Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Xmas 2013

On behalf of the Greenstaff I extend our best wishes for Xmas to all our Members, Management and Directors.
We hope everyone has a safe and happy Festive season with their loved ones.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Summer is Here

The temperatures remained over 30 and into the mid 30's for the past 8 days announcing the official  arrival of Summer, staff were kept busy nursing the putting green seeded area and on our toes for other heat related issues that might have occurred on course, a few dry patch issues in the fairway as a result of wind interference to the irrigation system was the only effect and will soon recover. With more extreme weather to come for the remainder of summer staff will be kept on our toes.

It is also a perfect opportunity to remind all our players of a few Summer conditions

Through Summer you will notice, except for special events, the greens will run slightly slower, only marginally as we raise the heights slightly by less than 1/2mm as a protective measure for the Bent surfaces through the added stress of Summer Heat. As explained HERE...http://capelgcmaintenance.blogspot.com.au/2012/05/summer-green-speed-trial-part-1.html

Manual Irrigation of the Back 9 Fairways is in full swing, Players are reminded not to hit upon staff completing Sprinkler shifts, we are mindful to try to keep out of players way however we need to complete these sprinkler shifts quickly within the allotted time, and they take precedence over all else so some patience from players is required.

Also if you are stopping a sprinkler from turning to hit your shot, make sure you remove the impediment before moving on.
Players on the course before 7am and after 6pm can reasonably expect to have major interference from irrigation on either greens or tees.

Summer is also a time when the couch and Saltene become an issue in the greens, unlike annual or broadleaf weeds it is not a simple method of one herbicide application and the problem is gone, without excavation of the contaminated areas, the control process takes many years and is more centred on Suppression through Summer and gradual reduction in the cooler months.
Our control programs are working there is continually less Couch each year, during its most favoured time for growth our aim is to suppress and maintain the contaminated areas within gains made in the cooler season. A difficult task as explained further  HERE....http://capelgcmaintenance.blogspot.com.au/2012/12/saltene-and-couch-grass.html

These are just a few reminders for all players who may experience some of the slight changes during Summer.

Work on the course the past few weeks has concentrated on Scarifying /Renovating Tees, Aprons and Walkways to have this work completed by Xmas and ready to go for the Junior Open in January, all surfaces are making a strong recovery and should be looking and playing fantastic in a few weeks.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Long Overdue

Has it really been that long since I updated the blog ? How time is flying by, extremely busy on course these past 5 months, my apologies for the tardiness.....

 Before moving forward, A recap of some of the works these past 5 months.

Our two main winter projects, Front 9 tree pruning and Bunker base levelling were completed successfully judging by the great comments we have had about the work. The back 9 will targeted next winter in more of the same in preparation for the 2014 Vets Next November.


As you would be aware, unless you live under a rock, the Practice Bunker and Chipping Green were brought into play and now provides the membership with a great new practice facility.

September rain impacted on course conditions and maintenance work however 20 mins after this picture was taken the rain stopped water drained and play resumed.

Renovations were successfully completed in October, sticking with our program of alternating solid and hallow tines which has proved very successful these past few years.

It has not been without drama, the tractor clutch needed replacing, unfortunately the clutch was only available overseas and the tractor was out of action for 4 weeks, this put some weed spraying and other tractor related work well behind schedule.

Our thanks to Peter Robbins for donating his time and expertise, splitting the tractor and fitting the parts, this unselfish act saved the club a considerable amount of money.

 As requested by the course committee extension work to the main Putting green has commenced and will be yet another improvement for members to utilise.

Other work we have completed or are in the process of includes, all Fairways Tees and Surrounds treated for Broadleaf weeds, summer pre emergent  spraying for crab grass for all surfaces, a light fertiliser application for Fairways, all walk ways / traffic areas are being cored, Tees will be renovated between now and Xmas, this includes verti cutting, scroll cutting and topdressing some tees and coring others. All traffic areas, Tees and short roughs will be fertilised when coring is complete.

The volunteers mainly Graham, Peter and Syd have also been busy with path construction, the 10th Green, 12th green and 8th ladies being the latest with plans for the 11th to 12th tee to go ahead shortly. They also erected the Gazebo on the 7th which the ladies utilised for their Melbourne Cup Day.
Many thanks for the hard work and dedication these members show through their volunteering.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Trees, Bunkers and Bad Lies

Sounds like a bad round doesn't it, better see Jim for a swing check, in really it is only our winter works program in full swing.

