Friday, September 24, 2021

My kids who live in Melbourne joke that the worst part of a seven day lockdown is the first three weeks.  Let's hope that's not the case for us!

A bit of a quiet week with low staff numbers due to the lockdown once again.  We were able to get all the West tees scarified and this year we used a ride on machine rather than the walk behind.  Time wise it was similar but there is much less disruption to the surface whilst still getting the desired result.  We also finished aerating the West fairways and did 10W green end with an old aerator that doesn't do quite as good a job but doesn't smash tines as often.  10W fairway was pretty much a graveyard for old car parts at one stage and there are all sorts of car rubbish buried underneath it which doesn't combine well for any sort of cultivation.

We are certainly starting to dry out and irrigation is at full capacity which is really difficult given the constant wind we are experiencing.  The roughs are very dry and the root pruned areas are still showing the benefit with a photo of LHS 8R below showing once again enough moisture for Poa annua to grow in the root free area.  The water table is also plummeting.



The vast majority of the fairways are irrigated by a single row of sprinklers that have a throw of around thirty metres.  They are what's known as gear drive sprinklers with the water passing through the gear mechanism making them rotate.  The sprinklers we have are also two speed so they slow down when covering the sides of the fairways where there is no overlap.  It is quite possible that some of the sprinklers date back to the 1970's but such is their construction that they are still going strong.  We rarely have failures with the gear drive and generally only find out they aren't turning when the turf starts drying out close to them as happened on 5W this week.  The photo below shows where the water was going while the sprinkler wasn't turning.

Nice and green where the water went!!

And speaking of discoloration I walk past a bowls club fairly regularly and there have been some patches on one of the greens that have had my turfhead interested.  I actually saw someone working on the green and asked him about them and got the expected answer of some disease.  But the area below was caused by the use of a defibrillator on one of the bowlers who collapsed on the green with the electric charge killing the grass and causing a surge of growth on the perimeter which is what happens when you get a lightning strike on a green.
Damaged green.

Friday, September 17, 2021

We have officially had enough of the wind for the week and it has had an extreme adverse effect on irrigation distribution with it barely abating all week.  It has been an advantage for the fairway aeration by drying out the cores to allow them to be rubbed in a little easier but that is the only positive.  One of the big negatives of the wind is the amount of leaf debris that finds its way in to the bunkers.  The photo below shows 4R bunker being blown out Friday morning when we finally got a break from the gales.

Leaves, leaves and more leaves.

The aeration continued and only 10W fairway remains on the West course.  16W was only partially done as we were breaking way too many tines on the fairway due to the roots from the Fig trees extending all the way across the fairway.  And they weren't all on the surface either as the photo of a core below shows the root about 40mm below the surface.  Yes that's solid wood on the bottom 25mm.  The good part about the roots was that they were very dry which means that the root pruning down the side of the fairway earlier this year has had the desired effect.

No wonder the 16W struggles to grow good turf.


Speaking of root pruning and another good result down the LHS 12R fairway.  The only problem with the pruning showing up so well is that it means we are very dry.  After the almost ridiculous 1.6 metres of rain for the first six months of 2021, we have slowed right down and have had just 141mm in July followed by 20mm in August and just 26mm thus far in September.  We certainly need some soon.

Chalk and cheese.

We sprayed some of the foreign couchgrass that has found its way into the centre of the River greens this week and will be plugging it out to the side of the green before re-turfing those areas.  At this stage the River greens renovation will go ahead as planned on Monday October 18 although as with just about everything in life at the moment that will be Covid dependent.

The lower player numbers due to the border closure has given us the chance to get a course to ourselves each Tuesday.  This week we were able to get a dry dethatch and mow on the West greens.  The benefit of doing this in the dry is huge with a far superior result against when we have to do it with dew.  More material is removed in the dethatch and the quality of cut in the mow is first class.  Next week we will be scarifying the West tees weather permitting. 

And thanks to Nicole for the kind post on FB earlier in the week and to those members who liked or commented.  I can't take too much credit though as it's the staff who put the runs on the board - I just plan and co-ordinate it.  So a big thanks to the crew for all they do. 

