Friday, June 18, 2021

A short week and a busy one on the courses with lots of play and beautiful weather.  The Senior Matchplay event went off well and for a change they had nearly perfect weather although the unexpected thunderstorm on Tuesday had them off the courses temporarily.  It was great to hear a lot of positive feedback from the players and the West course looked and played great and was a credit to the hard work of the crew.

We were able to get a different product out this week in an attempt to control the resistant Poa annua. The Tif practice green surround and River greens 3, 7 and 10 were sprayed as well as a few other areas.  Fingers crossed we get a result from this.

Monday next week will see Cool Tweed host the Australian Superintendents golf championship which is played on day one of the 2021 Australian Sportsturf Management Conference which is on the Gold Coast from Tuesday.  Covid restrictions have had a small impact on numbers but the golf field has stayed steady at around ninety players and there are thirty players on handicaps of 5 or less.  Unfortunately Covid restrictions have also robbed us of some Supers who are in their respective State golf teams but it is still a very high quality field.  The winner of the event receives a red jacket (Toro sponsor the event) so you may see a few of the previous winners parading about in their red jackets from the year they won which is part of the tradition.  The winner also gets to play in the American Superintendents golf championship which is obviously going to be on hold until international borders open up again.

And I thought prepping the courses for an elite golf event was a bit stressful but having ninety of your peers looking over your work is pretty nerve wracking I have to say.  The club featured on the front cover of the Conference edition of Australian Turfgrass Management.


 

Friday, June 11, 2021

It almost felt icy this week with a very cold breeze blowing but having spent last weekend at Black Mountain near Glen Innes where it snowed yesterday, this week has been quite balmy by comparison!  All the turf on both courses except the tees are handling winter thus far very well.  The tees are struggling with the sheer volume of play and winter has a long way to play out.  The entrances and exits to buggy paths are also struggling with the huge amount of buggy traffic.  A relatively calm Friday gave us the opportunity to get the main playing syurfaces blown  and the courses are looking in great condition and a credit to the crew.

The resistant Poa annua I have previously mentioned appears to be resistant to the latest product tried so another will be trialled next week.  It is pretty frustrating but at least we don't have the resistance issues that the southern States have been experiencing so that's a positive at the moment.  What would be frustrating though, would be your course flooding literally the day you come out of lockdown in Melbourne due to the stormy weather they have been having this week.  A number of courses on the Yarra River in particular were affected.

I got the photo below early this morning and was thinking about what a great site the courses occupy.


Beautiful outlook across the River to sunrise.
 

And then this is how the day finished up a couple of hours later...a four inch irrigation mainline repair.

Thank heavens for Gus and his mini digger!

 

Friday, June 4, 2021

Not very much to report this week with the Ladies championships taking most of our attention on Tuesday and Thursday.  Pretty much all efforts were put towards preps for those two days and the courses came up really well.

All the fairways and greens got some liquid fertiliser this week and selected tees were also done.  The par 3 tees are really starting to struggle with virtually no recovery and they are looking really chopped up.  We have topdressed a couple of them and will start filling divots as well for the rest of winter.

One of the fairway sprinklers on 18R wasn't functioning properly and when the lid was removed the boys could smell something fishy.  After removing the sprinkler the cause of the blockage was found with an eel jammed in the base of the sprinkler.  Not the most pleasant smell I can assure you!! 

 


 

Friday, May 28, 2021

Another good week of weather and lots of play.  The main playing areas are holding up really well so far, particularly the fairways.  We will start some liquid fertiliser on them next week to assist with colour retention as there is not too much growth left in them.  The tees have still been growing and covering in quite well but the cooler overnight temperatures are starting to slow them down.  The bunker crews have nearly finished what has been an enormous task of re-sanding and facing the bunkers.  If only the old irrigation system would be as good as the rest of the place!!  Three pretty major breaks this week which couldn't be isolated so the whole system gets shut down and drained which means a slow re-pressurising of the lines to prevent further damage.  We quite often have problems at this time of year as the ground not only cools down but it is actually also drying out as well which can mean some pipe movement.  A few sprinklers have stuck on overnight as well which has caused some localised flooding and wet patches around some greens in particular.  

