Friday, June 17, 2022

Finally a week of decent weather but not really drying enough with a lot of soft areas left out there.  But as I have mentioned we have been so much more fortunate than so many other courses and thus far most of our turf is in good condition.  I did state very early this year that we would be in for a tough winter period with the low light intensity over summer with all the rain and that is certainly the case.  The photo below shows 11R fairway with the right hand shaded portion of the fairway in much thinner condition and although this happens on an annual basis it is worse this year due to the low light intensity of summer.  And we still have at least three months before some recovery can happen.  At least the winter solstice is next week so hopefully things will improve.

Right of the line so much thinner / weaker in the shade.


I am heading to Melbourne for the annual turf conference next week which I am really looking forward to and am obviously not going for the winter weather!!  For the first time our Association is holding a joint conference with the Golf General Managers Association which quite possibly couldn't come at a better time.  High on the list of topics to be discussed is staff procurement, training and retention.  There is currently a massive shortage of qualified greenkeepers in Australia and clubs in some areas are literally outbidding one another to attract or retain staff.  Other sectors in the turf maintenance industry are also playing a part in poaching staff from golf clubs.  I have just recently lost two qualified and long term employees to schools who are paying $10 an hour more for basically just groundstaff to operate mowers.   It is a major issue facing the golf course maintenance industry and something needs to be done soon.  In our local area the cost of rental properties pretty much precludes interstate prospects from even thinking about coming here, if there are any options available anyway.  It will be an interesting week I am sure and I am hopeful for some really positive outcomes.   Over 700 delegates are already registered to attend and if you count the allied trade attendees who are there for the trade show the numbers easily top 1,000.

Friday, June 10, 2022

Probably one of the biggest single day golf events I have been involved with on course with the Mick Fanning Charity Golf Day at our club today.  I have certainly seen more sponsors covering more holes but the efforts of the sponsors to do something unique for the day was exceptional.  Not often I sit in my office to the ''doof doof'' of the RedBull disco on 11W tee and every so often the sounds of the Mirarchi band entertaining the players wafting across the course.  A perfect day of weather for the event and a very professional organising team who co-ordinated the day very well and fortunately the course was probably as dry as it's been for some time, especially given the size of some of the displays we had to get out on course.  And at the end of the day there was one empty can and two pieces of rubbish that hadn't been binned out on the courses and they have been left in a state that you would barely know anything happened out there.

NTP circle Balter style.  Hand drawn as well!!

Hmmmm the perfect day!!

Lululemon Airstream @ 4RT.

The Mad Hueys @ 2RT.

RedBull disco truck @ 11RT.


A big crowd on hand for the 18R shootout.

Speaking of the dryness of the course and not sure if you have seen the video at Grafton GC where they showed the second fairway and it was just mush.  They have only been able to play the course a handful of times since the first flood.  There are a number of high level clubs in Sydney that are carry bag only and quite a few that are nine holes only.  We are still as wet as I have seen it considering no rain for four or five days and that is one of the driest runs we have had this year!!  The greens are holding up really well but the fairways are still very soft and have some long term damage from the cart and pull buggy traffic.

The National Golf Foundation is an organisation in the USA that collects and analyses data for distribution throughout the golf industry.  I was staggered to read the following figures which perhaps shows why the equipment companies have so much leverage in the sport with a lot of business at stake.   Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, we’ve chronicled the increase in active golf engagement – both participation and play. Broadly speaking, almost 1-in-9 Americans are active golfers, whether that’s playing on a golf course, hitting balls at a driving range, or swinging and socializing at a golf entertainment venue like Topgolf.

That’s 37.5 million in total, making golf one of the leading U.S. participation sports. Consider that more people played golf in some form last year than participated in basketball, baseball, tennis, soccer or skiing.    Amazing figures.

Friday, June 3, 2022

Well I didn't seem to miss much while I was away as the rain just kept on coming down for the entire month of May.  In the old terms of measurement 12 ½ inches of rain fell in May which takes the year to date total to 82 inches.  And if you go back to October 1 2021, we have had 102 inches of rain in those seven months.  It’s almost mind boggling and there is apparently the threat of another east coast low pressure system forming some time in mid – June.  Surely enough is enough.  And as the photo below shows there was plenty of water on the fairways last July that we tried to move off the surface by deep slicing the area to no avail.

