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Archive for the ‘Golf Course Superintendents’ Category

Zoysia Greens

Posted by mynormas on August 3, 2017

There are many more Zoysia greens in Malaysia than I know. I’m not sure if that sound right; like, why should I be expected to know everything about Malaysian greens right?

But the thing is identifying grass is not easy and many grasses on greens or fairways have been misidentified and eventually, a different (read: wrong) approach to maintenance was employed.

One golf course insisted they had Tifdwarf on their greens and it took about 11 PowerPoint slides of their grass side by side with Tifdwarf and Zoysia cultivars from various golf courses to convince them that it actually is Zoysia. The fact that many fertiliser and machinery suppliers have also said the same thing before me helped too.

I wonder how many more clubs that actually have Zoysia on their greens but does not recognise it or are in denial? There was this one club who continues to try replant the Zoysia on their greens with Tifdwarf. I told them that Zoysia is a lot more robust than Tifdwarf and that “Resistance is futile”. He persisted and planted almost 20 hole-cutter-sized Tifdwarf sods on the Zoysia ‘colony’ of the greens. When I came back a month or two later, the Zoysia had overwhelmed the Tifdwarf sods and colonised even more of the green.

I admit it is hard to identify Zoysia because it can be almost the same as Serangoon except the leaf blades are harder to the touch.

Here’s a combo picture of four golf courses in Malaysia with Zoysia greens. Until I stitched this combo picture, I didn’t realise that the Zoysias could look so different. The two top ones had smaller leaf blades compared to the two bottom courses. The difference is that the two top courses bought their Zoysia from nurseries and planted the Zoysia on their greens while the two bottom clubs had their greens invaded by Zoysia over the years. What is surprising though is that only one club had Zoysia fairways while the other had Cowgrass fairways; so where did the Zoysia come from? It is a mystery to the superintendent too but then to be fair, he was barely three months there when I met him.

Comparison Zoysia

The names at the bottom of the pictures are the Malaysian states where the clubs are located.

How are the greens’ performance? Quite good compared to greens of other grasses located nearby. They’re not as fast, but in some instances, they’re not as dead either.

One superintendent says that his Zoysia greens can give him speeds of up to 9 feet. I measured the one in Sarawak at 8 feet with no recent rolling or double mowing and they were using ordinary agriculture fertiliser too (which I thought was danged impressive) while one other club thinks it is around 7… or 6.

“Can I borrow your Stimpmeter?” I said, wanting to be sure of the speed.

“No”

“Do you have a Stimpmeter?”

“No, that’s why I can’t lend you mine”

“Do you know what a Stimpmeter is?”

“No, that’s why I don’t have one”

I started to open my mouth to  say something else but then thought better of it, I mean, with such impeccable logic, there really is no point in asking further.

Zoysia grass do have a place on greens; after all, rather than spending a large sum of money trying to maintain a grass that just doesn’t want to grow on your greens, might as well grow the grass that volunteers to be there, sometimes on its own accord.

Many years ago I was visiting a club that was in the process of renovating their course and I noticed that the pin was set on a patch of light green grass on dying greens. I knew that Zoysia can tolerate a high salinity irrigation water better than other grass and because this particular course is in a coastal area, reminded the officer taking me round to test the water of the irrigation pond. Why? Because then it will be easier to choose the grass that is suited for the renovation.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Had to find a picture where a poor green (and the visitor) can be anonymous…

So, if you do have Zoysia on greens, don’t be shy about it. The greens can be good greens and you can turn it into a marketing attraction too (thats what I told one club but I think they are going to renovate their course with another type of grass anyway).

Zoysia on greens? Manage it and be proud of it is what I’m saying.

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Posted in Golf Course, Golf Course Superintendents, Greens, Landscape, Padang Golf | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Kesian Rumput

Posted by mynormas on February 23, 2017

Meracun terlalu besar dan tidak sama rata.

Meracun terlalu besar dan tidak sama rata.

Pernahkan anda melihat orang menggunakan racun untuk rumput yang tumbuh pinggir jalan? Atau di tebing longkang? Saya selalu lihat ini dan saya akan tertanya: siapakah yang kurang pandai di sini? Orang yang tanam atau orang yang meracun? Dah tanam lepas tu racun: itu kerja kurang pandai. Apa pun alasan, kalau ia tidak dilakukan dengan pengawasan ataupun pemikiran; ia memburukkan pemandangan.

