Friday, July 27, 2012


In the 4 years I have been here at Capel, I have never had to turn the pumps on to water anything during winter. Normally from the first decent rains in May / June through to September / October the pumps remain idle as the combination of colder temperatures and regular rainfall (winter is our wet season) mean evaporation is very low and generally there is enough soil moisture between regular rain / shower events not to have to worry about watering.
This week was a first, we fired up the pumps to give the greens a light handwater, no sprinklers, just a nice controlled amount by handwatering to deliver some moisture to the root zone of the bent grass. 
 We were forced into this unprecedented step by the lack of rainfall this month, only 48mm of rain so far compared to the average of 148mm, in fact we are heading for our driest July on record. Rain is predicted for next Tuesday and Wednesday, but it was just a little to long away to wait for.

Now before I go on, in case you are getting the urge to turn on your retic system, I highlight that we do have a winter sprinkler ban in place, we have not watered the couch grass tees or fairways nor will we be, we handwatered the greens only without sprinklers and only a controlled amount applied to turf that is being cut at 2.5mm not like home lawns, responsible water use is the responsibility of all of us.
The lack of rainfall is a concern for recharging the groundwater and dams whilst my fingers are crossed that a repeat of 2010 with the dry end to winter meant an earlier start to the irrigation season and the pressure it put on our allocation for the whole of summer that year does not eventuate.

There is a bright side tho, with the lack of rainfall comes conditions most enjoyed by players, the course is playing firm and fast, the greens running at 12 1/2 to 13 feet testament to that, not to mention the beautiful afternoon conditions for golf.
The other huge positive for the maintenance staff is the drier conditions have meant we have been able to stress out the Poa (winter grass) in the greens more so than normal without effecting the Bent grass and along with products applied to gradually control the Poa give the bent a competitive advantage at a time it usually is playing second fiddle to the shade and wet loving Winter grass. With its shallow roots, the winter grass is the first to suffer during times like this and the bent can and does start to fill in even tho it is slow growing at the moment. 
In the picture below you can see the combined effect of the products applied and the drier conditions stunting the winter grass growth while the bent is slowly filling in. 

Friday, July 20, 2012


There is a bounce in the tone, a skip to the step, for the first time in nearly 6 weeks we managed to accomplish other work besides cleaning up debris from the storm. HALLELUJAH!!!! you here me yell!!!!!!!!!!!!!
WE started being constructive rather than cleaning up the destruction, well it depends on how you look at it I guess, some might think we were being destructive! 

Despite only 2 of us on for half the week we made progress on a few of the original plans we had for winter.

The gardens near the site of the proposed practice chipping green and bunker were finally removed in preparations for construction to commence as soon as the donated equipment becomes available.
                                              Some destruction before the construction I guess.

Repaired the paving by the 7th tee.
Ben showing his constructive paving skills after the destruction from the felled tree.

Mounded the area to the right of the 3rd as mentioned in a previous post, it hasn't been consolidated yet still to settle.
      Construction covering destruction of the site of the 250 year old red gum felled.

The front gate has also been installed thanks to Peter for constructing the gate and Mick who installed it.
 So from this little piece of construction we hope it will limit the destruction from those useless vandals who have been driving on the course.

OK by now your sick of the construction and destruction theme, but jeez it feels good to get some construction and constructive work done.
Have a good weekend, enjoy your game because the last bit of good news I have for you is that the greens are back, pre storm pace and are running a cool 12 foot.
So as I whistle off into the sunset to the tune of destructive construction I bid you all a great weekend of golf full of constructive scores and no self destruction on the homeward holes.

Sorry about that, a theme is a theme so might as well be a constructive one just like this week

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Green Aproaches

You would have to be blind Freddy not to realise the approaches to some greens are thin, very wet, and struggling. We expect some deterioration in surface quality through winter, with the colder weather reducing the warm season growth grates to next to nothing and why we paint the blue lines and put in place traffic measures to decrease the wear from players, one problem we cant avoid is the wear from mowing greens with a triplex mower and we try to limit the turning where we can in these areas.

At the heart of the problem you are witnessing is a very thick layer of iron buildup (from our water) and thatch close to the surface, (see pic) which is restricting water movement through the top soil surface effecting drainage and keeping the surface very wet, it is also reducing air flow and movement of air and gas exchange, all very important to healthy turf.

Options we have considered to deal with this and reasons they were ruled out or in are,
Removal of turf and the layer, replacing with sand and turf.
 It is true this is an immediate definite fix, however with the amount of area to attend, it would be very labour intensive, extremely disruptive to play during works and grow in, also expensive due to the shear area of work, turf would have to be sourced from somewhere on course or purchased as the existing turf is not healthy enough to lift and relay and also the depth we would need to cut the turf would in fact also cut the layer we want to remove, the result would be still having a heavy iron layer close to the surface (see pic).

Installing drainage
Drainage usually isn't an issue as we are sand based and in fact no formal drainage exist on the course. We will consider drainage as a step should other efforts not achieve the results we are after.  

Coring and sanding to dilute and break down the layer.
This is our preferred option and one we will be undertaking, the aim is to break through the layer into the sand lower in the profile (pic) allowing drainage to occur, sanding after coring will dilute the iron and thatch layer further creating channels for air and water movement and resulting in healthier turf. It will not be a quick fix however and time will be required tho some immediate improvement will be experienced.
It is less disruptive to play and all approaches can be completed relatively quickly.