I have mentioned the last couple of years of a resistant strain of Poa annua that we have in various areas and the struggles to control it.  Some of it actually survived the summer which is really unusual for such a shallow rooted grass but i guess just shows how much rain we had.  We are battling it again and have tried several different methods.  There is some in the roughs but it's the patches in 3 and 10R greens and the Tif PPG collar that are the most frustrating and are proving nigh on impossible to eradicate.

Friday, May 21, 2021

Another very productive week on the courses with some very nice weather albeit a bit cool in the mornings.  The big tree dump on 6R was mulched this week which reduces the fire hazard and allows us access to the area.

Tub grinder in action.
 

As mentioned last week the shade is starting take effect and none so more than on 4R tee.  The photos below show the deterioration around the mens back tee in just over four weeks.  And winter has a long way to run.

4R tee April 16.

4R tee May 19.


Friday, May 14, 2021

And still it rains.  Another 60mm this week to just top us up again and takes the total to 2,055mm since December 1, 2020.  The radar still below is from the front that hit on Tuesday morning just as we were about to start.  It only dropped 10mm but it kicked off the weeks wet.  The black spot over the ''W'' in Tweed is right on top of us.


Some nice daytime temperatures still has the grass moving along and the excellent grass cover is just what we need to survive winter.  You can already see the fairway turf on the shaded north side of the east / west fairways starting to thin.  Fairways like 2, 4, 5, 11 and 12 River are some of the ones affected.  The shaded greens are also thinning and this is one of the factors in the maintenance of the River greens as they are particularly affected by the shade.  Greens like 2, 4, 5, 12 and 13 River have quite serious shade issues and require special treatment to try and assist them with their growth.

I visited a course this week with no such shade issues and that was at Teven GC just outside of Ballina.  The course was purchased about five years ago and the team set about transforming the once heavily treed site and the result is simply stunning.  Former Monash GC course super Paul Gumbleton led the transformation and was ably assisted by former Kingston Heath assistant of over thirty years Bob Simmons.  The greens were planted with TifEagle and the rest of the site was turfed completely with Sir Grange Zoysia.  A new clubhouse and some equally stunning landscaping leaves just a few odds and ends to complete the project.  If you get the chance it is well worth the visit to see the transformation.


Sanctuary Cove Super Paul McLean playing No. 9.

And a group of ladies were left wondering what all the fuss was as they heard a group of noisy miners chirping their heads off on Thursday as they played 11R.  To their surprise there was an Echidna making its way across the fairway heading for the rainforest area on the RHS of 11.  Many thanks to Liz Browne for the great photo.


 

Friday, May 7, 2021

Wednesday certainly cooled things down with the daytime temperature not even topping 20 degrees which is the first time since August last year.  We also got a further 15mm of rain during the day and the water table is that high that it looked like we'd had 100mm with the amount of water lying about the courses.  The fertiliser that got applied to the tees is certainly doing it's job with a very good cover of grass evident as we head towards winter.

Once again the course closure on Tuesday allowed us some much needed course access and the River greens were solid tined with the same size tines as the West greens the week before.  We also got a sanding on both courses greens which will probably be the last for the season and this helps level up the surface.  It is a blended sand that is used and its got some humate and gypsum mixed in with it.  An application of soluble fertiliser on Thursday has some nice colour on the River greens as well.

Quite a few more bunkers were renovated during this week and the weather finally allowed the contractor to come in and spray the assortment of weeds on the West course lakes.  It will probably take a couple of applications to get control due to the thickness of cover.

Friday, April 30, 2021

A very productive week on the courses with the mowing requirements certainly waning which allows for a lot of other works to be done.  We have started a program of renovating bunkers which includes the addition of some sand where required and re-facing the faces of the bunkers.  It is labour intensive and slow work but the results thus far have been excellent.

The majority of fairways were fertilised this week and all tees on both courses were also done.  The fertiliser applied has 65% slow release which in a perfect world would slowly release over the next six to eight weeks.  Unfortunately golf courses aren't the perfect world, particularly when you have golf carts driving all over the fairways literally smashing the granules up and causing the nutrients to release.  We will probably finsh up with around 30% slow release left out there which will be releasing and taking advantage of the last bit of warmth in the ground.

