Monday, December 31, 2012

Irrigation Drama's

Last Sunday (30th) a main line ruptured on the front 9

Due to the nature and location of the break( 10m from bore, another 2m and we would have been OK) we are unable to isolate the pipe which means we cannot irrigate any areas on the front 9 with the irrigation system,  to add to our woes we cannot obtain the correct fittings till at least Wednesday 2nd Jan and then we have to slowly pressurise the system which will take time.

As you can imagine with the heat we are having it is cause for concern, temperatures of 34 to 40 degrees combined with low humidity are effectively cooking our turf areas without water.

The greens are our main priority, we are using 600 litre tanks to hand water greens early morning and late evening some tees are being watered in this manner as well. The front 9 fairways will be worst effected as we cannot water these areas as frequent by hand.

You can expect we will endeavour to keep the greens "alive" as a priority, they will be slower as we alternate mow days to relieve some of the mechanical stress placed on the plant and help us get through this very trying time.

You can also expect the tee boxes to be only slightly effected but some browning off may occur.

You can expect the fairways to brown off and " bleach in some areas, they will not look nice at all, the good news is once we have the irrigation system back up and running, recovery will be quick, they were in very healthy condition prior to this and with applications of surfactants they should bounce back pretty quickly. Keep in mind the fairway will have gone 10 days without water by Thursday.

You can help by not driving carts over obvious dry areas, by driving over these areas under water stress you crush the cell structure of the plant causing death to the effected area, please be alert when using carts on the course.

Many thanks to Peter and Mick for their assistance with watering and chasing down contacts, and of course my staff who once again are doing everything they can including altering work hours to overcome what is a major irrigation problem under very hot conditions. 

Add this to our Xmas day dramas and you could say we are having a blow out of a time.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Xmas Curse and the heat is on

The Christmas Curse struck again on Christmas day as it has done for the past 3 years, either a blow out on the back 9 old system or electrical problem on the Front and this year it was the Front 9 Auto system that decided to play Scrooge.

With temps reaching 33 degrees C (91.4 F for our stateside readers) I thought I would take a leisurely drive to the course Xmas night to water some back 9 greens and check the front 9 system, I am undecided weather I am glad I did or not.
One of the Solenoid heads blew off in the Fairway, low pressure activated and no water going or set to go off as a result. Forced to make some running repairs,  a quick rewire and then reset the irrigation programs and the leisurely drive took a few more hours than anticipated on Xmas night. At least I worked off some of the Christmas stuffing to make room for the pudding and had a quick dip to boot. 

Must have been a sixth sense as I wasn't going in till Boxing Day morning, with the heat we are having and low humidity one missed irrigation cycle could have been disastrous so a huge sigh of relief.
Speaking of heat the next 7 days look to be very hot mid to high 30's, we will be taking preventative precautions with the greens so they may run slightly slower over the next week.

I pity the guys in Perth who are looking at least 38 degree days everyday over the next week, good luck guys, if the forecast are accurate it will be a record breaking 7 day period, do we add that to the 2012 "unusual events" list ?.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas

On behalf of the Course Staff I wish all our members, management and directors a very Merry Christmas and safe New Year. May your festive season be filled with family, friends and great memories.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Twas the Week Before Xmas

How many of you find your mail box is getting trashed with shopping catalogues with headlines like "LAST MINUTE GIFT IDEAS" conjuring up images of frantic shoppers racing about with last minute Xmas preparations and gift buying? Same every Xmas isn't it ?

Well just like the reliability of those catalogues hitting your mail box and the frantic shoppers, Golf Course staff across the country will be attending last minute Course Preparations with the Xmas New Year period in mind, Not because we forgot some form of maintenance or anything like that, with the following 2 weeks very disruptive with public holidays, more work is being crammed into this week than any other on any golf course you may visit, along with preventative disease applications and other pest and stress concoctions of varied products to help relieve some of the stress and worry thinking about the course over Xmas and New Year, every Course Superintendent knows with less working days over the coming weeks, time is very restricted to get on top of any problems that may come to pass and so most take a very preventative approach to control the things we can and attempt to control any potential issues arising from those we can't control. Any Greenkeeper would be playing with fire if they haven't at least applied some form of preventative application of products leading into Xmas.

