Welcome to the Capel Golf Club's Course Maintenance Dept. We hope to give an insight into maintenance activities, share up to date course news and course care tips for members, guests and visitors.
The fairway renovations were completed last Wednesday. They were verti cut in 2 directions, scroll cut twice and a huge amount of thatch removed. Over 150 cubic meters of material was removed, the fairways may look ordinary at the moment as warned, however a necessary job as explained previously. We expect a recovery time of 4 to 6 weeks.
Fertilising was carried out today, sprinkler trimming and leveling irrigation line furrows will be undertaken during the remainder of this week.
With the fairway in great shape, I keep asking myself why oh why are you still planning on ripping them up and then having a long recovery period before they are back in the same condition ? The answer is the same, if it isn't done, I know through the remainder of summer it will be next to impossible to keep the fairways in the condition they are in now.
Why is it that you ask ? The thatch layer I have referred to when talking of the greens renovations is the main culprit and target for the Fairway renovations. Wintergreen Couch is a phenomenal grower and thatches up naturally very quickly, under high maintenance regimes this is more so. Generally at around 15mm to even 20mm is acceptable, any higher and if nothing is done, trouble is just around the corner. Thatch as I have said before is the layer of dead and growing matter between the green leaf and soil, at 15mm or below in depth it is beneficial as it helps out compete weeds and helps retain soil moisture through warmer months. Over 20mm and this layer starts to restrict air movement into the soil and also acts like a sponge holding the moisture within the thatch layer and not infiltrating to the soil below. This leads to active roots remaining in this thatch layer, through hot weather the layer heats up and cooks the roots, with no or minimal active roots in the soil, or moisture, turf health suffers and large brown areas develop as a result. Excess Thatch also is a perfect place for Diseases and insect pest to populate rapidly. At present soil plugs show we have in places 50mm of thatch tho 40mm in the most part and enough to believe that renovations are required to prevent a downward spiral of the fairway conditions through summer.
This plug is a perfect sample of thatch. The lighter colour on top (60mm) is the thatch and the darker colour the soil.
Ideally I would love to Aerate and verti cut the fairways, however we must live within our means and so with the course we must maintain within a budget. The verti cutting will reduce thatch, and we plan to scroll cut at a lower height than normal fairway heights to reduce it more so. The front 9 fairways will be severely disrupted and recovery may take some 4 to 6 weeks. During the process on non competition days individual holes maybe closed and some disruption on comp days should be expected. The process may take 3 to 4 days to complete and I have been informed the contractor cannot make a start till the afternoon on Monday, due to circumstances beyond their control. Please check the notice board before play, as the match committee may decide to invoke Preferred lies on affected fairways.
The green staff apologies for the disruption to play, but appreciate your understanding of the importance of this work. Thank you.
Finally some decent falls, some good soaking rain 53mm in total fell on the course over 2 days alleviating some pressure with water use. The rain will save us some 6Mg of water possibly 10 if the cool weather persists.
Something we haven't seen for a while..........Water views from the shed!!!!!!
The rain didn't stop us working, we took the opportunity to carry machine maintenance and sharpening of all cylinder mowers to keep the cut at the highest quality.
As well as the machine maintenance and sharpening we also took the opportunity the finish fertilising all areas not already done so, from Green and Tees surrounds and Roughs to some Fairways.
All part of the maintenance to get the course looking like this.
The course is in great shape at the moment, I would go so far to say it is peaking in condition and will do so for the next few weeks before we start the Front 9 Fairway renovations which will be disruptive to playing surfaces. I will in the next Post, next week, describe the process the reasons why we need to do so, specially when the Fairways look great at the moment.
Enjoy playing the course, it really is in top condition.
In greenkeeping it can at times be difficult when dealing with factors outside your control, and there are many, so you concentrate on the factors that are. Its good for you, and good for staff moral when they can see the end result of all the hard work put in. That's the beauty of this trade, for all the work you put in and comes undone through outside influences, there are plenty more instances where you can see why you love the job.
The greens have come back very quickly from Reno's, they are in healthy condition and looking great. They are being cut at 3mm with double cutting this week. They may still be a little off pace as strong growth continues from the fert applied over the reno period, this will subside as we lay off the Nitrogen component and return to our normal nutrient maintenance practices.
