Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Firstly, I would like to wish you all a happy new year and hope you all enjoyed the holiday season. It has been a frantic few weeks for us here on the course during the xmas/new year period with extreme heat placing a lot of stress on our greens. As we are in a transitional zone in Sydney, we use cool season grasses (wintergrass/bentgrass mix) on our greens so during the summer months our greens really don't appreciate the hot summer sun as much as everyone sunbaking on Cronulla's beaches.

Through the xmas/new period we had 14 consecutive days with daytime temperatures above 27 degrees, with 5 of those days above 32 degrees and only 2mm of rain in that timeframe, which means a large amount of watering and labour hours were required to keep moisture in the soil.

To combat the heat we have been limiting stresses placed on the greens through using various cultural practices as well as applying certain fertilisers to help reduce stress on the plant and aid in recovery. With the high heat and high humidity we are experiencing, turf grass diseases/insects are extremely active as they try to attack the plant when it is most stressed. Preventative applications are being undertaken to prevent certain insects/diseases from causing damage to our surfaces.

Other works include:

  • Bi-weekly mowing of tees, fairways and greens surrounds as well as daily mowing of rough to keep it at a consistent height for easier playability and ball finding.
  • We have re-levelled and re-turfed the 15th social tee and will be in play ASAP. 
  • Weeded and trimmed all bunkers.
  • Growth regulator applied to all bunker edges to tighten and reduce growth
  • All greens solid-tined 
Big thank you to all my staff who work tirelessly under difficult circumstances throughout the holiday period. The condition of the course is always exceptional and its a credit to my staff how much time and effort they put into the course to present it to the golfers.

Thursday, 10 November 2016

Geez......its been a long time between posts! With so much going on with maintenance of the course the blog has had to take backseat as we are well into our busiest period with another daunting summer on the horizon! Summer seems to have come a tad early this year with very minimal rainfall and high daily temperatures already occurring which has forced us to use our irrigation system a lot more than usual this time of year. We have already encountered 4 pipe breaks as well as full system shutdowns on a couple of days and we aren't even in summer yet.....going to be many sleepless nights until we update our current irrigation system.

September was mostly dominated by bi-annual renovations of greens and tee's and by October we believe we had the course in a great condition and I thank my greens staff for their tireless effort throughout this period. All my staff worked 7 days a week for 4 weeks throughout the club championships to ensure the course was kept to a high standard.

16th green looking great throughout October

My staff are now taking small breaks at different intervals prior to our busiest time of the year through December, January and February when golfing increases, temperatures sore, humidity and rainfall intensifies which makes it a critical time on the golf course for our greens especially.

Over the past couple of months we have been aiming to improve the firmness and smoothness of greens by regularly grooming greens which cut vertically into the greens to promote horizontal growth and also reduce organic material buildup to prevent undesirable levels of thatch. Growth regulators have also been used to reduce overall growth of plant on greens all aimed to promote smooth and even surfaces. There is minimal surface disruption during these events.

On November 7th, all greens were solid-tined with 8mm tines with a depth of 10cm. The process basically involves spiking of the green surface where no soil and/or plant matter is removed whatsoever.  We immediately mow after coring and within a few days nearly all evidence of coring has disappeared.

This is a process that will be carried out monthly throughout the stressful summer period. Before the questions/complaints come rolling in regarding why I have touched the surface here are some reasons why:

  • Allows air into soil and improves gas exchange. It alleviates compaction and allows efficient gas exchange between soil and the atmosphere.
  • Allows increased infiltration/percolation of water to rootzone where it is needed most in summer.
  • Minimises turf damage and downtime as no cores are removed and can mow immediately after.
  • Minimises overall turf stress so its well suited for high summer temperatures.
  • Improves surface drainage.
Its important to note that all maintenance tasks are completed purely for the sustainability of our turf surfaces so they can continue to thrive throughout stressful periods.

Some other work undertaken of late includes the grading of the 3rd fairway bark area as well as wasteland area left of 7th tee. The bark area at 3 is now in play and 7th is still GUR for now until we get some solid grass growth after seeding.

Before at 7th tee

After at 7th tee

Construction of resurfacing/extension of 15th social tee has commenced with more areas due to be renovated in the near future.