At Capel this year not only are we busy with the above, it is a little busier than previous years as we continue the catch up work we wanted completed over the past few weeks which had to be delayed because of storms, rain etc.

Here's a rundown of works this week.

Couch / Saltene first application control greens.
Preventative Fungicide app Greens
Light foliar fertiliser Greens
Growth Regulator application Greens
Core Tees
Verti cut (scarify) selected tees.
Wetting Agent applied Greens and Tees.
Granular Fertiliser application Tees.
Normal Course mowing and conditioning Greens double cut x3 days
Normal course set up and Competition preps. (Holes, Markers, Bunkers etc).
Greens and Tees mowers Back lapped and serviced.
Manual Irrigation Back 9.
Full test Front 9 Automatic system and rectify faults.

Not a bad effort for the 4 of us.

Lastly each year prior to Xmas I organise a fun day for staff, to thank them for their efforts through  the year and motivate them for the coming year, specially the rest of Summer to come and the hard slog ahead, over the years we have had novelty golf days, Ten Pin Bowling and this year it was down to Busso for some Archery practice,

 Robin Hood and your Merry Men ate our arrows, as we took over Sherwood Forrest.

The last week before Xmas and just like those catalogues and images of frantic shoppers making last minute Xmas preps, Golf Course Staff are doing the same, difference being it is controlled and planned last minute preparations and those Preparations are gift wrapped as your Golf Course.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Soaking It Up

The rain event during the week had the course soaking up 90mm of rain in 36 hrs, just under 6 times our December average and our wettest December for 11 years, while some areas of Bunbury received well over 100mm breaking rainfall records we will settle for the 90mm with a  sight we never see all that much of in December RAIN! I think this one belongs to the growing list of unusual events for 2012, this time though, one I won't complain about, the back 9 fairways were starting to develop the summer look of the inefficient irrigation system and inadequate coverage, the rain will put that look off for a month or so now.

We had a few bunker washouts to repair along with some paths and soil erosion in various areas but other than that some much needed rain was appreciated particularly after recording temperatures over 30c for the 3 days leading up to the rain.

 Prior to the rain constant 20 to 30 km/hr winds made presenting the course difficult, if anyone wants to know why I don't like the white gums on the course the bark they shed says it all.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Saltene and Couch Grass

I thought I would talk about this subject instead of what has been run of the mill course work updates lately, nothing like a bit of variety to keep it fresh...

It is this time of year (summer if you didn't know better) the couch and saltene in the greens become more visible and start to out compete the bent grass. If you have been good students and followed the turf 101's on this blog you would know Bent is a cool season grass preferring cooler temps, Couch and Saltene both warm season grasses preferring hotter temps for optimum growth.

So what happens when the two compete against each other year round ?
During the cooler months,  April through October the Bent grass out competes the Couch and Saltene, the Couch and Saltene are still there just not as pronounced as during the warmer months, thanks to their vigorous rhizomes even tho the bent has control of the top, the couch and saltene are waiting to pounce when warmer temps arrive due to their extensive rhizome systems.
On the other side during those warmer months, November through March the Couch and Saltene have the advantage and out compete the Bent difference being if allowed to go unchecked the couch and saltene would eventually in a rather short period of time completely take over any given area that offers it good growing conditions and crowd out the weaker bent grass.
Lighter colour is Couch
To be straight the only TRUE means of controlling these grasses in Bent grass greens is by physical removal, IE removing the turf and soil profile to at least 150 to 200mm and replacing with uncontaminated material.
At present this option is not viable for us as we do not have a bent nursery at present to resurface greens, eventually our plans are to construct a bent grass nursery primarily for this purpose but is dependent on the back 9 irrigation system upgrade going ahead.

