the wind stayed up most of Sunday as well.  But by close of Tuesday you could hardly recognise the place with all playing surfaces cleared and most bunkers done as well.  In cases like this the priority list is greens, tees, fairways and then bunkers.  At least now most of the bark off the Eucalypts has been stripped.  The crew did a great job once again in the clean up.

The radar image of Saturday nights storm.

Some of the debris on 4R.


I have written about the effects of shade on many occasions.  This week we turfed two of the recently cleared areas on 16 and 18R.  On 16R the area is still shade affected when compared to 18R which is just about full sun.  The photos below are of root development of the two areas three days after turfing.  The same batch of turf was used for both areas and they were laid at the same time but the number and length of the roots on 18R is way in front of 16R due to the sunlight.

Lots of healthy white roots at 18R.

Not so many at 16R.

Friday, December 3, 2021

250mm of rain over the past ten days following the West greens renovation and about the only things enjoying it are the seagulls and ducks.  At least we got the renovation done before the really serious rain came in as it would have been a complete disaster.  The rain however has helped settle the West greens down and we were able to get a couple of dry cuts in this week which was good.  They are approaching their normal mowing height and will probably get another sanding to help finish levelling the surface off.

Someones enjoying the courses.

The one thing the rain and heat have done is get the grass growing.  It is nearly out of control in some places, especially the Kikuyu rough areas, and it hasn't been helped by not being able to get the growth regulator out due to the constant rain.  When we mow tees at this time of year and the tees are under growth regulator we would normally empty the grass catchers twice at the most.  Today we emptied eleven times and the tees have been mown four times already this week and that volume is simply due to no growth regulator.

The other annoying thing after the rain is the wind.  It is a very messy time of year with a number of Eucalypts shedding their bark and the wind strong enough to strip leaves off them as well.  A couple of greens have to have the leaves blown off literally while we are mowing.  The greens mowers are finely tuned machines to mow a very slender blade of grass not leaves.

5W green prior to mowing.

The bunkers also suffer in the wind as they are very proficient leaf collectors.  We can't rake them when they are full of leaves so they need to be blown out and now that they are back in play they need to be raked by players.  The old adage of ''leaving the bunker as you would like to find it'' is just so true.  A lot of other clubs are finding it difficult to get their players to use the rake again after playing a shot.  The photo below is of 9W greenside bunker today within two hours of it being raked by staff.

They moved the rake to play their shot!!

And a new addition to the fleet with two new tractors delivered this week.  The two Kubota's replace two ageing Massey Ferguson tractors and will be a welcome addition as the Massey's were terrible to drive and had become quite unsafe.

In with the new.

Friday, November 26, 2021

Well last weeks forecast seemed fairly accurate and certainly had an effect on the West greens renovation as the weather did last month at the River greens renovation.  We got a great start on Sunday afternoon in almost perfect conditions and although there were some light showers on Monday we definitely dodged a very big bullet.  The photo below shows the radar at 10.30 on Monday morning with the arrow indicating the line of travel for the rain which came in from the NE.  Somehow it virtually all went around us and we only had a couple of light showers but the lack of breeze meant the surface stayed wet for a long time.  That meant that a lot of thatch stayed on the surface which is a shame as the removal of thatch is one of the main goals of the renovation.  The other photo below is of the amount of material (thatch) that was removed from 18W green which was the best part of a cubic metre and that was pretty much the same for every green.

Rain all around us.

The pile from 18W green.

Tuesday morning was a very different story with 20mm falling in a 5am deluge that flooded the workshed compound and then another heavy shower came down just after 10am.  The result was a very wet surface and we have experienced a lot of wash on the greens.  The constant showers / rain during the rest of the week hasn't really helped get the surface to where we want it to be either.  As with the River greens we weren't able to get some of the amendments on to them that  I would have liked but the surface has come up ok considering and now we just need the recovery growth to start.

The arrow has the rain coming straight at us.

So all up 90mm of rain for the week which was welcomed by the rest of the property but certainly wasn't welcome for the renovation and unfortunately due to the intensity of the rainfall a lot of it ran off and didn't soak in.  We tried to rub in some of the wash on the greens today and had some moderate success and also got some liquid foliar fertiliser on the greens which would have looked a bit strange to have hoses operating on greens after receiving 42mm of rain overnight.