15th social tee

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

We have received 92mm in August so far which is around par for this time of year. The last month of winter has been a busy one with various maintenance works being undertaken. We are beginning to get the finer elements of the course prepared for spring which we can't wait for!

You may have noticed we have introduced a new mulch area between 7th green and 8th tee area. This area becomes extremely boggy during prolonged rainfall and created an eyesore with numerous tyre tracks remaining throughout the winter month. After being barked we are now able to drive through this area without leaving any tracks.

Another advantage is that balls will become easier to locate on the bark than they would be in long rough that can't be mown due to damp conditions. This area previously took approx 45 minutes to mow. During the growing season this area grows extremely and its not uncommon to mow this area twice per week so we are effectively now saving 1.5 hours a week in summer in labour that we can use towards other course management needs to improve course playability. Big thanks to the volunteer crew of Sid, John, Les and Jim for spreading the mulch that my staff had strategically placed to make the job that little bit easier.

Mulch area between 7th and 8th hole

With spring just around the corner all tees, greens surrounds and fairways were fertilised and various weeds were sprayed out to create a uniform surface. The fertiliser was applied to kickstart the turf growth for the new season and to compete and eliminate space for undesirable weeds to grow. 

We had another irrigation blowout to contend with last week which caused us to shut down the system to complete the repair. Large tree root issues are very common on our course and in this situation it caused mayhem on our irrigation system. This was a tricky repair mainly attributed to an existing fig tree root that had been growing along the pipe for several years and eventually gave way and cracked. This repair was swiftly completed to ensure irrigation system could return to normal function. Regular works are being undertaken behind the scenes to have the system ready for another summer season.

Tree root growing against pipe finally broke across creek

Thursday, 21 July 2016

It's been a very wet July with 120mm (just shy of 5 inches) of rain falling so far in this month. The water table below the surface is continually rising during winter months as we get more rainfall hence why small amounts of rainfall may seem innocuous, but in reality is detrimental to recovery of turf surfaces.

This month we have been busy focusing on repairing a lot of essential irrigation components underground  that you can't see but are absolutely vital in order to achieve successful surfaces up above in the warmer months! With increasing summer temperatures and an irrigation system getting older and older each year, it is imperative that extensive maintenance is carried out in order to keep it functional. 

Diaphragm valve, ball valve and compression fitting install on a tee, messy work in the pouring rain!

The new 18th tee surrounds have been barked and a garden edge between the path and garden has been made with plants expected to be delivered next week. The turf and soil below is progressing nicely and has been top dressed and fertilised twice in the past 2 weeks to help level the soil and spark some new growth. It should be in play within the next 2 weeks if the weather is kind to us.

New 18th tee's and garden taking shape

We have started construction of a headwall/bridge on the left side of the 18th fairway near the 16th dam. During high rainfall events the 18th fairway becomes flooded and water restricts access in this area, we aim to allow better water flow into the dam and allow easier access over this area. 

Headwall and drainage pipe installed left of 16th dam with free material

With only 5 weeks to go until spring me and the staff are getting excited to commence another growing season and looking forward to continually improving the turf surfaces for all to enjoy! 

With the recent rain periods still fresh on my mind I will leave you with a photo of myself standing on the 5th green completely surrounded by water back in 2010. 

That is me between the two trees standing on the edge of the 5th green, the photo was taken from the bridge at the 17th tee. I was saturated from the hip down getting over there, but the photo made it worthwhile!

Sunday, 3 July 2016

Over the past few weeks my staff have been busy cleaning up the remains of the storm damage earlier in June amongst performing regular maintenance jobs and other construction projects. With the cooler temperatures setting in both in the air and the soil, it has limited turf growth on all surfaces severely which means we reduce our mowing practices to allow for this.

The positive of the last two weeks is that we have had dry weather and more time available to complete different maintenance practices so we are now cutting greens with walk-behind mowers at least twice a week and using the ride-on mowers on the greens on other days. To give you a quick run-down it normally takes 3 hours for one man to cut 18 greens with a ride-on mower compared to it taking 4 men to cut 18 greens with walk-behind mowers in 2.5 hours. Overall it takes over 3 times the amount of labour to cut greens with walk behinds than it does with ride-on mowers! However, walk-behind mowers provide a superior cut promoting quality ball roll, less surface compaction and consistent green speeds so it is a worthwhile practice.