July 1, 2021 on 18W.

Not that it’s very comforting but we are certainly not alone.  Speaking with a number of fellow Supers this week from Gympie all the way down the east coast to Sydney, the story is the same.  Water logged courses with water pooling in areas never seen before for extended periods such as the water sitting on 4R fairway.  It’s actually a high spot on the fairway just short of the bunker but is still pooling water.  There is a course on the Sunshine Coast that has full cart paths that have actually restricted even pull buggies to cart paths to prevent damage!!  But when you look at the damage caused by pull carts on our normally considered ''dry'' course, you can understand. Many courses are playing tee up or a majority of holes played as par 3’s to try and limit damage.

It seems hard to believe that this is what I wrote in a blog post in December 2019;

The need for rain gathers momentum every day now especially with the increasing temperatures.  The turf is under a lot more stress as the heat exacerbates the drying out of the rootzone.  The pond on the dogleg of 5W has dried up again which is the third time in eighteen months and I think it has only happened on three other occasions since I have been here.


5W dam November 2019.


And some good news yesterday with the delivery of six new course runabouts that are the main mode of transport for us around the courses.  As with all other industries there are lengthy wait times for delivery with these taking nearly twelve months to get here.  Our existing fleet were all but exhausted and these will be put to good use.

3 of the new ''Gators'' coming off the truck at last.


Sunday, May 1, 2022

Day 4 is here already and the time seems to have flown. At this stage I haven't heard any negatives about the course which is a good sign and very pleasing with the amount of effort put in by the crew.

The threat of gusty winds meant that the greens were only mown this morning and not rolled to restrict the speed, hopefully preventing balls moving if the wind did get up.  The greens are running at just under ten and a half feet.

Greenway Turf Solutions who are one of our suppliers has been providing breakfast for the crew each day since the Pro am on Wednesday.  They do this at most major tournaments around Australia and on Wednesday I asked them how many they cooked for at January's Australian PGA and the answer was 40 and at the 2019 Presidents Cup the answer was 100+.  So cooking for the thirteen of us was a walk in the park!!  I then commended the crew on the job they have done and the quality course that they have produced, particularly considering the two floods.

To think this was 18W tee eight weeks ago.

18W tee February 28.

18W tee after round 3.

Day 4 pin placements below and I will do a pin sheet for tomorrows Members competition who are playing the same course.

Day 4.

I will be on leave for a while so the Blog will be taking a break until June.   Hopefully the weather starts to dry up sooner than later.



Saturday, April 30, 2022

Only light showers overnight and the course will be good to go for the first players at 7.50am off the first tee only.  Greens are still running @ 10.5 feet and are true as can be which is the aim of all the preps.  Day three pin placements below. 


Friday, April 29, 2022

Day 2 of the tournament and unfortunately we received just over 7mm of rain in the front that blew across the courses at 4am this morning which reversed all of yesterday's drying.  We weren't able to mow fairways again today but got all greens, tees and collars mown and all bunkers raked.

Feedback from the players was positive which was good especially the comments about the greens which was expected as they are running just about perfectly.  Pin positions for round 2 below.

Day 2.


Thursday, April 28, 2022

Tournament day one has finally arrived and fortunately the weather is fine and a vast improvement on Wednesday's Pro am day.  The rain started at 8.01am on Wednesday morning just as the groups were about to tee off in the Pro am.  15mm in twenty minutes was absolutely not what we needed and most of the puddles filled again after finally drying out over the weekend.  I have spoken to a couple of Sydney Superintendents who are experiencing the same high water table causing water to pool for prolonged periods and losing turf cover in places as we have.

We couldn't mow fairways this morning in the wet conditions which from the mowing perspective isn't too much of a problem as they aren't growing much but it meant the dew, which was quite heavy this morning, was left on the ground.  The greens were mown and rolled and are running at just over 10 and a half feet which is pretty much their normal speed which is in line with the tournaments requirements.

The ladies are using 1 and 9R fairways as a driving range and with the shorter daylight hours  some portable lights have been set up to help the early starters.  Don't get any ideas about golfing at night Members.... the course needs a break!!

1R fairway 4.30am this morning.