We are not talking about just encroachment from the green perimeters which is the usual problem many courses face, some greens have been extended over many years and now contaminated material is well inside the perimeters of the green.
That said, we do not just let it go, if we did you would be putting on 90% couch grass greens through summer, we do intervene by chemical means to suppress the couch and saltene, options are limited without damaging the bent grass, it is expensive and does take time to make an indent into the colonised areas of Couch and Saltene which have occurred over a very lengthy period of time.

We have a program in place to suppress further encroachment and eventually turn back the tide slowly, using selective herbicides applied at optimum times along with growth regulators and cultural methods but as I said it is a very slow process without resurfacing to reverse the encroachment, when we finally get the go ahead for the irrigation upgrade we will implement a resurfacing program to remove the couch from the worst effected greens.
A smaller nursery area is being considered to use for the 5th which seems to be the worst effected after a green extension some years ago.

I hope this 101 helps you understand the coming couch grass problem in the greens and the long term measures to address it.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Another "Unusual Event"

I wish I was talking about a 3 club golf event or some other unusual novelty golfing event, but no the main topic for the maintenance crew this week was another "unusual weather event".
The cold front associated with the deep low sitting off the coast which swept through the region on Tuesday night, Wednesday and Thursday bringing 85km/hr winds has been officially declared an "unusual event" for this time of year, certainly we do not normally experience this type of weather in the last week of Spring to add to the one in ten year event we experienced back in in June and a few other "unusual events" along the way this year......Does this make it an "Unusual" year ?

 (Pictures courtesy of Ben ) yes my camera is still on the blink.

 As for the impact on the course, we escaped any major damage however we did lose another 4 trees, and the small debris over the course was a mess, the main problem course maintenance wise is the loss of 3 days of planned work scheduled, through the storm and the clean up, however I am happy to say that by Friday afternoon little evidence of the mess remain. So much so a visiting player late Friday went out of his way to approach a staff member complimenting him on the condition of the course, if he had seen the course on Thursday morning he probably would not have played at all !!!!!
Once again the staff came up with the goods, changing work hours to suit the course so we could have maximum time cleaning up the small debris. In many aspects small debris spread over the course is more of a challenge than major trees down, cleaning up small debris is more time consuming, we do not have equipment like allot of golf courses where we can use a turf VAC or turbine blower to clear the course, instead we have just one outfront mower which we put to use but with so much of the course effected it takes a considerable amount of time to complete. 
After spending all day Thursday clearing the trailer size branches (it was useless putting the outfront to work Thursday due to the winds remaining above 40km/hr...sort of like peeing against the wind), We arranged work hours differently for Friday, Between the 4 of us we had the outfront running continuously from 4.30am through to 7pm Friday night, and like last weeks smooth sailing, anyone playing on the weekend will be asking................................. What storm ? and that feels great!

The lost planned work will now have to be completed next week which puts off the tee renovations and the second of the 16th mound construction which were to begin next wed and Thursday.

Below are some of the work we wanted to complete this week which had to be postponed -

Completing the Front 9 Bunker edges - Back 9 finished Front 9 were scheduled for Thursday.
Finish spraying Back 9 roughs - was scheduled for Wednesday afternoon.
Fertilising all carries and Practice area - Was scheduled for Thursday.
Greens Grooming (light verti cut) - Was scheduled for Friday
Repair work to 6th toilet pipes.
Fairway mowing - Was Thursday / Friday
Commencing last Bush cut for fire season preps.
Plus a number of other routine maintenance which usually is attended  Wednesday / Thursday / Friday, as you can see these "unusual events" do cause unseen maintenance headaches.

At least with the 20mm of rain we could turn the irrigation pumps off....Now that is an UNUSUAL EVENT heading into summer.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

One of those weeks

I should have known it was going to be one of those weeks when my phone I use to take most of the pictures you see on the blog decided to call it a day on Monday, alas no pics this week.