 We have commenced pruning trees, we are focusing on the first line of trees along fairway edges and trimming low lying dangerous branches along with unhealthy suckers and damaged limbs. This type of work is very subjective, I can assure you we are taking a conservative approach, only removing branches posing a risk to staff on equipment and cart users and only trimming trees in the first row, the inside area or bush will be largely untouched.
It will result in a safer work environment, a healthier turf cover on the edges of Fairways with reduced shading and a more aesthetically pleasing appearance.
Works will progress in sections as we have a limited stockpile area and we need to dispose of these before continuing.

The other major winter work project, levelling Bunker Bases, this work will be alternated with the above on a rolling basis through winter. The bunkers were due to be completed last year, the work was postponed due to the destructive storm and subsequent massive clean up task we experienced.
The object of our attention is mainly the down slope in most bunkers to the green. It is a very labour intensive exercise requiring manually shovelling sand from the back faces of the bunkers, removing excess sand from the faces and adding more sand where required, this work will be ongoing through winter.
A word of warning though, some bunkers will be soft and be at risk of fried egg / plugged lies more than others depending on the degree of sand movement required, we cannot totally avoid this effect even with consolidating the bunkers after work is finished, time will be required for the sand to settle.

Lastly, we arrived to work to set the course up for today's WA golf Junior Classic only to find for the second time in as many weeks damage caused by the misuse of carts and bunker etiquette thrown out the window by late afternoon players, please report any instances witnessed to a board member or office staff so prompt handling of the matter can be achieved.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

One question that has been popping up a lot lately, "Will the greens remain at the same pace they are now for the rest of winter "?

Members are obviously relishing the pace of the greens at the moment, they are running pretty slick and the stories of just how quick are being added to daily, so what's the answer to the question on everyone's lips.

The simple answer is yes, we plan to have the greens at present pace or there abouts for the rest of winter.
For the more complicated or should I say detailed answer, read on

Factors in our control are our maintenance inputs which effect green speed like Green mowing heights and cut frequency, moisture management, nutrient management, winter grass suppression techniques and a wide variety of other maintenance practices which directly effect green speed will be or are planned to be similar for the rest of winter, this equates to the greens being of similar pace for the rest of winter.

Factors out of our control, rain events, humidity, wind and general weather conditions are the most obvious but some other factors out of our control that can affect decisions made on cutting heights include vandalism and rough house play on greens, should we need to take measures to protect greens these invariably slow them down, the more care which is taken by players the less likely we need to intervene. 

The end  and most important governing factor is and will always be the health of the greens dictating how far we can push them without undue injury, apart summer where we actively protect the greens and renovation recovery periods we do strive to provide a quick green pace for our members on a regular basis, the period from April through October is when our greens are at their quickest without pushing them to far over the edge, however we are also mindful of pest and disease and other stress instances which occur and measures we need to implement to protect the greens health override all else.  

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Chipper Progress

Its been 4 weeks since we seeded the chipping green, time for an update to inform you of the progress to your new practice facility.

The green is where we had planned it to be despite the heavy rain recently causing some wash out areas which will require reseeding, Believe it or not we are cutting the green at 10mm presently and with healthy growth continuing we  will be lowering the height to 8mm by the end of this week.
The washout patches will be reseeded and the whole green given a light top-dress in 2 weeks by which time the young seedling grass will be strong enough to withstand a light sanding. From there we will be regularly lowering heights and giving light topdressing until the green is open for practice, baring any unforeseen events that should be in approx. 8 weeks.

This week is a huge week for the staff and the club, We have the Pro Am on Wednesday, followed by the 2 day Capel Cup major event, all our efforts have been focused on these events for the past few weeks to have the course in fine condition, and with only 2 days left we are very close to achieving what we set out to accomplish.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

The first 2 weeks of May has brought a little over 100mm rain, 67mm falling last Tuesday night, the rain was very welcome as a start in recharging water aquifers etc. and lets face it no mater how much water you irrigate with, you just can't beat the rain for results, the downside is as it fell in short bouts of heavy downpours it did cause washouts which kept us busy.

Another concern is the effect the heavy rain has had on the germinating seed on the chipper, some washout is expected to impact on results.