The course closure today due to the proposed roadworks gave us the opportunity to get the West greens solid tine aerated which allows some air exchange and helps the greens breathe.  The photo below shows the tine used and we get about 80mm depth.  Once the green is rolled following you hardly know we have been there but the turf roots certainly do.

6.3mm solid tine.

 
1W green tine and roll.


After a couple of dry weeks the rain looks like it might be back again with an ordinary forecast for the weekend.  Year to date at the end of April has us at 1395mm and since December 1 we have had 1953mm.

 
And we took delivery of two new greensmowers this week.  They replace two of our fleet of diesel mowers that had served us exceptionally well throughout their twelve year lifetime.  The new machines are of the hybrid variety and are predominantly powered electrically.  This reduces our emissions and fuel usage significantly but more importantly means we can mow earlier due to the low noise levels.  Our current machines operate at 88 decibels compared to the hybrids 25 decibels.  They also eliminate hydraulic oil which takes away the possibility of burst hoses killing turf on the greens surface.  They have a 14 horsepower petrol motor that operates at idle which powers a generator which in turn provides the power for the unit.  An advantage of this is no battery charging and no restriction on run time as there has been with all ''electric'' models that we have previously trialled.
 

New mower on 9W.


 

Friday, April 16, 2021

Quite remarkably there is still some water lying in a few areas around the property.  We haven't recorded rain for the last seven days and the weather has been nice and sunny which is just what we want for the turf and also to dry the place out.  Just about everything got mown this week and a few areas got scalped which is understandable considering some fairways didn't get mown for three weeks.

One area that certainly got scalped was the new target green that was installed on the short range earlier in the week.  The golf management committee deemed it necessary to restrict the length of shots being played on the short range due to a few near misses when players were picking up balls on the green and they were being peppered from incoming shots.  So the sign says - ''CHIPPING PERMITTED FROM WITHIN 25 METRES ONLY, UNLESS UNDER INSTRUCTION FROM PGA COACHING PROFESSIONAL''.

New short range sign.


 

A few cooler nights this week and generally a milder end to summer with the cloud cover associated with the rain has got the Wintergrass (Poa annua) germinating a little earlier than normal.  Although as mentioned last week, some of the Wintergrass survived the summer due to the rain which is most unusual.  We generally only try to control it in the main playing areas due to cost and spraying logistics.  As I have mentioned in other years we have some varieties of Poa that are now resistant to the available herbicides so will be trying a new product for some of these areas.  

The photo below shows some Poa already germinated on 4R tee which is expected as it is a very shaded tee and the shaded areas is where we get most of the Poa growing, due to the Couchgrass being thinner in the shade.  The photo also shows just how much wear the tee gets from just one days play and is one of the reasons I keep asking players to play from the markers of the day and stay off the back tee areas to give us a chance to maintain a full cover throughout the winter.  We do have a good cover of grass on the tees now but that has to last us until November when we start to get some growth again.


Poa germination around the bottom tee marker.

And speaking of tees, below is 16 tee at Augusta during the final round of the Masters.  Notice only one line of divots which are from that days play.  The others in front have been plugged out with fresh turf.  Ahh the pursuit of perfection  -  and they do a pretty good job of it.

16 tee divots.

 

Friday, April 9, 2021

At last a fine sunny day that should help start the drying process and I have never seen the courses stay this wet for this long.  The light nature of the rain means that the water just sits in pools and with the soil profile saturated the water has literally nowhere to go.  We are blessed to just be talking about some water lying about the place in comparison to many other clubs on the eastern seaboard who have been flooded and covered with silt.  Many SE Qld and NSW central coast courses flooded again this week although nowhere near to the extent of a few weeks ago.

We haven't attempted to mow fairways this week due to the soft conditions and only a small amount of rough was able to be mown.  We are lucky that there is no more serious heat so that the grass isn't growing too strongly although on the other hand it would be nice to get some more growth to set us up for winter.

