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.