Other jobs that are being completed include:

  • We have commenced manual removal of kikuyu encroachment on greens. You may notice slitting of edges of greens as we physically cut and remove kikuyu runners that are trying to 'creep' into the green. These areas will be re-seeded and top dressed after completion with minimal surface disruption.
  • Some areas on tees that are regularly used and worn have been seeded and top dressed to promote some winter growth. As previously stated in cool conditions like we are experiencing, growth rates of turf drops very rapidly and tee recovery becomes very slow during the winter months. Our tee surfaces that receive minimal sunlight are receiving even less through winter as the sun moves on a lower arc during these times. Thankfully spring is only 7 weeks away!
  • 18th tee surrounds have been sprayed and barking of this area has commenced as of today as our bark piles are finally accessible with machinery after the recent rains. This is scheduled to be completed this week providing no more rain halts our progress. 
  • Commenced construction to extend more tees on the course and improve aesthetics around teeing areas. Currently sourcing more materials to complete these works in-house.
  • Trimming of low branches in the rough areas has commenced with areas between 1-2 and 2-3 being completed. This is a very large job  as we have so many trees so it will be a process that will be carried out one hole at a time. This will ultimately provide more sunlight to areas of rough, open up areas of the course and also allow for easier recovery shots out of the rough.

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

A big shout out to my staff for the spectacular turnaround to get the course in such great condition after the storms. Despite the tough conditions, their dedication to the course shone through and I thank them for their efforts cleaning up. Amongst dealing with debris/flooding, my staff managed to restore all the bunkers and have them back in play for the Foursomes Championships on Saturday which was a truly remarkable effort.

A special mention also to the volunteers that gave up their time during the week by helping to rake up piles of debris from fairways and rough areas. Myself and the staff appreciate your efforts and it definitely helped us to get the course back to normal conditions earlier. With only 6 staff on course (many Sydney courses range from 12-30 staff) having volunteers help out after large storm events is invaluable.

This week has seen us continually tidy up areas as water logging of surfaces decreases and we can get machinery onto more areas of the course without causing damage. Winter is definitely here with the roping off of waterlogged areas needed throughout the course during the cooler months to minimise damage to turf surfaces as well as aiming to keep your socks dry! Please stay away from roped areas and follow directional signs for carts and general traffic to help minimise damage caused throughout the winter season.

Another east coast low has been forecast to hit us this weekend, although I'm hoping that the weatherman is wrong on this one so our golfers won't end up looking like this again!

Sunday, 5 June 2016

Talk about wild weather! It seemed to be brewing all week and boy did it deliver with a dangerous mixture of heavy rainfall and strong winds over the past weekend. After having one of the driest and warmest May's on record, June is shaping to be one of the wettest ever recorded with a total of 232mm of rain falling on the course over the weekend! Last June we only had 130mm recorded over the entire month.

The fallout from this is an extremely wet golf course as well as an extremely messy golf course from the strong winds that accompanied the storm leaving debris from trees scattered throughout the entire cours. As a result the course was closed on Saturday and Sunday due to flooding and is also closed today (6/6/16) and (7/6/16) so that we can begin the large clean-up to get the course back to how it was before the storm. There are still very high wind warnings in place so more damage could follow depending on the weather and how lucky we are.

I am truly devastated by the effects the storm has had on the course, considering how hard my staff have worked to continually keep the course in great condition. We all know mother nature is one hell of a beast but we will bounce back and have the course back in great shape for you all ASAP!

Below are some photos that show the damage left by the weekend's storm to put into perspective why the course is closed. As I am writing this it has just begun raining again, not what we want!!

 2nd fairway flooding

17th bunker flooded

5th fairway flooded and debris on green/fairway

Fallen debris on 12th fairway

Fallen limb 13th tee

Fallen limbs 15th fairway

Tree completely removed from ground 11th tee

Rubbish left on 5th fairway after water subsides