The tees are also in great condition after renovations, plenty of growth recovering wear areas. Anthony taking great pride in his stripes as he sees the fruits of his labour over the reno period.
The heavily shaded tees are naturally taking a little longer.
The hydrophobic soil conditions in the fairways were treated last week, it will not be the only occasion it is required this season however for the moment we are relieved to see some moisture in the profile. The plug is the same plug shown last post as dusty and dry.
And another Pest!
Black beetle adults brought to the surface in a section of the 18th suspected of activity.
All greens and some sections of fairways were sprayed for Black beetle larvae, adults and Stem weevil larvae and adults. Both pests can cause serious damage and of particular concern are Stem weevils in greens which can "eat out" a bent grass green in little time. Adult monitoring gives a good indication for spray timing to prevent larvae damage to turf before it is to late. Cost prohibit the fairways being sprayed completely and other cultural practices take precedence.
Also this week we are spraying out early post emergent / pre emergent control for crab grass and some late Bindi control which germinated after our timed broadleaf weed control in September. All tees, Fairways and Tee to Fairway roughs will be sprayed. For this reason the Tees and Fairways may look a bit tacky as we lay off the cutting till the end of the week to give the herbicide time to work before mowing takes place.
Its never ending but well worth the results when achieved.
At recent green committee meetings I have harped on about the lack of winter rainfall and the potential consequences we could experience as a result. In the main, I have focused on the added pressure, with a 4 week earlier start to irrigation than average, on our water allocation particularly towards the back end of the season. Combined with the earlier start we are also contending with the need to increase usage above that normally used as the dry weather continues through Spring. We are limiting usage where we can, carefully monitoring consumption and will balance the levels over the course of the irrigation season.
The other consequence of this drier than average weather pattern, is the development of Hydrophobic soil conditions or water repellent soils, in basic terms a situation where a soil will not wet regardless of the amount of water applied. Generally we experience this problem at some point through the summer season, on all turf areas to varying degrees, West Australian sands are among the most susceptible in the country to developing Hydrophobic conditions, particularly in areas of poor sprinkler coverage, or open exposed areas.
In small areas such as greens and tees applications of wetting agents in advance of any surface symptoms takes place as a normal maintenance procedure, the renovation period where coring is undertaken, humus added also helps with the prevention of this. On large scale areas such as fairways, due to costs, we treat as required, this usually is in the form of one application roughly timed around the beginning to mid summer and then spot spraying patches if they develop. De thatching the fairways, tho 2nd yearly due to costs also plays a role in addressing this problem.
This season we are already experiencing the water repellent conditions in the fairways, some 2 months earlier than average, below are two pictures illustrating the effect of Hydrophobic soil.
Both pictures were taken after 15mm of irrigation was applied, only 2m separated the location of the plugs.
This plug,left, has moisture to the depth of the plug, the surrounding turf is green and healthy.
The plug is dusty dry, no moisture at all, the surrounding turf is yellow, showing signs of stress, weak and thin as a result.
Soil water repellency is caused through the production of complex organic acids during the decomposition of organic matter. These acids are wax like substances that form a coating over soil particles which repel water. Some diseases and insect pests also excrete a wax like substance with the same result.
Water has strong cohesive forces, (water molecules are strongly attracted to themselves, a droplet) and adhesive forces, ( attraction of water to other surfaces which causes the water to spread out) By using soil surfactants, (non ionic wetting agents), we accomplish 2 outcomes, we reduce the surface tension of the water (the cohesive force) and increase the adhesive force with the hydrophilic compounds (water loving) in the wetting agent coating the soil particles.
On large scale turf areas, this can be costly, hence why we are very stringent with its use large scale. Over the next week we will be applying wetting agents to Fairways to improve the hydrophobic conditions experienced at present.
Works to the 3rd green surrounds was completed this week despite loosing some time to repairing a main line break on the back 9 caused by tree roots. The offending tree roots and tree were removed.
Getting back to the 3rd, all work was carried out by staff, the turf was cut from the surrounds and set aside for laying later, sand from the 4th pit used to create the mounding and extra turf cut from the practice fairway to cover the area. The green will now have a 1m collar before sloping off rectifying the problem of balls being putt of the green with the sharp and sudden drop that was. The area will be G.U.R till establishment.