During the rest of this winter due to the cold weather and slow recovery rates we will only be mini tinning (very small needle like tines) and not sanding, some improvement in wet conditions should be experienced but not a great deal, come spring and summer a program of monthly coring and sanding will be implemented and turf health will improve dramatically.

Our planned solution to fixing the problem is -
1) mini tine the areas affected through winter without sanding this year
2) Hollow core and sand the effected areas monthly through Spring and summer.
3) Evaluate if further action is required, IE drainage /excavation of iron layer.

Not all approaches are the same and in some cases turf and iron removal may still be necessary however attacking the problem with this 3 stage approach will ensure excess needless time and expense is not spent on solutions where simple extra maintenance could solve the issue.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

An Inquisitive lot

We had plenty of inquisitive looks and some questions today about what we were doing in the area between the 3rd green, 5th fairway behind the 4th tee. I think there was some concern we were moving the tee back to increase the 480m Par 4 4th, don’t worry it isn’t happening.
 If you recall this area was the site of the 250 year plus red gum that fell during the storm along with a couple of other smaller trees. As the area is rarely visited by golf balls and we while we managed to remove most of the large stumps there still remained a large section close to the surface in 2 locations that would cause safety concerns for players and maintenance staff, I decided it was a perfect area for some “character” work and we will be constructing 2 small mounds along with a natural dip in the area.
 Eventually we will plant a couple of small trees, and considering the area is non-irrigated as well as rarely played, we will use the area to trial native grasses. It will be better than just a sand flat through the summer months as it has been and without the red gum very bare.

Work in the area will only take place as low priority, meaning work in the area will be done as time permits; we started today because we have finished the detail of the rough, CELEBRATIONS!!!! NO MORE STICKS!!!! The other reason it was started today was because Anthony was off and we were due to commence the removal of the gardens for the practice green however as I have allocated him the construction role for the area for experience I prefer him to be present during all stages of that process.   

Saturday, July 14, 2012


Hello and welcome to this weeks news.
During the week Kubota in conjunction with Bunbury Machinery held its annual Kubota Roadshow, usually I send the staff along with myself to view and test drive the equipment. This year they came to us, we were asked to provide the venue for this years event and we were more than willing to assist. The staff enjoyed testing out the latest mowers on offer, actually they were like kids on an amusement ride at your local store, I thought they were going to throw a tantrum when I told them they had to "get off".
 I believe in the fact the staff must use any equipment we purchase so they should be given the opportunity to test the equipment themselves and provide any feedback positive or otherwise, at the very least I find it gives them a sense of ownership and they are more likely to look after the equipment in the long run. A side note to concerned members at this point, no we are not purchasing equipment at this stage, Andy smiles and the staff's heads droop.

Other news from the week and we have all but finished the detail of the rough and bush area, only some boundary holes and odd spots are left to do, finally the end is nigh and I can look forward to a "stick less" week for a change. We managed to clear a few of the debris heaps, which will now be ongoing with something like 11000 cubic meters from the storm, to get rid of it will a progressive task, also we attended course preps for this weekends Auslec Cup, the course isn't to flash but with all the clean up work near complete it is reasonable condition for winter and the greens are rolling at a nice pace.
Next week we will commence removing the gardens in preparations for the practice chipping green construction, finish off the detail and may even get to some bunker base levelling.

Finally good luck to every one playing in Sunday's Auslec Cup.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Back Putter

I was asked during the week why the back putter is so much slower than all the other greens.

The back putter is a very small green 180m2, it is also surrounded by a limestone wall on 2 sides and a 4ft drop on the other sides with only one access point.
We only have a triplex greens mower to mow greens, and with no room to turn when we did mow the back putter with the triplex even at 2nd daily intervals, huge wear areas would develop at either end of the green simply from the excess wear the small restricted area could not handle.
Effectively, due to the size and design of the green only 100m2 could be holed for putting.

As a measure to overcome the wear caused by this we commenced mowing the back putter with a Walk Behind cylinder mower, unfortunately the walk behind is a domestic cylinder mower and not a golf green mower. The domestic mower can only be adjusted to 6mm at its lowest, with no speed control. As you know we cut greens at 2.5mm to 3mm, golf green mowers are precision equipment, are able to cut that low, have speed control and a greater number of blades to remove clippings.
We were faced with a choice, mow the green with the triplex mower, have it at the same pace but with bare areas and struggling turf which would mean total closure of the green for extended periods or cut with the walk behind, the green be slower but no bare areas, healthy turf and open all the time. Obviously we chose the later.

Long term plans are in place to eventually replace the green, we hope to obtain a golf green walk behind mower later this year, not just for the back putter but for other means as well. In the meantime if you want an indication of the true green speed, use the main putter.

On to the course news for the week and a similar story workwise from last week, on top of our normal set up and some routine maintenance we have all but finished the detail of the roughs on the back 9. Hopefully by the end of next week all the front 9 will be detailed and we can finally put the storm clean up to bed and return to the winter works we had planned starting with the construction of the practice chipping green.

Till next week happy hacking...just not the turf ok!