Friday, November 19, 2021

Had a bit of a break last weekend and stayed four nights in a caravan park for some R & R which was very welcome.  I was BBQing dinner on Saturday night, as you do, and was having a chat with a fellow camper and he asked me what I did for a job.  After telling him he said ''oh you just mow the lawns'' to which I didn't bother replying as I had heard that many times before.  Then I reflected on it this week and just saw how much other ''stuff'' we do in a week, a lot of which is often unseen by players.

This week we have been having some serious issues with the transfer pumps at the treatment plant, so much so that probably sixty man hours have been spent over the week trying to rectify the situation by dis-mantling and re-connecting.  We also spent around thirty six man hours getting the renovation machinery ready for the West greens works next week.  Forty eight man hours were devoted to getting the collars on the West course greens scarified on Thursday, to save those hours next week.  (And thanks to the Vets for putting up with the disruption to their comp.)  Sixty man hours were used up edging, blowing and raking the River course bunkers on Monday and Tuesday.  Around seventy two man hours were spent aerating 2, 9, 11 and 15 River fairways over four days.  Recent soil tests showed up a deficiency in the West greens so a trip to the border at Bay Street to meet the delivery driver to pick up some fertiliser off him took up some time.  Oh and then we did some mowing in amongst several spray applications, edging the West greens, filling the sand bins, some general whipper snipping, a couple of small irrigation repairs, some hand watering on greens and hearing from a staff member that he has a torn Meniscus.  Just a normal week really!!

As mentioned above we started aerating the River course fairways and if they respond half as well as the West fairways, which they will, they will be looking great very quickly.  Unfortunately the lack of water for irrigation due to our transfer problems has set them back a little but now there is rain forecast for next week so they will lap that up.  The results from the aeration is well worth the man hour investment.

11 R fairway aerated.


And as also mentioned above the West course greens renovation is planned to start on Sunday afternoon and continue through Monday and Tuesday.  And as has been the case several times over the years the weather forecast doesn't look good.  The greens were renovated in January this year after being moved due to a tournament last November and we nearly got washed out then so it's nothing new.  Some sort of renovation will take place due to the course being closed but it will be a decision made literally as we start the machines up dependent on the weather outlook.

Not the greatest forecast for Monday.


One of the great things about being first out on the courses in the morning is some of the sites of Mother Nature that you get to see.  This week was no exception with some magnificent red sunrises and a spectacular moon set.

Not that good a photo but it was only 5am moonlight.

Red sky in the morning.......?


And finally we don't get many compliments but a long term member had this to say this week - ''fairways and greens on both courses as good as I can remember and a pleasure to view and play''.  Makes all the hours worth it.....Thanks.






Friday, November 5, 2021

Low staff numbers this week thanks to the double vaccination / work rule meant pretty much just the basics got done.  One of the main issues with virtually all golf greens is encroachment of foreign grasses, particularly from the immediate collar grass.  The West greens are now edged on a very regular basis and that helps cut off any encroaching stolons which are ''runners'' that come in on the surface and then take root.  Encroaching rhizomes are the more difficult to control as they encroach under the surface then shoot new leaves.  A couple of very good examples below of rhizomes that have got into the green despite the 25mm deep edging that is carried out.


Encroachment into the TifEagle is generally less of a problem due to the tightness of the canopy when compared to 328 but stopping aggressive rhizomes like this is near impossible.

Friday, October 29, 2021

A very busy week on the courses with just about a full crew and lower player numbers allowing a lot of work to be achieved. We were able to get the collars on the River course scarified and also got the first mowing on the River greens following renovation.  As I have said before it is very important to get the first mowing done whilst dry which we were able to do on Tuesday afternoon and then followed up on Thursday with another dry cut which was indeed a bonus. Sand and reel mowers really don’t go together so it is very hard to maintain a quality of cut and that’s why the greens are quite stripy in appearance.  We were also able to get the West greens de-thatched in the dry on Tuesday as well which is also a bonus.