In the coming 2 weeks our focus will be solely on preparing the course for the upcoming Pro-Am and Capel Cup, we take great pride in maintaining a high standard of course year round but we do strive to take the course up a few notches for our major events, this requires attention to the 5% jobs which we generally do not have time to get to in the normal operation of the course with low staff numbers, examples of the % jobs I refer to are things like whipper snipping around sand bins and course fixtures, Fallen Branch pick up in Bush areas, (in play fallen limbs are always removed asap), and generally just going through the course with a higher degree of attention to detail.  More precisely these works are attended to routinely, but they are rarely attended to at the same time as they are for major events.

In other news the success of the mound in place of the bunker on 16 green approach has resulted in a much better turf coverage than initially expected in the proposed area of the 2nd of the mounds, the Course Committee have decided the 2nd of the mounds is now no longer necessary as the reasons for the construction of the mound no longer exists, i.e. to control wear and traffic measures. The removal of the bunker and construction of the mound has opened the area up for a greater trafficable area and the turf has responded accordingly. 

Now lets see if I can finally get some pics up

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Hello and welcome to this weeks update
The ladies invitation day hit off Friday under fine skies and course conditions, which wasn't looking likely the day before with 33mm of rain effecting the course conditions and what could be done on course, a busy Thursday afternoon and Friday morning  managed to have the course ready for play, and with 1 staff on leave for the week, it was no mean feat.

Disease conditions I spoke of last post have eased slightly and you will notice subsequent improvement in the fairways, tho flair ups are to be expected. Those conditions are not only favourable for disease incidence but also are perfect for seed germination, the chipping green was re seeded last week under much better conditions for success than the 35 degree days we had late last year, we will be monitoring the progress closely as we start to see the green hue develop over the next few days.
These conditions have also contributed to the continued extended growth period we are experiencing with growth and subsequent mowing still at  very early Autumn levels, though we should start to see a slow down with cooler weather now starting to push through also bringing rain like last weeks drink.

The 17th greenside lip of the sand bunker was also raised during the week, this work was long overdue after the lip started to sink towards the bunker with constant wash outs during rain events and ball roll trickling down the slope, now rectified without undue interference to play.

I again apologise for no pictures, I am still having trouble loading onto blogger.
Till next time Keep Swinging.


Thursday, April 25, 2013

Conditions have been ideal for the rampant spread of 2 diseases over the past 3 to 4 weeks, warm days cool nights, very high humidity, little wind / air movement and heavy morning dew containing leaf exodus (Guttation) rich with nutrients create conditions perfect for disease infection and spread.
The degree of humidity and calm winds along with the length of time we have experienced these conditions is unusual for us, while we usually have a few days at a time, the past few weeks have consistently been very Humid with little to no wind, this has contributed to the unusual severity of the disease, namely Dollar Spot in the fairways.

Dollar Spot is so named because of the initial dollar size spot, symptoms start as, as these spots enlarge they can coalesce developing into much larger irregular shaped patches, this is what you are seeing in the fairways at the moment, they may look like large dry areas but these straw coloured patches are damage caused by the dollar spot disease.

Unfortunately a problem with blogger is preventing uploading of pictures but will once the problem is sorted.

Generally we experience 2 main periods for Dollar Spot disease, in Spring and Autumn when the conditions described above are at their peak, generally our policy is to prevent the disease becoming active in the Bent Grass Greens, limit damage to Tees, and ride the worst of it out in the Fairways. Plant Protectant use is only considered for greens, to a lesser extent tees and not for Fairways as our priority of sustainable management for our turf surfaces. As you will notice, even though conditions are as they are, the greens remain disease free, the tees have more than the greens but nowhere near as bad as the fairways, highlighting the priority of areas. We simply do not have the budget to consider large area protective applications.

We rely on cultural means for control in the fairways, in the most part this is effective in reducing the severity and frequency of any diseases we may experience, however when conditions are as they are at the moment, we are simply at the mercy of weather conditions, once these improve, the cultural practices we employ have a greater chance of working and gradually we overcome any symptoms of disease.
As I said we simply have to ride the worst of it out. 

One of the most effective tools at our disposal during these periods is the removal of dew early morning, which contributes to the disease severity, The front 9 can easily be removed with the auto retic however the back 9 can take up to 2 hours to finish due to the manual retic system, one reason why the back 9 fairways are  far more effected than the front and another less than obvious advantage to the auto retic.
Other cultural practices include the targeted use of nutrients and their application and in smaller areas such as tees, collecting leaf clippings to limit the spread of infected material.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Last time I posted I mentioned the weather changing quickly, and yes March was one of our coolest and wettest for a few years, since 1997 to be exact, Mother nature has had very different ideas since with our Warmest start to April on record, recording summer like 30 degree temps, today as I write we are finally getting wet with 7mm falling so far and hopefully a bit more on the way. I digress, before I start sounding like a channel 7 weather reporter. 