Two back 9 irrigation blow outs, Fairway cutting units heating up, requiring grinding, Staff absence through being sick and then a flat battery on the tractor due to a switch being left on, a power surge shutting the front 9 irrigation computer down not once but twice and yep happy days, was glad to see Friday come and go.

This is the frustration you never see, if you think maintaining a golf course is smooth sailing, your kidding yourself, these type of weeks can and do happen, we deal with it, do the best we can and hopefully by the end of the week your average player cant see what you went through to get the course as it is, hopefully they are kidding themselves thinking it was smooth sailing, because if they are, then you know you have done your job, but more so you know you fixed the problems you were facing, and that is what this week was all about.

With all that out the way, some updates.............
The 16th mounds will be in play within 2 to 3 weeks, the stolon area just short of the green is taking strike and will remain GUR for at least 4 to 6 weeks. We will not commence the green side mound until the forward mounds are in play. A drop zone is in play and has been extended in size to address some member complaints that they were being unfairly penalised by having to drop in the previous zone.

The practice Chipping green continues to develop the green tinge, some reseeding will be necessary due to wash outs and other issues. We are still looking at a decent grass cover by 8 weeks.

Irrigation is now in full swing, as can be seen with power surges and blow outs, the manual irrigation on the back 9 will now start to eat into available time to attend other works and soon with December fast approaching and the dog days of Summer, Most of our days will be spent irrigating, mowing and covering all hours for the manual irrigation.

Tee renovations will commence after the event being held on the 5th December.

That's all for now, preparing for another week to come and whatever that may hold.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Works Update

Some quick news from the past 2 weeks.
The greens have made a fantastic return from renovations; we have been cutting at 3mm for the last week and a half. A light grooming will be carried out shortly.

The chipper was seeded last week; we should have a green tinge soon.
The material from the fairway verti cutting may not take in on the 16th work area, unfortunately there was a considerable delay between verti cutting the fairways and clean up, meaning the stolons dried allot more than we wanted. For a good strike trying to grow from stolons they should not be allowed to dry out. We will allow another week or so, if minimal amounts of stolons take we will turf the area.

The fairways have had wetting agent, gypsum and fertiliser applied.
The remainder of this week is being spent conditioning the course for Fridays Ladies Invitation day.

Thank you.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Mutual Benefit and the Crazziness Continues

During the week a perfect win / win scenario, Phil Cahill wanted to turn some of his back lawn into a garden and we needed some turf to complete the mounds on 16, we took our turf cutter, Phil now has an area to plant and we have a mound turfed.

 We chalked up yet another crazy busy week, on top of the turfing of the 16th mound and normal course set up etc, the front 9 fairway renovations were completed.

 We used some of the material removed to stolons (chaffing) the walkway area on 16, the chipper bank and 3rd mound area rotary hoeing in.
Scroll cutting fairways helped remove extra green leaf material.

 The greens have come back very strongly from renovations and now being cut at 4mm we should be at 3mm by the end of next week.

 Happy to see the weekend but we are not finished the craziness yet, next week we finally put the finishing touches to the chipping green, adding amendments and seeding, the second of the mounds on 16 gets a start and we have a great deal of catch up work to get through.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Overdue Update

I apologise for not updating the blog over the past 2 weeks and more so not updating about renovations. As I have mentioned in previous posts we are in the midst of a very busy maintenance period and to top it off I have been spending a considerable amount of my own time completing risk assessments. Anyone who has ever been involved with the process knows it can be a lengthy process. I digress and move on with the update.
Green Renovations

Went very smoothly and the greens are coming back in great condition. We gave them the first cut on Wednesday afternoon, we were so impressed we will be lowering the heights for the Friday afternoon cut. This weekend will be the worst as far as pace and smoothness for ball roll  is concerned as we are at a higher height of cut and only mowing afternoons so not to pick up wet sand as we mow. Next week we will further lower the heights and commence morning mows.