The new roughcutters are certainly getting a workout following a surge in growth with the ground moisture and heat and humidity we have been getting.  We normally use mulching blades on them which help literally ‘’smash up’’ the leaves but unfortunately they are not currently available as are so many things that are affected by freight delays so there are still heaps of leaves left on the ground.  We do have a sweeper that we could use but that would fill within minutes and require constant emptying which makes it totally unproductive and then we have the issue of disposing of the stockpiled leaves.

I said last week that irrigation problems come in threes but unfortunately that was just last week and another three appeared this week with a major repair required on 10W fairway and luckily we only needed a relatively small hole to access the pipe. All three repairs this week required the system to be drained of water and therefore we need to fire it up again and re-pressurise the lines which takes quite some time and that is why you quite often see hoses around the course just running into rough areas. 

A fair bit of weed control has also been conducted particularly on the West green surrounds and it is obviously noticeable by the associated leaf burn that will recover in ten days or so.  We are also having some interesting results so far with a new product that has been trialled on River fairways 6, 8, 11 and 13 for the control of Blue Couch and Kikuyu.  Both are quite difficult weeds to entirely eradicate whilst not damaging the preferred turf and playing surface.  A bit of a watch this space situation.

And an end of an era in the clubhouse garden with the retirement of our clubhouse gardener Eric. He has been with us since 2005 and has pretty much made the garden his own in that time. Similar to Len Korn, I don’t remember Eric ever ringing in sick in his time with us and he has been a valued employee throughout. So if you get the chance to see Eric in the garden next week please take the time to thank him for his work and wish him well in retirement.


Friday, October 22, 2021

Irrigation seems to be the hot topic for us on the courses at the moment. Last week in the rain we took the opportunity to replace a section of the pump station manifold and some valves. On trying to fire back up the system we found that the foot valve on the pumps was seemingly faulty. We had to get a Franna crane in who pulled it out and we duly confirmed our thoughts. Fortunately a company in Brisbane keeps stock and a mercy dash up there late Friday secured a replacement. The Franna was back in on Saturday morning and the new foot valve installed. Kudos to our two irrigation guys who did the job for us, our own staff members Simon and Dave.

The Franna in action pulling out the old foot valve.

New foot valve ready to go.

Then this Thursday a blowout on the right hand side of 17R and as seemingly always happens, irrigation problems come in threes and all of a sudden we had an issue at 17W dam and 5R fairway. Two days work which ties up nearly four men taking them away from other duties.

The other big topic this week was the River course greens renovations and we had some good rain and some bad rain during the week. The good rain came in the storm just as the boys finished on Monday afternoon which washed everything in quite nicely and the bad rain was the storm that hit about 12.30pm on Monday that dampened everything making the result very messy.  The photo of the radar below is just as we finished with the arrow indicating exactly where the courses are. Unfortunately it went for a bit too long and produced a little bit too much heavy rain and caused quite a bit of wash which needed to be attended to on Tuesday. Some more light showers during the week and some good rain was certainly welcome and helped until a downpour on Thursday around lunchtime when we got 9mm in five minutes. Once again we had significant wash which then had to be scraped off the greens on Friday in front of the members comp. Not the perfect result that we were looking for as we couldn’t get any granular fertiliser or amendments spread on the greens so they will have to wait. We were also unable to get the greens collars scarified over the last couple of weeks with the rain so hopefully will next week.  Our new trailers got a good workout with the sanding of the River greens and performed extremely well as did all of the staff in what is not the most enjoyable task. We don’t do it for fun or to annoy you I can assure you.

The radar just as we finished on Monday with the storm haeding straight for us.

New trailers made a difference.

Some of the wash debris on the greens Friday morning.


I mentioned last week about the downpour that we got on Friday morning and one of the Dads Army regulars John Clark who lives in Pinehurst snapped this great photo of the courses just after the rain finished.

West Lakes!!

And speaking of rain, the 196mm we have received thus far in October has us at 1963mm year to date, just shy of 2 metres.  1664mm is our average yearly rainfall total with the highest recorded being 3192mm in 1906 and that total is way in front of the second wettest which was 1999 with 2874mm.  Let's hope we don't challenge either of those figures this year.