The greens have continued to improve since renovations, they would have been slightly slower the week following the Easter Medley as we rested them, applied follow up fertiliser applications and allowed them to "breath" a little after pushing them a little harder than normal for the 3 weeks after renovations in order to have them running reasonably well for the Easter Medley. Normal greens maintenance has resumed this week, double cutting and a slight H.O.C reduction will have them running at a much better pace.  

Today we are hosting the 2013 Australian Customs Golf Carnival which has also visited Bunbury, Busselton and Sanctuary this week, the course is in great condition for this event despite the rain and will be in similar condition for the weekends members events.

With the Customs event and warmer temperatures than expected keeping the manual retic going more than usual,  we were forced to change directions putting our construction plans on hold, concentrating on course conditioning along with irrigation of fwys etc. The practice chipper, and 17th bunker repair will now start next week and the 16th mound not long after.

We have removed the sandy mound on 3 as advised and have made the most of the extended warm weather and latest precipitation with a good dry fertiliser application to all warm season turf.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Course staff have been busy preparing the course for this weekends Easter Medley, difficult task this week due to the Good Friday public holiday effectively having a 4 day week to prepare the course. I think we achieved what we set out to and the course is in great shape heading into the weekend.

The greens maybe a little slower than previous major events but you have to keep in mind the greens were only renovated 3 weeks ago, looking at them you wouldn't know it has only been 3 weeks, I m very pleased with the way the greens have come back, we knew it was always going to be a race against time to have them remotely close to condition for this weekend, while another week would have been nice, I think we won the race in the end. The greens are only 1/2mm off our usual major event height of cut being cut at 3mm, a fantastic response only 3 weeks out from renovations, we are only single cutting and this will contribute to slightly slower greens than normal major events.
Obviously those areas we were more vigorous with couch encroachment control will be a slower to recover than the rest of the green.  

We have had a positive response in the most part to the new fairway definition and style, they are growing in and will improve in time, I have had some members raise concerns and my suggestion to anyone who has concerns regarding the new Fairway definition is to approach the Course Director or Course Committee members with those concerns.

Upcoming with another 4 day week next week, routine course maintenance will be the focus, after which removal of the sandy mounds to the left of the 3rd is on the cards, these mounds were not designed to remain GUR for any length of time, as it has been required to make these GUR consistently the decision has been made to remove them altogether and return the area to a flat sandy zone as was previously but wasn't GUR.
Other work which will be undertaken over the next few weeks include commencing stage 2 of the 16th mounding work, raising the right side sunken area of 17th Bunker lip / green edge, and finally re starting the Chipping green grow in now that favourable weather conditions have returned.

Talking of which, hasn't the weather turned quite suddenly this year, it was only a few weeks ago minimum temps were still around the 20 degree mark, this past week it has dropped to 7 degrees, but the 27 degree afternoons has made conditions ideal for a round of Golf, we have some 35mm rain this month and  I hope this is an encouraging sign for winter rain.

Finally other work which will be attended shortly includes the final dry fertilising of all warm season turf areas before growth slows too much, by fertilising with a little Nitrogen (not a allot), more Potassium and some Iron, a little in advance of the much colder temperatures of winter we can encourage the turf to maintain a decent colour ( instead of the brown dormant colour), have a stronger plant heading into winter more resistant to winter wear and tear. 

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Fairway Definitions and Green Update

Under instruction from the Course Director the fairway definitions will be changing slightly, in most cases the fairway will now stop short of the green, some fairways will be re shaped and others narrowed to get a definitive edge between the fairway area and rough. In some cases the fairway definition is difficult to obtain due to a number of reasons, the main being, the rough area not receiving adequate irrigation, shade and  tree roots, by narrowing some of the generous fairways we hope to have a better fairway definition.
The other reason for this work is to make subtle changes to increase the challenging nature of the course without adding labour intensive bunkers etc.

You will notice blue lines around the new fairway cut area, this is to assist the fairway mower operator hit the line, until the distinction has grown in. Some scalping of areas will occur where the cut has been taken outside the existing line, these areas Will recover quickly with a little assistance from the crew.