Here are day one pin placements that were selected by Golf NSW officials which is very pleasing as it takes the heat off us!!  We have two staff members changing holes and they have both had tournament experience on the PGA tour at Pebble Beach and Harbourtown so this is a walk in the park for them.  

Day one.

 The figures for holes 3 and 8 may seem confusing but the players are supplied with a yardage book and some of the measurements are referenced off points in the book.


Friday, April 22, 2022

Tournament week is just about upon us and the staff have done an amazing job to get the West course in particular, to where it is now.  Considering what we looked like at the start and then again at the end of March with floodwater, it is an absolute credit to them.  All but a small area on 4R fairway were able to be mown today and I have never seen it take this long for the fairways to dry out following rain.  16W has always been wet before the fairway bunker but the amount of water that it held past the bunker was extraordinary.  We haven't been able to mow 16W for just shy of four weeks which I can't believe.

But the course is ready for the players and with the weather gods co-operating and a few final touches I think we will have produced a pretty good product.  Actually, it will be nice for the course to get a break and only have about 120 players each day who for the most part respect the course they are playing.

A bit unlike this effort on 5W today in the members comp.

At least they tried to put the divot back.

Tournament weeks such as this are a very long drawn out affair for the the crew with staff needing to be onsite before, during and after play  to prepare the courses and put them back together. for the next day.  Hopefully the squeegees won't be needed during play!!??


Friday, April 15, 2022

Surely the rain forecast below has to be right?  It just can't keep going the way it is. Just over a week before the players start arriving for the biggest tournament the club has hosted in thirty five years and we need the rain to stop to get the courses dry again.  We need to protect the fairways as much as possible to ensure the best possible playing surfaces for the tournament.  19mm of rain in total overnight Thursday and the West fairways were swamps again and most of the River course was not much better.  The light showers during the day today don't help the situation and I think the courses are wetter at 5pm today than they were this morning.  A couple of shots below of 13 and 14W early on Friday morning.  We actually started checking 16W for an irrigation leak as the standing water on it is just not receding, the water table is just so high.

Oh and just for the rainfall total - the rain since last Friday has put our YTD total to 1565mm.  That's 1.565 metres of rain

Hopefully correct?

13W Good Friday morning.


It's going to be a huge two week period of work for the crew to get the West as good as we can given the resources available (and the weather) whilst still maintaining the River course for play.  I had arranged for three extra volunteers to come in to supplement our crew but unfortunately the second flood means they are needed at their home course which is totally understandable. Obviously not a lot will be done to the River course in the mornings of tournament week and almost every time I get some correspondence from the Euro Ladies Tour their start time comes forward as they are very concerned about getting all the players through on days one and two.  


Friday, April 8, 2022

Another 52mm of rain overnight which although forecast was absolutely not what the courses needed.  They had just about dried up completely with only a handful of puddles left and when I first saw them at 4.30 this morning they once again resembled a lake.  We had done an enormous amount of work on the bunkers this week, particularly on the West course, and the fear was that it would have caused more washouts.  Fortunately it didn't and the only positive of the rain was that it helped compact some of the new sand.

1R fairway at first light Friday morning.

Speaking of new sand, we were finally able to get to the practice bunker today after weeks of cancellations due to weather.  We used our Bobcat operator  which wasn't really my preferred method but earthmoving machinery is in high demand at the moment and very difficult to book.  Once again the only positive of no motorised buggies on the courses today was that the number of people congregating around the practice area was reduced as we ferried the sand in to the bunker.  The sludge that had been deposited there in the February flood was removed and the new sand dumped and spread.  Thirty two tonne of sand or about twenty one cubic metres was placed in the bunker today.  We were also able to get some topdressing sand onto the two short range greens to try and help them recover and fill in the surface.  They have been fertilised and scarified several times so hoping to get a good surface by the time the Ladies Open arrives in two weeks.  Dare I say it but a nice heavy shower of rain would help settle both the green and bunker!!

The sludge removed.

Sand spread and compacted.

Ready for play.

In such wet conditions we are severely resricted in what we can do on the courses and today gave us the opportunity to edge the buggy paths around the courses.  Fortunately we only have them situated adjacent to greens and tees but it still took a team of six the full day to get them edged and blown off.  They hadn't been done for a while due to the more pressing matters of flood recovery over the past five weeks and being so wet makes for a less than perfect result.  Interesting to note that when I first arrived at the club there were no buggy paths and now forty eight man hours are used to edge what we now have.