We have had a really weird reaction take place on the West greens this past week.  The greens were fertilised on March 30 in the lead up to Easter and there appears to have been some sort of reaction take place with the nutrients releasing in a haphazard way resulting in some blotchy patches appearing.  We put a soil conditioner and some more fertiliser out this week and they are returning to a consistent colour.  When the River greens were new we had similar occurrences as the high rain levels leach a lot of the nutrients out but it hasn't happened to the West greens before and we have certainly had enough rain to test them.  We have sent away some soil samples to see if that will provide an answer.  I have used the mix of fertilser for my whole career and have never seen this issue before.  Another course who used the same sand supplier has had a similar issue this week which makes it even stranger.

15W green spots.

 

And a rare double rainbow nearly formed on Thursday morning which was quite spectacular but it also meant there was some more showers hanging around.


Rainbow over 15R.

A couple of shots below from Windsor CC in Sydney in Sydney this week who bore the brunt of the floods.  As I mentioned above we only have some casual water lying about now.


Yes that's a green.

 

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

78mm of rain in the 24 hours to 9am this morning came on top of the 75mm that was recorded in the 24 hours to 9am Tuesday morning on top of the 13mm that fell on Sunday.  To say the courses are wet is an understatement.  It has been the worst type of rain we can get in that it is only quite light and doesn't get the chance to run off which means it just makes the courses even wetter.  There is water standing in areas I can't recall ever being there before such as 8R tee which is the driest tee on the course.

So the 187mm so far in March takes us to just shy of 1.9 metres of rain since December 1 which is 75 inches in the old scale.  Incredible.

2W fairway Wednesday morning.


9R tee Wednesday morning on high tide.

 
8R tee Tuesday afternoon.

Saturday, April 3, 2021

We just can't seem to get a break from the rain and it has certainly been a roller coaster ride over the past couple of years.  2019 saw a very dry January / February followed by a very wet March / April then the driest ever July thru December.  Then 2020 kicks off with the wettest ever January thru March and then February and December 2020 each being the wettest on record, since 1886 for Tweed Heads.  Then 2021 brings us the deluge we have experienced in March which finished up being the second wettest March on record behind 1906 which was the wettest year on record.  So below is the story of the past four months and although not record breaking it has just been persistent with 73 / 114 days recording rain.  It's been such an unusual summer that there is some Winter Grass (Poa annua) still alive on a couple of greens surrounds which is the first time I have ever seen that at the end of summer.  Poa is a shallow rooted grass that normally can't tolerate the summer heat we have.


And it doesn't look like it's over just yet with the outlook for the next seven days.


Not the best outlook.

 

It's hard to remember that we dried out to the extent below twice in 2019.
 

4W fairway November 2019.

 

The lack of sunlight is still not helping turf growth but we are on a par with other years with April 1st seeing us drop below 20° in the compound at 5.30am for the first time since December.  April normally still sees a few days of over 30° so hopefully that will be the case.

All tees on both courses got fertilised this week and hopefully the fairways will also get some fertiliser over the next couple of weeks if they dry out enough.  We have also been able to get a lot of bunker maintenance done this past week with most of the courses being too wet to mow.

 

Friday, March 26, 2021

A really productive day today with a lot of clean up achieved across both courses.  We started on the bunkers as well but they will be a long term project, particularly the West.  Almost 100% of the River bunkers will get raked tomorrow with some work needed on some of the washouts.  The West bunkers have done what they do and turned to mud.  We didn't get any fairways mown as they are generally too wet and as much rough got mown as the day allowed.  There is some extremely long grass out there and will take time to get to it all from both a time and wetness factor.  1R green will also come back in to play on Saturday.

We have had to cut a drain across 11W fairway in front of the green to drain the water from the green.  When the green was built we renewed the drainage outlet and ran a pipe down the front bunker and it has somehow become blocked at a point where it is about 2 metres deep.  I couldn't get a big enough machine there in the wet so made the decision to renew the pipe.  The green well was basically backing up with water as it couldn't drain out.

The River greens got some fertiliser yesterday and we are planning on sanding them next week.  328 doesn't like dull conditions and they have thinned considerably which is not ideal going in to winter, especially with the amount of golf we have coming up. Getting a full healthy sward is of critical importance and will be a focus over the next several weeks.  The West greens have fared much better and look as though they have enjoyed the break from traffic.  The fact that they are so much flatter helps spread the wear as well which is a great benefit.