The greens are coming back from Renovations well, all core holes filled and the sand is settling nicely, areas where we were aggressively controlling Couch / Saltene patches will be slower to recover than the rest of the green. We will start afternoon mowing next Monday at a higher height of cut and gradually lower the heights till we reach our normal autumn heights of 2.5mm, over a couple of weeks.
The reason we initially mow greens in the afternoon rather than morning straight after renovations, is simply because the greens and sand is dry, if we mowed the greens early morning the rollers would pick up the wet sand and bring it to the surface, the mower blades would also dull very quickly hence the "afternoon cut". This generally is for the first week of mowing resuming after which the sand has all but disappeared.

On a side note I would like to thank everyone for all the get well wishes received for my wife, thank you.

Monday, March 11, 2013

I apologise for limited blog updates lately, as many know my wife has recently had back surgery and during her time in hospital when not staying in Perth, I was making the 4 hour round trip, as you can imagine, organising course work, family at home and taking care of the wife has kept me busy and will do so for some time yet so bare with me until some form of normality returns.

Over the past few weeks we have successfully held the Capel Classic with the increased maintenance and grooming that entails, and of course our Greens renovations this past weekend.

Renovations went very well, all greens solid tinned (this was due to the close proximity of the Easter event and needing to get the greens back quicker than we would if pulling the cores out). Fertilised and all the goodies applied, prior to this, the greens were verti cut and the couch areas heavily scarified and also undertook crab grass, Saltene and Couch chemical control.

The race will now be on to get the greens back to normal by Easter and our next major event, I think we will make it but it will be close.

The greens now will be rested for a week...( I hear the players groans already) no mowing meaning very bumpy and slow putting, before we start bringing them into play with regular high cut and gradually lower that cut over a 3 week period.

Tho the temperatures at times are remaining high, with summer over I am very pleased to report we have experienced no major loss of turf areas in a repeat of last summer, with back to back years like this considering the clubs history of summer turf loss, it is very pleasing from my perspective as it shows our turf management programs are working very well.  
As we head into the cooler months, winter grass and winter weed control will be the foremost on our minds, and for me organising our winter works programs which will include bunker face works to firm loose areas and reshape the slope to original shape amongst many other items I Will highlight when things settle down at home.

The 16th mound area is now fully open and the 2nd mound will be started after the Easter Medley.
The practice Chipper will be seeded soon after we receive results from soil testing.

In a nut shell that's the basic news from the course, once again I apologise for the lack of news and pictures.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

WA Golf Industry Gala Dinner

For the past few years, Golf WA has joined with the PGA and GCSAWA for a combined awards night for the various organisations within the WA golf industry, one of the awards is the Toro Apprentice of the year Award.
Anthony had the privilege of attending this years Gala as he was 1 of 4 candidates nominated for this award, while he didn't eventually win the award we are very proud of him and his efforts to be nominated.

Congratulations Anthony, well done and as I said to you earlier, Tho you didn't take out the award, it is an achievement in itself to be nominated and one you should be proud of, we are, just rewards for all your efforts. 

On a personal note, it is very pleasing when an apprentice you have been responsible for with their training achieves to a level considered worthy of nomination for awards as these, I was hoping it would be 3rd time lucky as this is the 3rd time round for me with 2 past apprentices from over East who also achieved to this level, it is very satisfying to know you played a role however insignificant in shaping their working lives.

Once again Anthony, Congratulations and I am sure you will go to bigger and better things.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Summer Cup

It is nice when all the hard yards have been made and you achieve the results you were after. The course is set up in great condition for this weekend's Associates Summer Cup and with 180 ladies expected it sure is going to be a big weekend with very early starts and some late evenings to keep the course and the ladies happy following the Summer Cup we also have the Vets day on Monday which brings another big field.

Sorry but no pics yet trouble with loading.

The weekend will also be a good test for the greens recovering from the 8 day no irrigation period, the faster root recovery than expected leading us to resume normal summer maintenance programs earlier than expected. We have lowered the cut to 2.5mm, double cutting for the weekend and are rolling 11ft but we are concerned as temperatures are set to soar over the next 5 days with temperatures between 38 and 40 degrees expected. They will be closely watched over the weekend and once past the major event we will back off and allow some breathing space for the greens to tolerate this heat period and recover any further issues that may develop.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Hello and welcome to this weeks blogs installment for the week ending 26th Jan. Happy Australia Day I hope all enjoy the Australia day long weekend. Or should I say..
Gday mate, av a bloody bonza Aussie Day and your weekend is beaut..... (Cliches couldn't resist)

News from the course this week is all positive as we continue to achieve strong recovery growth as condition improve to where we want them to be.