Practice Chipper
The root zone sand as been loaded levelled and we are watering to help settle, before adding amendments. Anthony is at TAFE this week and next so I am leaving the amendments till he returns for his experience before we seed.
16th Mound / Sandbunker
 One less bunker to worry about !!!!
Improvement works to the 16th surrounds commenced this week, as you know 2 mounds are being constructed, the 1st replacing the short right side bunker and the 2nd to the right of the green. This work will greatly improve the wear problem experienced around the right side green. We will also be rotary hoeing the non mound area.

The first step was to fill the bunker, we have started mounding that section, and again with only the tractor to use it will take some time to get the amount of sand we need for the height of the mound. Having said that we should have the mound close to finish and the turf cut for the mound laid back down by Friday afternoon.
The next step will be rotary hoeing the existing walkway area, raising the levels slightly and chaffing the area (explained below).

Once that is complete we will start mounding the 2nd mound.
Front 9 Fairway Renovations
If we are not busy enough the front 9 Fairway renovations will start on Monday, verti cutting, cleaning up and scrolling fairways will be hopefully completed by Wednesday afternoon. We will beusing some of the material from the verti cutting to chaff the 16th walkway and chipping green banks.  

Chaffing is another method to establish couch grass, the material from verti cutting is kept moist and basically top dressed over bare ground before being lightly rotary hoed in, rolled and watered. We will hopefully have a nice coverage 6 weeks later.

 A long Post but your now up-to-date, oh and fairway irrigation has started, so if you are tired after reading all this imagine how we are doing. We still managed to fit a BBQ in to officially welcome Ben to the staff and congratulate Anthony before he attended his last TAFE block. Of course the tradition continued for the new staff initiation, cooking the onions as Ben found out.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Changes Arrivals and Renovations

First of all congratulations to Anthony for being promoted to the 2IC position, just reward for his efforts over the past 4 years, I am sure he will continue the fine work he has accomplished in his new role and I look forward to assisting his transition to the next stage of his career.
 Today we also welcomed Ben to the staff, Ben successfully applied for the vacant apprentice position and we give him a warm welcome to the staff. Ben isn’t a new face around the place, he has volunteered through school holidays as well as after school for the past 2 years and was of great assistance through the storm clean up, many members know him for his hard work ethics and courtesy he has shown. 
Two fine young men and I congratulate both, I am now leading a relatively inexperienced staff however with Dean’s and myself experience, combined with youth we could have the perfect balance, though  I am sure there will be issues that arise in the short term, however with  inexperience also comes youth and that “fire in the belly” to get stuck in and make the most of it, which rubs off on us old fellas. 
Speaking of fires, and it will be a baptism of fire for Ben and Anthony in their new roles,

Renovation time is upon us and today we Hallow cored the back 9 green approaches, clean off and picked up, tomorrow after the ladies we will be double verti cutting the greens and cleaning up, Thursday hallow coring the front 9 green approaches and aerating the back putter along with a sanding, then comes the big one starting Saturday afternoon, (no the AFL Grand Final was last weekend, those Sydney fella’s teaching an AFL lesseon hey), Greens renovation and sanding, at which point we will also be sanding the green approaches as well, from 3.30pm Saturday with the main work Sunday.
If they didnt know what greenkeepings about before they will after this week.

More information on why we renovate can be found on the FAQ page and I would also like to answer a question we may be asked before we are asked….. We didn’t core the struggling section on the right side of 16 green as we are close to commencing construction of the new mound areas and rehabilitating the area tho we did core the approach and left side. 

That’s the week ahead, a busy one with a fair bit of work to get through, thankfully back at full staff so just extremely busy not flaming hectic, fingers crossed the weather is kind and only drops some moisture in the evening.
Cheers Max.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Capel 3000 organised and flexible

The past 2 weeks has been all about this weekend’s Capel 3000, I think I have covered enough of what we do for these type of events previously in the blog not to bore you with the details once again, as you’re playing you will notice the great condition the course is in, suffice to say it has been an incredibly busy period and once again I thank the staff and volunteers who have helped prepare the course for this weekend’s event.