A long walk.

Friday, April 1, 2022

Certainly glad that this week is over although there is still a massive amount of recovery work to be done, particularly on the West course as we prepare for the NSW Ladies Open which is three weeks away.  

Unfortunately we have had three separate irrigation pipe failures in the past thirty six hours and have had to re-prime the irrigation lines three times as well as effect the pipe repairs.  Lots of man hours away from other duties and that's the reason players would have seen sprinklers operating during the day as we purge air from the system.  The downside of this is that without pumps we can't lower the irrigation dam which is a pivotal drainage point for a number of areas, none more so than 2 and 12W fairways, so they are staying wet.  We were able to get a few West fairways mown today but as with the River course there are six fairways we haven't been able to drive on yet.  The mid-morning high tide isn't helping with some inundation happening and the water table staying so high that the last bit of drainage from the surface is being delayed.   As a consequence of the still very wet conditions the decision was taken today to not allow carts on the River and to close the West over the weekend.

But I can't help spare a thought for some of the other clubs on the east coast who have also flooded again for the second time in a month.  As I mentioned last time we normally have ''clean'' floods with just some debris coming on to the courses and no silt.  Most other courses have just got all the silt off them and were nearly back to normal and have had to start all over again.  It is absolutely heart wrenching for their staff as it is for CTH staff who had 80% of the West bunkers restored only to have them all washed away. 

Thursday, March 31, 2022

It never ceases to amaze me how the water gets off this property and it has done it again overnight.  The main area of concern we have now is still 12R but I am confident that it will be dry enough to allow play tomorrow.  There are still other areas of standing water but they are progressively drying up.

It will be a 7.30am walking only 1 tee start so see the timesheets for booking details.   9R will play from the start of the fairway as the tee will most likely be inaccessible on high tide and all bunkers will be GUR.


12R fairway should clear overnight.

Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Not much change today with the annoying light rain keeping everything wet.  No trees have come down yet with the gusty winds that we have been getting though so that's a bonus in the clean up.   A bit of debris but nothing like earlier in the month.

And just when you don't want an irrigation break we get a major one on the wettest fairway on the golf course @ 12R, right on the corner of the dogleg.  

There is still a huge amount of water that needs to be moved off 11 and 12R fairways before any play is possible.  At this stage I can't see any chance of play until Saturday at the earliest and to be honest that' s being optimistic.


Irrigation blowout on 12R.

And still it rains.  Another 42mm overnight has put a dampener on things but hopefully the worst of the overnight rain has, and will stay south of us.  There have been some falls of 300+mm for the second day in a row around Ballina.  It makes for a very wet past few months and it seems to becoming a trend for the period of December 1 - end of March over the past few seasons.  December 2019 to end of March 2020 saw 1593mm fall.  The same period  2020 - 2021 = 1710 and with one day left this season we sit at 1669mm.

Out on the courses they are obviously very wet but the positive aspect is that the river is staying low meaning that a huge amount of water can get off the courses and thus far there has been little inundation on high tide.  This mornings high tide just came over the levee bank road to 2R.  The standing water in areas that don't have drainage will take some time to move especially with such a high water table.

The photo below shows 9R tee at low tide Tuesday afternoon showing just how much water drained off.

9R tee at low tide Tuesday afternoon.

@high tide Tuesday morning.


Tuesday, March 29, 2022

Well the rain gauge overflowed this morning so that means we had more than 275mm.  The courses are nowhere near as bad as last month but it does look like there is some silt on the short range again.  The river only just came over on to the road to 2R tee and the water has already started to recede as you can see in some of the photos from this morning which were taken on high tide.  There is a huge amount of water out there and with the rainfall totals from up the river I would expect some inundation from tidal water over the the next couple of high tides.
The river just came over the track to 2R tee @ high tide.  
A comparison behind 2R tee.

This time @ high tide and the river is 600mm below road level.

Last time - March 2.  

9R tee.

18W @ high tide.   Note the wash indicating how much has drained.


A comparison of 6R green.


6R green last time.

6R green this time.  Note the ''cleaner'' water.

15W green partially under - about ''normal'' for a big rain event.

Looking across 12 and 11R fairways.  All this water needs to go before we can get play back out there in any form.