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.