Friday, September 10, 2021

Hopefully we will get back to normal staffing levels next week with the opening up of the border which will be good because we are getting very busy.  The fairway aeration continued this week and the fairways are coming up really well.  We don't always aerate out to the fairway edge so as to avoid coming in contact with tree roots which can smash the tines and given that each tine is worth $18 and there are 48 on the machine it is also economically responsible as well.

The River greens got a sanding on Tuesday which really helps the surface but the sand was quite badly contaminated with some stones and coagulated fertiliser which needed to be blown off the greens which cost time that we could ill afford.  For the first time in my career the sand supply company admitted fault and are going to replace the sand mix.  Once we had blown the greens off the result was as per normal.

The contaminated particles on the green.

We had to put out the first application of growth regulator on the fairways this week as the couchgrass had started to seed.  Apart from being unsightly the seedhead is also very difficult to mow with our reel mowers and at the appropriate rate the growth regulator prevents the formation of the seedhead.  The timing of the seedhead appearing at the start of the season varies from year to year and this is fairly early.  Last year it was September 25 and in 2019 it was the same as this year.  I generally associate it with a change in the weather so hopefully we are in for an early spring.

Seedhead evident in light rough.

And it doesn't look like there will be much social distancing going on at Whistling Straits for the Ryder Cup in a couple of weeks.  The first hole has been shortened to allow for more grandstands to accommodate the hordes of expected spectators.

Stadium golf that's for sure!!

And I doubt there were any grandstands at Moortown GC in Leeds for the 1929 Ryder Cup which was the first ever held on British soil.  It is a gem of a course and was designed by the famous Alister MacKenzie in his home town of Leeds.  I got the chance to play it back in 2014 and it was the first time that I had ever carried a mat to play off due to the winter conditions.

A great Mackenzie course.
First time for everything!


Friday, September 3, 2021

A first for us this week with the start of fairway aeration with our new tractor mounted implement in use.  It is essentially two of our existing walking machines coupled together on the back of a tractor and driven by the tractors power take off and so is quite a precision machine.  Previously we have had quite an ''agricultural'' type of aerator that probably did more harm than good.  With the amount of play we get it is going to be a very slow process but the fairways will show great benefit.  We are doing about half a fairway at a time that will allow players to gain relief to the other side of the fairway while we are working.  The cores are left on the fairway until dry and then rubbed in to effectively topdress the fairway.  The resultant ''chaff'' is then blown off.  Players may take relief under Rule 16.1b (relief for ball in general area) or play the ball as it lies.

We're off....aerating.

A totally unexpected 10mm of rain on Wednesday night was certainly welcome as we were starting to dry out.  A good tell-tale sign of how dry it is, are the drainlines showing up and also the recent successful root pruning becoming evident in a number of areas.  Below is a photo of a drain line on 1R fairway and some of the root pruned areas really showing out.

Drainline on 1R.

The first one is down the LHS 11R fairway and the line of the cut is quite distinct.  The other photo is from the RHS 11R fairway and there is enough moisture in the treated area to allow the Poa to still grow compared with the RHS towards the trees that is bone dry.

LHS 11R fairway.


Enough moisture for the Poa.

And from a bygone era when we had a great golf tour in Australia with the 1984 / 85 tournament schedule for Australian golf below.  Cool Tweed figures although the thought of playing a four day tournament in late February in our heat wouldn't be too appealing.  Especially after checking the rainfall records and Monday of that week had 43mm, Tuesday 4mm, Wednesday 14mm, Thursday 32mm and Friday 46mm!!  But alas the tournament was cancelled with the last Classic played in 1983 and won by Graham Marsh.  Payne Stewart and Gary Player were also winners of the Classic.

Some great tournaments  back in the day.

And I believe the photo below was taken in Australia and you would be hard pressed to get four greater legends warming up next to each other.  Reminds me of the old Tommy Bolt quote; ''I've seen Nicklaus watch Ben Hogan practice but I've never seen Hogan watch Nicklaus''.  Love the old Spalding bag.

Truly an awesome 4some.