In other news, the greens were given their first cut after Reno's last Monday at 6mm and have been cut everyday since, we will gradually lower the height over the next week and should be 4mm next weekend, 3mm the week after.
The tees are recovering well from the renovations to them and both greens and tees should be in great condition in 3 weeks.
Fairway fertiliser application will be carried out this week starting Sunday afternoon on the back 9, with the manual irrigation system it is critical we allow enough time for irrigating the fairways after application hence why the need to start on Sunday arvo.
Hello Everyone, Today capped off a huge past 4 weeks for staff with completion of the tee and surrounds renovations with the top dressing of these areas. Prior to this we had the successful preparations for the Capel 3000 and the extra attention to detail given to the course for a major event with the course presented in great fashion. We then had a week where only Anthony and myself were on duty, before the greens renovation this past weekend and followed up this week with the coring of all the tees, bunker surrounds, walkways and the Practice tee and top lawn area. On top of this, the unusually dry warm weather through Winter has continued through September meaning an earlier than expected start to irrigation of the course. With the manual system on the back 9 still in operation, time had to be devoted to this critical part of course operations which wasn't expected when finalising the works program 6 months ago. During this month we have farwelled Geoff, who you would all know was employed in place and till the appointment of an apprentice ( no one knew it would take near on 3 years to do so at the time), we thank Geoff for his efforts over the past 3 years and certainly since my arrival has proved a valuable member of staff. Our best Wishes to him and he will be missed. A BBQ was held this past Wednesday with staff and some regular volunteers to say thanks. On a lighter note, Jimmy and partner Jess welcomed a new baby girl to their family and our congratulations and best wishes to them as they start to realise having 2 kids under 3 means some sleepless nights but Jimmy don't worry, wait till those two baby girls are teenagers and then I am sure there will be ALLOT of sleepless nights by you. So as you can see the past 4 weeks have been varied and hectic but as Tim Shaw says on those infomercials, "But Wait, Theres More", next week we start the 3rd green surrounds improvement works. This work will take longer to complete as a result of the irrigation requirements for the course and the commencement of split shifts for staff to cover the manual irrigation as per norm. It should still be completed within the week and the area will be fenced ( roos) and G.U.R till established. That's it for this week happy golfing.
This week we have cored all Tees, Walk ways and most Surrounds using our small corer. Verti cutting of the worst "thatched up tees" is progressing. Fertilising, amendments and Top dressing will be completed By Friday.
With our biennial greens renovation fast approaching I thought I would answer some common questions we receive by players at this time of year.
Without getting technical, there are a number of reasons why we renovate the greens, to relieve compaction, to get air into the profile, reduce any thatch build up and to add soil amendments when the greens are open from coring. To be blunt if we didn’t, the greens would deteriorate in condition and eventually die. Further explanations follow.
Why Core ?
Like so many things, the quality of a good putting green is more than skin deep. In fact, the condition of a green has a lot to do with what goes on below the surface. In order to keep grass growing at 3mm you have to have deep, healthy roots. Good roots demand oxygen. In good soil, they get the oxygen from tiny pockets of air trapped between soil and sand particles.
Over time, the traffic from golfers' feet (as well as heavy mowing equipment) tends to compact the soil under the putting green. When soil becomes compacted, the air pockets on which the roots depend are crushed, and the roots are essentially left gasping for air. Without oxygen, the grass plants will wither and die.
Is there any other reason ?
Yes another reason to renovate is for thatch. Thatch is the layer of dead, decaying matter between the green leaf and the soil, if left unchecked, the greens become spongy, soft and slow. The turf also suffers, as this layer acts like a sponge remaining constantly wet, water movement to the soil below is restricted and the roots of the turf tend to remain in the thatch layer. During warmer weather this leads to premature water stress as the thatch dries out sometimes with the turf dying completely. Excessive thatch also provides ideal conditions for Diseases and Pests to grow and spread.
We always used to pull the core out now we just punch holes with solid tines why?