As can be seen in the pictures and a casual round of golf all areas are recovering well.

Thanks to some lower than expected temperatures over the past 2 weeks, high 20's low 30's combined with management practices during this time the greens are also making a faster recovery in terms of root growth than initially expected, so much so we are starting to re introduce normal maintenance practices for the time of year and recommenced herbicide control for Crab Grass, tho we are using the lower rate with split applications over a 3 week period to overcome any potential injury to the bent grass. What this means is we will still see control of Crab Grass but over a longer time frame than would be if a higher more condensed rate is used.

Temperatures are again warming up with the next 7 days looking to be consistently around 33 degrees, for greens maintenance specially the front 9 continued careful management will dictate maintenance inputs and also green speeds.

I am aware green speeds have been up to 2 feet slower  than our usual summer green speeds at times over the past few weeks,  I thank you for your understanding as we implemented measures to keep the greens going through the initial non water period and then through the recovery process, with the positive news the greens roots are recovering strongly enough to tolerate some normal maintenance routines also comes the good news for players that greens speeds will increase slightly as well, I would anticipate baring unforeseen dramas the greens will start to return to normal summer time speeds this week before we start increasing the pace for the Summer Cup.

With a short week next week due to the public holiday we will be keeping on top of any issues with the greens and temperatures, starting the process of conditioning the course for the Summer Cup with bunker edges the first to be attended, it will be a busy week and by look of it an uncomfortable one to be in the bunkers so early starts will be implemented for staff to try and beat the heat.

Once again Happy Australia Day long weekend.

Saturday, January 19, 2013


Recovery Work Week!
The past 2 weeks has all been about providing conditions for turf grass recovery as much as we can control along with of course normal routine maintenance and course mowing etc.

All front 9 surfaces have had wetting agents applied, Green Surrounds cored in addition the 8th and 9th Surrounds scarified and seeded with Rye grass.
I am not a big fan of Rye grass, however decided that as it was the turf established in the area and does germinate relatively quickly it would give us some quick grass cover considering the Ladies Summer Cup is only a few weeks away.
Some light fertiliser applications to all areas rounds up the broad scale turf recovery.
8th Surrounds cored, scarified, seeded and sanded

For the Fairways, Tees and Green surrounds we have done all we can to assist in recovery the rest is up to the turf, time and patience, our goal is to have close to all areas recovered by the Summer Cup.
Fwy Dry patch recovering

The greens remain a different challenge altogether, I informed the Course Committee on Monday night, root growth has shrunk by 50 to 60% with less depth and function creating a very weak plant with less tolerances to the stresses I have spoke previously of, disease instances for one, and will require extra attention for the rest of Summer.

We have started to achieve some re wetting of the heard pan hydrophobic layer 2 inches below the surface which was causing us a great deal of concern, it is an encouraging sign, with this now re wetting we are also seeing new root growth commence, (In the pic the white coloured roots are new healthy growth, dark brown are unhealthy non functional roots) Our management practices remain focused on continued improvement, hopefully at least to a level where the greens can tolerate a slightly lower cut and other measures taken to quicken the pace of the greens for the Summer Cup. In the meantime green pace will remain slightly slower than normal as we continue management practices to relieve stress and improve plant health. Needle tinning remains an option should we believe further intervention is required.
Greens H.O.C remains at 3mm

We still have some decisions to make, one such example is, do we proceed with herbicide treatment for crab grass in the greens?
We know if we do not proceed crab grass will be a major issue in 3 to 4 weeks time, if we do proceed are we exposing the greens already weakened and recovering to further injury and possibly death.
Decisions like these won't be taken lightly, careful monitoring and assessment on a green by green basis will dictate the course of action taken.
Many more decisions will need to be made over the rest of summer as you can see they are not easy ones to make under the circumstances but rest assured any decision will be  carefully balanced against the risk to the greens health.

Compressed fungicide application, spoonfeeding greens weekly and reduced mechanical stress  remain our best tools to get through the rest of summer in good condition.

One area I neglected to mention is the Chipping green, unfortunately we could not get water to the green on the first day of the break, consequently with a 39 degree day it, didn't take long for the young seedling grass to wilt and die, This area will now be left for the rest of summer and reseeding carried out in early Autumn.

