Friday, January 31, 2014

16th Green

This summer has been long, hot and very challenging in many ways with different issues arising at various times, it wouldn't be summer if it wasn't, we have brought the greens, and the course in general through some pretty difficult and hot temperatures, overall we are pleased with course conditions to date, but it hasn't been without headaches and a few stressful moments none more so than the 16th green at present.

 The 16th green is struggling at the moment, a combination of factors have lead to its appearance of thin weak turf with small dead patches. This green is one of a few that does regularly concern us through summer.
This green has a history of poor performance dating back to its construction, many members often comment that the green has "never been right" and true when I first arrived after the summer of 2007 the green was half dead, the following summer it struggled to get through despite increased maintenance measures.
The cause was pretty obvious from the outset, poor nutrient, CEC, and moisture holding capacity lead to poor root growth resulting in weak thin turf surface with little tolerance to any stress or unfavourable conditions, any incidence of disease, insect pest or simply heat specially under heavy traffic would have far greater impact on this green than many others.

Not long after I commenced I initiated a modified management program tailored for this green with the objective of increasing beneficial organisms activity, increase Nutrient, CEC, and moisture holding capacity increasing root function and depth in order to create a stronger more resilient surface.
This program has been successful to date, with the last 3 seasons having little adverse effects, many commented the green was the best on course or the best it has ever been, albeit with careful management and nursing the green at times through summer.
Even with the present thin weak turf, it still is in much better condition than it would have been without the implementation of the program.

So why after the last three successful seasons is this green performing so poorly ?
The amount of amendments required will take some years to fully reach recommended levels, during the time it takes to accomplish this we are behind the 8 ball during periods of stress such as heat, heavy traffic, low mowing heights etc. The middle part of this summer has been very hot with consistent temperatures around 35 degrees, some unusually humid days hasn't helped the cause and combined with a few of the previously mentioned factors has lead to weak spots developing, but by no means the only reason for its present condition.
Even with its improved performance through summer the past few years, one aspect was still letting us down, not just with this green but many others on the course, the last few seasons have been terrible for Crab grass in our greens, old methods were not as effective as previous years in controlling this weed so this year we have been far more aggressive with our techniques with fantastic results so far, unfortunately it has effected the roots of the Bent grass, whist most greens have tolerated this with outstanding results the 16th has not been as tolerating as we had hoped and combined with a disease condition (Rhyzotonia Spp) effecting root function along with the above issues the green has developed the conditions we are now experiencing.
 The green is not on its death bed, it is struggling at the moment and we need to nurse it back to full health. I am modifying our management of this green and reducing the stress placed on the green I can control. Weather conditions, player behaviour and traffic along with disease and pest pressure are some I cannot.
The height of cut will be increased further on this green than others, mowing will be by walk behind not by triplex greens mowers, green speed should only be minimally affected, no herbicide control measures for weeds and increased nutrient and moisture management will be just some of the protective measures implemented.

This green may be slower than others as a result but will be alive !

In the week after the Ladies Summer Cup we may needle tine the green should it become necessary which will have little impact on ball roll but will go a long away to improving root health and surface conditions.

I will be doing all that is physically possible to nurse the green back and I am confident a full recovery will result.  

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Todays heat

7:30am already 30 degrees, as we head into the second day of 40 degrees temps.
Course water tanks are filled
Greens are watered
If you are playing in the heat today stay hydrated take heat precautions and expect slow greens as we have taken the same precautions with the greens.
Greens not cut this morning .. irrigated instead
Take care

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Putting Green Extension

The putting green extension is on target for a late February opening we are cutting at 8mm and just completed its first topdress today.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Sprinkler Maintenance

Prior to Xmas I was performing some sprinkler maintenance in the shed when a member visited and expressed surprise at the degree of maintenance and its purpose. It forms the basis of the first post for 2014.

What the member walked in on was a complete sprinkler service to a Valve In Head sprinkler (V.I.H) , we service up to 10% of the overall sprinkler numbers per year for various reasons, the most common is for normal preventative maintenance, in this case the sprinkler had stopped operating.
Depending on the service performed it may be carried out in the field, removing the internal mechanisms of the sprinkler only, other times as in this case we remove the complete sprinkler replacing with an already serviced sprinkler so a full service can be performed.
Below a brief of each step
The sprinkler is dug out, replaced with a serviced complete sprinkler and wired to the system
 The sprinkler is brought back to the shed and, all components are carefully inspected as each is disassembled   
On the right, the Pilot valve and control tubing removed along with the sprinkler mechanism ready for cleaning
Internal of main casing without sprinkler mechanism, valve assembly at base
Sprinkler mechanism before cleaning on the left. Filters removed and all internal parts removed from sprinkler on the right
Left - gear / drive assembly removed, inspected and cleaned
Right Valve assembly removed, inspected and replaced 
Pilot Valve assembly, (and cause of the problem) on the left oxidised iron deposits, on the right the way it should look after being cleaned.
The oxidised iron prevented the free movement of the plunger and components.

 After cleaning and blowing out the control tubing the sprinkler is reassembled and tested 
 One serviced sprinkler ready to go 
The main reason for servicing is to clear any foreign matter effecting the performance of the sprinkler, Iron oxidising in the sprinkler is the main cause, while the Cal-Clear units do a great job in keeping the system free of oxidised iron deposits, the sprinklers at the end of the system are exposed to stagnant water and air, perfect oxidising agents.
Cleaning filters is the most common maintenance required, Clearing control tubing and valve blockages, cleaning / replacing main valves, gear drives and pilot assemblies are other maintenance required at times.

One of the most time consuming maintenance practices for the irrigation system has nothing to do with internal components or operation, it is trimming around sprinklers and turf valves, with close to 700 to trim and carried out at least 3 times from irrigation start up, it is one of the more common maintenance work.