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.