For now the news is positive, all surfaces are recovering well from the 8 day no irrigation period and with careful management, maybe a little luck, and favourable weather that improvement should continue.
Our Focus will will now be on presentation of the course for the Summer Cup, attending tasks around the course we have not attended as we concentrated on commencing the recovery process, Bunker edges are high on the list along with a number of other tasks which when completed immediately improve the presentation.
As we get closer to the Summer Cup depending on green health we will start the process of increasing pace and try to peak the greens for the event.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Pipe Break Q & A

As promised answers to the most common non turf related questions about the recent main line break I have received.

1/ Why did the break occur ? 
After inspection it appears the contractors who installed the main line did not install the thrust blocks as specified. With set speed pumps cavitation, water hammer is a serious issue with correct thrust block installation critical. Variable speed pumps are the most favoured but the system design took into account our set speed pumps.

2/ Why was water off of so long ?
Due to the holiday period and most manufactures and suppliers closed there was difficulty in obtaining the correct fittings, our irrigation supplier did not have parts on hand had to source parts from various areas across WA. The location of the break only 10m from the bore head could not be isolated.

3/ Why didn't we have parts on hand ?
At the time of installation we were advised due to our limited shed storage area we would only need to carry Toro specific spares, IE sprinkler heads, decoders etc, and the smaller pipe size fittings and pipe, we were assured by our irrigation supplier and successful tender for the installation that all other main line fittings would be readily assessable from their store  24/7 and they would keep an extra inventory on hand for our use.

4/ Why didn't we open the isolation valves from the back 9 bore to water the front 9 ?
We were advised due to the nature of the break, ( a crack extending 1m) and location, between 2 isolation valves 2m apart, we risked the pipe twisting at the isolation valve under pressure and extending the crack further down the line which risk increasing the down time of the irrigation system further.
Another minor influencing factor was the need to operate the system manually if we did connect, as the back 9 is manual and struggles as it is, we would have been taking irrigation away from the back to water the front and both sides would not have received enough irrigation through the weather conditions to meet turf needs, surface deterioration would then have been over a larger area as would recovery. By limiting it one side we effectively reduced the area effected.
If the back 9 was automated like the front this would not have been a factor.

5/ What steps are being taken to avoid future problems as this ?
Firstly we will be carrying emergency parts and fittings ourselves and not be reliant on the assurance we received from our supplier.
We are evaluating whether extra isolation valves can be utilised closer to the bore head, bearing in mind isolation valves are already located 10m from the bore to isolate either one of the two mains leading from the bore head.
Talks on a management level will be held with the supplier to address our concerns.

Monday, January 7, 2013

And on the 8th day he flicked the switch

Finally after the longest 8 days of my career we can irrigate!!!
The pipe repaired, the concrete set, some issues with repair sorted, the system flushed and pressurised, tested and monitored...... now we bloody water everything!!!!!!!

I am not ashamed to admit the past 8 days probably rank up there with the most stressful periods of my professional turf career. Many thanks to Peter Dillon for his assistance handwatering and Mick Templemen for chasing up the phone calls which left me free to attend the course. Also to the staff for the great job they have done altering work hours etc to make sure we got through this in the best condition possible.

All things considered the course has held up well, the Tees remain healthy, Fairways have quite a few dry patch areas but should recover quickly, and the most important we haven't lost any area of greens, however they will need to be closely monitored and maintenance practices altered for the rest of summer as will be explained below.
The green surrounds are the worst effected with potential turf loss in large areas, these areas are mainly Rye grass areas, heavily shaded or in high traffic areas, we will see how these areas respond to irrigation before we take further steps which will include assessing the continued use of this turf species in these locations and also consideration to other factors such as rerouting traffic, tree proximity's etc.

Now we turn from damage control to recovery and also be mindful of a few issues that are not evident now but have taken place under the soil, the all important root zone.

Bent grass greens are difficult to manage in summer at the best of times, as explained here click here our primary objective leading into summer is to have the greens going into this stressful period in the healthiest condition possible with deep functional roots to sustain growth and tolerate summer stress,  we achieved that prior to summer and part of the reason the greens have survived the lack of irrigation for 8 days with some very high temperatures without loss so far, however the battle for the greens has only just begun. The root depth and health of the greens turf has suffered and will be less tolerant to stresses such as disease, pests, heat, moisture along with wear from traffic, mowing and also less tolerant of herbicides with increased risk of injury from products normally considered safe to use.
We have already applied wetting agents to overcome any hydrophobic problems the lack of water has caused, alternate mow days will continue for the foreseeable future, we will compress our preventative fungicide application, and herbicide application to the front 9 greens will be restricted, this will mean crab grass and saltene control will be effected. Light spoon feeding applications of fertiliser will be applied 7 daily to improve health, constant monitoring of root health will be a priority.
Another option should the greens "harden" up as we have noticed when changing holes, will be needle tining this will allow air into the profile to provide oxygen for roots to breath.