The last week hasn’t been the smoothest of lead up weeks we have had, with different factors out of our control playing havoc with our plans, Members comps on Tuesday and Thursday, the Ladies 36hole 4’s champs on Wednesday and the extra competition on Friday as the warm up for the 3000 made sure we were working very flexible hours around these events in order to complete the course conditioning,. Along with these events we received 27mm rain through the week, even some small hail, some machinery hiccups and also still short staffed,( soon to be rectified) we overcome all these issues through being organised yet flexible.

As the title suggests, this what I mean when you hear me say we need to be extremely organised due to the small staff size to know what where and when and who of the works to do, yet very flexible in the way we attack things for if not, either competition rounds are disrupted or some works do not get done. We are fortunate to have a staff at present who do not mind the chopping and changing of work hours to suit the golf course and not themselves.

For a bit of colour the wild flowers on 16 are flowering.

Stay tuned early next week for some updates on staff news and reminders for our renovations.
Good luck to all playing in the Capel 3000,  enjoy.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Spring has Sprung

Had to do a quick re think with this post, I had planned to use a few photo's from my phone of all things Spring, hopefully not a sign of things to come but the phone is at the shop under warranty repair and so are the photo's.............

Spring has sprung and I wish I could say the work has too, but in reality the staff have been hard at it all winter in one of the busiest yet, with the unprecedented storm damage back in June and being 1 staff down for the whole period, it is basically just a continuation from last summer.
The next 6 to 8  weeks are set to be even crazier with renovations, ( greens tees and front 9 fairways), the chipping green construction, 16th mound construction just to name a few on top of normal course work which includes increased mowing frequencies now the grass is starting to grow, and the irrigation side of things. Actually in some sick and weird way I am looking forward to it!!!
During this time, as many know I do the blog in my own time, with increased odd hours being spent on the course and balancing that with family I can’t guarantee the blog will be updated regularly though I will try as best I can.
Last week we finally managed to get on the course to spray all the broadleaf weeds ending a frustrating 4 week period waiting for suitable weather conditions for spraying on days we could spray with no competitions. We look at a number factors before we spray, temperature, humidity, wind speed etc and whether those conditions are suitable, we also take into account the products,  the products used needed at least 4 hours of dry weather after application, 4 hours of dry weather, plus the time it takes to load up and spray, we needed the crystal ball to look 8 hours into the future, over the weeks prior to last week, on available spray days, the weather was threatening, the forecast models predicting rain within  that time and dry conditions could not be guaranteed, so delays were the norm.....then as you would expect no rain would come, we growl and get on with it,  it is better safe than sorry.
Just another quick point, we sprayed the fairways and roughs with different products, the fairways for broadleaf weeds and the roughs for those weeds plus areas of Guildford grass, the product used for the roughs is much slower acting so there will be a difference in the sprayed areas for a limited time, giving the impression we sprayed some areas and not others.

We also finished the practice bunker, added peat to the base of the chipping green and rotary hoed in, fenced the area to keep the roos out and settled the area ready for the sand load up. We are aiming to have the green ready for seeding by the end of the month, and just a reminder it is taking a while, we are still 1 staff down and the course takes priority, we are working on the chipper as time permits.
We started preparations for the upcoming Capel 3000, bush mowing which will continue over the next week or so, bunker edging will be carried out this week as well and we also intend on grooming (light verti cut) the greens to have them nice and slick for the 3000. That should just leave us with course conditioning in the week leading up to the event.

Lastly a quick update on the miracle 4000 riders, they are in the home stretch crossing the NSW / SA border last Friday. Amazing they have not had a rest day and they are still standing. Hopefully the same can be said for the staff after the next couple of months are finished.

Till next time keep swinging.