So we finished with 461mm from Friday evening to Wednesday morning and have now had 760mm in March - Thats 30 inches in the old scale!!  YTD is 1130mm and since December 1 is a total of 1690mm.  Most people I quote those figures to don't believe it.

With no more rain overnight motorised buggies will be back on both courses on Saturday but there are still a lot of wet areas so please exercise extreme caution when driving.

And although we think we have it bad spare a thought for dozens of golf courses on the eastern seaboard that have been flooded this past week.  Yes we get wet and if the river does break its banks it is a ''clean flood'' with not much debris or silt coming in.  Pictured below is Nambucca Heads GC where they are pushing 6 inches of sludge off the fairways.  It's a common sight at most clubs that have flooded and greens cop the same amount of silt.  The best way to get it off the greens is to use high pressure water but most pump stations go under as well so it is all hand work.  The Glades has suffered its fifth flood in thirteen months and this one is one of the worst they have seen there.   Seriously heartbreaking for the crews.

Nambucca Heads GC.

 

Thursday, March 25, 2021

The final update for the week @ 5pm Thursday.

Most of the water has now gone although there are some areas where water is still standing that I don't recall seeing this much before, including LHS 14R before the dogleg and further down on 14R on the RHS of the green, especially so long after it has stopped raining.  The entire cart path on the RHS 14R green is inundated which I am sure has never happened previously.  Just goes to show how much rain there has been.

But the good news is that both courses will be open for walking only on Friday.  Carts should be good for the River on Saturday and it just depends how well the West dries out tomorrow so that call will be made as usual before 5.30am Saturday.

Thanks for your interest in the blog (now 3,800 views since Saturday) and your patience in missing out on some game time due to the weather.

 

Water still lying LHS 14R.


Water covering the cart path RHS 14R.

   
Now for the dirty work - clean up time on 1W.

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

6pm update Wednesday.

We have been pumping water all day today as well as clearing drains and have made some progress but not enough to make the courses playable tonight.  At the moment we are predominantly concentrating on the River and there is still water across both 11 and 12R making them both impassable.  There are also numerous other large puddles of water at least a foot deep and the ground is pretty much saturated throughout.

I will update the course conditions tab by 5.30am in the morning.

A couple of photos below to show progress made today.

1W this morning.

 

1W this afternoon.



12R Tuesday evening.

 

12R this afternoon.

Just another 70mm in the past 24 hours but it was nice to see a clear radar this morning and even nicer to see a full sky of stars.  Hopefully now we can start the process of drying out which is going to take some time.  461mm of rain or 18.5 inches of rain has fallen since Friday night which takes us to 1129mm this year and 1687mm since December 1, 2020. 

The photo below is of 1W fairway looking through to 11 and 12R and that water level is constant all the way across and up to the fairway bunker on LHS 14R.  Contrary to what some people believe the drain is not blocked but actually flowing as fast as it can.  The drainage pipe starts on the LHS 12R and is only 150mm until it gets to RHS 1W where it empties into a 200mm pipe which then transports the water to the open drain at the front of 18W and into Shallow Bay, which from its name doesn't suggest a lot of drainage potential.  From 12R to 18W is about 1% fall which again doesn't allow for a lot of flow.

1W looking towards 11R.
  

And while we lament what's happened at Cool Tweed during this weather event spare a thought for those courses further north on the coast.  I saw some photos and videos yesterday and the damage will be significant and take months to recover from.  Once the water starts pouring down Mudgeeraba Creek with rain from the hinterland, The Glades is the first to go under then Colonial and then Lakelands.  They are 'dirty floods'' too with a lot of silt and debris being deposited on the courses not to mention the damage from the fast flowing water.  And The Grand GC wasn't spared either with huge volumes of water cascading down the Nerang River and inundating large parts of their course as well.  Not to mention Murwillumbah who are well and truly under again.

And hopefully that's it for this weather event.  Thanks to those members who have left positive comments on the Blog and sent emails thanking me for the updates.  There have been more than 2,750 views on the Blog since Sunday evening so I trust you've been well informed.  

And finally thanks to the crew for continuing to go out and make sure the drains are running as well as possible.  It's dirty and sometimes dangerous work and they are often in waders to get where they need to go which means restricted movement in flood water.