Recovery work for green surrounds has commenced initially through applications of wetting agents and irrigation, we wait for the response and see how much comes back naturally and by the end of the week we will have decided to either seed these areas after coring or transition the areas back to couch grass, areas will remain roped off to reduce traffic.

Fairway recovery will consist of wetting agent application and irrigation, these areas will start to recover immediately a scheduled light application of fertiliser will encourage the process.

Tees have come through excellently and will require minimal recovery work.

For tees and fairways Dollar spot will become a severe issue with conditions over the past 2 days humid nights and how we were forced to water favouring development.

I hope you find this informative and answers your questions regarding how we plan to recover areas.

In another post I will answer some questions relating to the  main line break I have received.

An interesting statistic over the last 8 days, the average daily evapotranspiration rate (measure of moisture loss through evaporation and plant use) was approx. 6.8mm, we were replacing that loss by handwatering on average with 600L tanks per green which applies only 1.5mm equivalent precipitation to our averaged sized green, as you can see there is a huge discrepancy of 42.4mm over the week. 

I am not one to dwell on negatives so to finish off I would like to concentrate on the positives, one of the biggest positives was the remarkable resilience the tees and greens have shown so far, last summer was the first summer our long time members can remember never to have lost turf on greens, even under the stress of the last 8 days no turf loss as yet resulted a very good indication of the health of the greens and the success of maintenance programs implemented over the last few years.

The fairway area of the front 9 is 6Ha only a small proportion of that area has been effected, the vast majority of turf area remains very healthy and vigorously growing yet again indicating the health of the turf going into this event.

Lastly events like these also provide an opportunity to highlight our weak areas, (the first to suffer) in this case our surrounds, to evaluate why these areas did not hold up well and develop strategies and implement plans to improve their performance.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Irrigation Progress

Well after some difficulties obtaining the correct fittings and other frustrating delays out of our control, the main line break was fixed late this afternoon, (Friday) but we still cant use the system until the concrete used for 'chocking" the pipe cures, best case scenario Sunday morning, the flushing and gradually building pressure up will then commence.

Tomorrow (Saturday) is D Day for the greens, so far they are hanging on with the limited water from handwatering from tanks however they are under moisture stress and tinkering on the edge, we continue to do everything we can to avoid loss of green areas.  Saturday will see a rise in temperatures back to the mid 30's and will place added heat and moisture stress. My concern is not the immediate impact but the knock on effect this will have on the turf weakening and reducing the root depth, hence the turfs ability to tolerate other stresses that will become obvious in the next few weeks, more on that once we get the irrigation system up and running. 

Tee Boxes have held up well but the green surrounds are now drying quicker than we can water and wilting from the outside in as we try to create a barrier between this drying effect and the greens. Ropes are up on the worst effected surrounds to limit traffic

The fairways whilst having a great deal of dry patch have more healthy turf than not, they do not look great but recovery should be quick as long as we can operate the irrigation system by Sunday. The short roughs are the worst effected with bleached areas which will take longer to recover, tho they are not as critical as other areas. 

I repeat my request for cart users to be vigilant when driving and avoid if possible and obvious dry areas wilting, by driving over these areas you are crushing the cell structure causing death to the turf as can be seen in the picture.
As can be seen tyre tracks from carts have crushed the wilted plant.

We have limited equipment use on the front 9 as a protection measure, greens are being mowed alternate days, fairways, surrounds and roughs not cut this week, unfortunately the Front 9 is not anywhere near its best condition for the Junior open this weekend, we are simply trying to limit damage caused by machinery use whilst the turf is under this stress.

I will expand on any issues, likely outcomes from this period of no water access and our response once irrigation recommences, please bare with us under these very trying conditions and let your fellow members know of this blog and the reasons the front 9 is as it is. 

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Irrigation update

Just a quick update on our irrigation problems on the front 9 -
We have been advised the necessary fittings are in transport, likely to be delivered sometime Thursday with a hopeful resolution on Friday.
In the meantime hand watering greens and tees from mobile tanks continues.
Cooler weather at present is being appreciated by staff and turf alike as we continue to protect the greens and critical play areas during this difficult time.
The fairways are browning in patches as expected but are holding up well considering, recovery will be relatively quick once water is available.

Thank you for your understanding.