The results from soil sampling show our greens have an organic matter content of just 0.5% where the recommended range is 3 to 5%, further testing also shows the movement of water through the green sand profile is between 5 and 10 times that of the recommended rate. This is a result of using native virgin sands to fill the core holes over a long period of time without adding amendments, effectively removing the limited humus in the greens and replacing it with coarse straight sand.
By using solid tines in conjunction with soil amendments we can speed up the process of increasing the organic matter content, micro organism activity and slowing the movement of water through the profile enough so that we still get good drainage and air pockets but without the premature wilting of turf through lack of moisture caused by excess drainage.
In saying that, we do need to be mindful of creating a layer of organic matter. As we are approaching a more manageable level we will be alternating the use of solid tines and Hallow tines set slightly deeper than the solids ( pulls the core out of the green) in future.
Adding of Soil Amendments – Each renovation period we conduct soil sampling, amendments to be applied are governed by the test results. We pay close attention to PH levels, Calcium and Magnesium levels, Potassium levels and minor nutrients. It is the most effective time to apply these amendments when the greens are open from Aeration. We also apply products which encourage beneficial micro organism activity.
Topdressing – Top dressing fills the core holes, for a smooth finish once rubbed in, dilutes excess thatch and provides the air pockets spoken of earlier.
I hope you have found this informative so the next time you are playing on renovated greens, you will know, we didn’t renovate to make your round unpleasant, just a relatively small inconvenience for some long term gain.
We will be trialling a new liquid fertiliser product for fairways this season. By using liquid rather than soluble fertilisers as we have done in the past to supplement the granular fertiliser applications, we will be able to reduce the time taken for refill as we won’t have to dissolve the fertiliser at mixing. This can take anywhere between 30 minutes to 45 minutes depending on the product used before heading out to continue applying the fertiliser.
With only a 600L boom we generally have to refill 6 times to complete the Fairway areas only. This then means we have to spread the application out over 3 mornings as we don’t want to be spraying in the heat of the day or disrupt play.
Unlike the soluble products where we need to mix with water and spray the mixture at 300L per hectare due to having to dilute the product, the liquid alternative only requires a maximum 20 to 30L of water per hectare. Therefore, not only do we save time with not having to dissolve the fertiliser at filling, we can also cover more area with 1 tank load, i.e. we can cover all the fairways with 2 tanks.
We will evaluate the trial by recording growth response, Colour response and longevity of the product after application. The cost comparison per application and labour time will also influence the outcome to continue.
Why use a foliar type fertiliser?By applying foliar fertilisers we can avoid surge growth which is not beneficial to turf, builds thatch and can lead to leaching. If the trial proves effective we will be able to apply smaller amounts of nutrients regularly, for balanced sustainable growth.
Foliar fertilisers do not require watering in, with the back 9 still on manual irrigation, it can take 3 days to water the fairways.
The last of the sprinklers for additional coverage of green surrounds on the front 9 were installed this week in time for the coming Irrigation season. The areas highlighted last season as requiring extra coverage will not have the problem of drying out as they did and will allow us to further improve the irrigation of greens with more precise amounts applied, rather than having to irrigate the greens for extra time just so the surrounds could get some more water.
All the installation was undertaken by course staff, including the Valve in Head sprinklers which required wiring into the system. The same Toro DT series sprinklers were used with smaller nozzles as the rest of the front 9 with varying circle arcs from 180 to 270 degrees to cover surrounds. Using the same model sprinklers uniformly across the course means less parts need to be on hand. The installation required cutting into the green line pipe, fittings glued for the Sprinkler take offs, wiring in the decoders to the main wire path and then inputting the data into the Site Pro central Controller. All sprinklers were then tested for performance and passed with flying colours.
We had two surprise visitors yesterday. Two baby ducks strolled into the maintenance shed, unfortunately an hour long search failed to locate the mother. Good news is Geoff is part of the volunteer Wildlife Rescue and took them under his wing (see pic) until they were found a home at the local Vet to be hand reared and released when they get older.
Must have been wildlife day because later a possum was rescued from the skip bin!!!!
The Front Entrance and Driveway improvements are nearing completion, the old overgrown garden beds have been removed, made smaller for ease of maintenance and mulched. New Poles now align the Drive in and give a much better approach to the course. We will turf the now bare area of the old garden bed when the growing season is underway.