Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Weather Update

It has been a week since the high temperatures forced some alterations to our normal routines with extra precautions being taken with the greens, there are some thin areas and weak patches caused from the last grooming a few weeks ago, but in general they are holding up well. I have no doubt that if we hadn't implemented the changes we would have been looking at a number of lost areas and once again I congratulate the members for their understanding of what we are trying to achieve, or should I say avoid.

This week Temperatures are forecast to be cooler around the lower 30's except for Tues and Wednesday where once again the mercury is set to climb to 38. It appears wind will be our main enemy this week particularly in the early part.
With the ladies major event of the year, The Summer Cup fast approaching, we will be focusing on slowly laying the foundations to peak the greens for the 2 day event while guarding them against the heat stress referred to in the last post. It will be a delicate balancing act, but we are confident of success.

You may have noticed some "browning off" on the back of some tees over the past week, mainly on the outside of the sprinkler pattern, this is the negative impact of row type sprinkler patterns, you will notice the area between sprinklers is healthy and well grassed while the area outside the last sprinkler is struggling, under extreme weather conditions of heat and wind, the uniformity of water application is inconsistent. It is why when the 2nd stage of the auto irrigation system finally goes ahead the tees will have more sprinklers in a triangular pattern which will eliminate this problem. The areas affected are being treated and are being given supplementary water application with stand hoses temporarily till we extend the coverage and add an extra sprinkler or two in these areas.

Sunday, January 29, 2012


The top 5 reasons a green keeper knows it's bloody hot ........

5) - The irrigation pressure light comes on, the irrigation shuts down and all because of a melted contact switch !

4) - The greenstaff request separate break times...  !!

3) - Drenched in sweat..... Skin feels like it's burning at 50 degrees........Only problem is he is the shed fixing the irrigation controller and its 11pm at NIGHT!!!

2) - He turns the cold water tap on, only to have to wait 10 minutes so he doesn't burn himself !

And the number 1 reason a Green keeper knows it's bloody hot is............................................

1) - He starts to sweat when he is Hand Watering !!!!!!!!!!

ha ha
Sorry just the lighter side of some shed banter when conditions are pushing you to the limit.

I will update the serious stuff tomorrow after taking a couple of pics.

Thursday, January 26, 2012


 On course temperatures between 38 degrees and 41 degrees have been recorded over the last few days and the predictions are it is set to continue over the next week, please read and encourage your fellow members to take note of a few important points at this time.

If your playing over the next week or so while temperatures are nudging towards 40 degrees, (first I would say you are certainly dedicated to your game), seriously tho you may notice a few precautions being taken with the greens during the heat we don't usually do at other times, to protect against loss of turf through heat stress.

Some measures that may impact your round that you may come across that you don't normally and the reasons for them are below -

Syringing greens during the day, between 1.30pm and 4pm - ( a very light handwater to cool the greens down during the hottest part of the day)
Reason - If the bent grass gets to hot under these conditions the plant can basically shut down restricting the normal transpiration and cooling effect this has, the result is what is referred to as midday wilt. By syringing the greens we aim to provide a little relief and cooling effect and avoid the "shut down effect".

Morning Spot handwatering - Sprinklers to irrigate greens will still be used, morning handwatering will ensure areas requiring a little extra water, IE slopes etc will receive extra water if needed and areas where sufficient moisture already exists do not receive excess water.

Greens will not be cut on Non Comp days, Friday and Sunday will  be non cut days.
Reason - Avoid mechanical injury and reduce wear on high wear areas which then thin and become weak with less tolerance to heat stress.

Depending on how long temperatures remain over 36 degrees, we may decide to raise the heights slightly more than we have already for summer.
Reason - Give the turf a little more leaf area to aid in transpiration.

Delaying the grooming (verti cutting) and topdressing program presently running till favourable weather conditions return.
Reason - Once again these measures can cause injury, weaken the plant at a time when it is already under stress from heat / moisture loss, the result is often at best weak struggling turf or at worst, loss of turf. 

The course maintenance team are taking these measures with the best interest of the long term health of the greens in mind. The greens may run a little slower during this period and you may come across staff, hoses in hand, when playing, rest assured we are not deliberately trying to ruin your round, rather doing everything we can in our control to preserve the greens in a healthy condition through very hot conditions.
Staff have been advised and trained to avoid getting between competition groups but at times this maybe unavoidable. 

Some other non critical works may not be attended, to cover for the extra time spent handwatering etc

Thank you for your understanding
Max Suckling
Course Superintendent.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Trial Dust in Program

Most members would be aware during the last half of summer we are trialling a monthly dust in program with the objective to increase green speed while still cutting at our increased summer cutting heights and to keep the greens in healthy condition. 
Today we have completed the first of the "dust ins", and will be evaluating the results over the next few months.
We will be monitoring green speeds and comparing results to speeds when only mowing and double cutting is used and then again to when we "Groom"the greens, ( a light verti cut).
Turf health will be monitored with general appearance of the surface, visible stress signals and root growth measured.
I plan to post these results on the blog as well as update the course committee as we progress.

During summer there are a number of stresses placed on the green's bent grass, being a cool season grass,( IE it favours growth in spring and autumn), heat and moisture stress are prime concerns  along with increased disease and pest susceptibility. The height of cut is just one of a number of factors which can contribute to weakening the turf and if not balanced against the turf health can tip the greens over the edge with severe consequences.
It is one reason we do not lower the cut through summer and the greens may be a foot or so slower than at other times of the year.

Just grooming the greens, chasing green speeds can damage the crown of the plant, (growth point), and lead to thin weak growth, susceptible to many diseases, pests and premature wilting.

In an effort to meet member expectations through summer in regards to green speed and also "keep the greens, green" by  trialling the dust in program, we hope to protect the crown of the plant from damage, avoid weakening the turf by mechanical injury caused through verti cutting or cutting to low and gain green speed by less invasive measures. 

Should the trial prove beneficial over the next few months consideration will be given to implementing a monthly dust in program from spring renovations through to autumn renovations each year. As we do not have the necessary equipment on hand, we do need to hire the equipment needed and any benefits of the program must be balanced against the available budget.

In future we are also looking at trialling rolling the greens, and a combination of all of the above, the implementation of these programs depend on the available budget.

In short, we cant just chase green speeds through summer just because we want them, we must provide a solid foundation from which to work from that does not compromise the turf health.

Sunday, January 1, 2012


I have been asked a few times this week, what has happened to the back 9 fairways, basically how did they get from something like this ........                            To This.......                                                                                                           
before Xmas
after Xmas
With the manual water system on the back 9, no watering of Fairways could occur over the extended Xmas period and combined with the length of time it takes to complete a full cycle of manual watering it means some areas go for 6 to 7 days without irrigation so dry patch areas of brown grass occur naturally as a response. 
It is a time where the benefits of the automatic irrigation system on the front 9 are very obvious, with the front 9 still in great condition.

The other main reason the fairways have browned off considerably is the from the use of a post emergent herbicide used to control Crab grass. With pre emergent herbicides having a lesser effect on the back 9 compared to the front, simply from the ability to water in the chemical soon after application to where it should be, post emergent control is necessary on the back 9 and not the front.
The herbicide used turns everything a white / brown colour,including the couch, (hence the colour of the B9 fairways) as a result of photo toxicity. Further, it is recommended that irrigation does not occur for 3 days after application and is why we spray at the Xmas period  because we can't water during that period anyway. 

The good news is, this browning off is only temporary, already with irrigation applied the 3 days of last week improvement has been ongoing and will continue to do so, within another week or 2 there should be a complete recovery.