Saya faham, memotong tebing atau ‘edging’ adalah kerja rumit dan memerlukan kesabaran. Ada orang guna mesin sandang dan ada orang guna cangkul. Saya pernah tengok orang guna scraper untuk buat kerja edging ini.

Kenapa mesti bersusah payah? Kerana sama seperti kaum lelaki yang baru lepas gunting rambut; tebing atau edge yang dipotong kemas memberi gambaran kekemasan kepada suatu kawasan rumput.Beberapa tahun dahulu seorang rakan sekerja pernah memberitahu saya yang pemain golf berkata mereka dapati padang golf saya adalah sangat kemas dari biasa dan mereka tidak tahu kenapa. Saya tahu; tahun itu adalah tahun pertama saya melakukan kerja-kerja trimming tepi jalan.

brushcutter-path-edge-002-2

Nampak kemas, kan?

Saya tidak faham bila saya lihat di tempat lain, orang lebih gemar menggunakan racun untuk mengawal rumput di tepi jalan. Kalau buat dengan berhati-hati mungkin ia boleh di terima, tetapi selalu, ia dibuat ala kadar  dengan semburan yang besar dan tidak sama rata. Selain dari tidak cantik, masalah weed sucession juga akan timbul jika racun yang sama digunakan setiap bulan.

Kesian rumput. Baik tak payah tanam kalau nak di racun.

Kesian rumput. Baik tak payah tanam kalau nak di racun.

 

pgr-primo-comparisonSelain dari menggunakan racun, saya mencadangkan penggunaan pembantut pertumbuhan rumput atau kalau mengikut DBP – regulator pertumbuhan yang akan melambatkan pertumbuhan. Ia perlu di ulang sembur tetapi begitu juga dengan racun. Kesan sampingannya ialah rumput akan tumbuh lebih padat kerana ruas atau nod nya semakin rapat. Jika anda ingin maklumat lebih lanjut (dan nak tahu apa orang putih kata) Google ‘Plant Growth regulator for turf grass’ atau hubungi pembekal anda.

Saya pernah menggunakan PGR jenama Primo pada kadar 6ml untuk satu knapsack kerana kekurangan pekerja untuk menjaga kekemasan tepi jalan saya. Tentunya saya lakukan ujian dahulu untuk mempastikan jumlah itu tidak terlalu tinggi atau rendah untuk rumput spesis itu.

Posted in Fields, Golf Course, Golf Course Superintendents, Landscape, Lanskap, Maintenance, Padang, Padang Bola, Padang Golf, Rumput halaman rumah, Rumput secara am, stadium, Taman | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Racun; membunuh

Posted by mynormas on November 23, 2016

Kebanyakan racun yang digunakan di padang golf adalah untuk membunuh makhluk perosak. Tetapi jika salah bancuh dan salah sembur, racun yang sama boleh membahayakan rumput, tukang sembur dan pengguna padang (pemain/penonton). Sementara itu, salah bancuh dan salah sembur juga boleh membazir masa, racun, tenaga dan menyebabkan kelalian atau imuniti makhluk perosak (serangga/kulat) kepada racun yang digunakan. Ramai orang tidak sangka penjagaan padang yang profesional perlukan pengetahuan matematik untuk beberapa kiraan; salah satunya ialah untuk mengira jumlah racun yang perlu di sembur.

bad-spray-rough

Salah satu nozel semburan itu terlebih racun.

Berapa banyak padang yang menggunakan alat penyemmbur racun tetapi tidak pernah kalibrasi alat mereka? Adakah mereka membunuh, membazir atau melalikan?

Di sini saya sertakan slaid yang boleh digunakan untuk kalibrasi alat penyembur. Sebagai bonus, dalam slaid itu jug termasuk tips untuk penyediaan alat tersebut sebelum penyemburan. Ia adalah sebahagian dari kursus penjagaan padang yang saya lakukan.

Kita perlu amalkan penggunaan racun yang berhemah dan lebih bertanggungjawab, terutama di musim hujan.

Amat malang sekali bila kebanyakan padang di Malaysian hanya menggunakan pekerja asing tanpa latihan dan tanpa peralatan keselamatan untuk penyemburan racun yang berpotensi sangat merbahaya.

Di kebanyakan padang di Malaysia, pembekal akan latih pekerja, pekerja itu akan latih pekerja lain, yang kemudian akan latih pekerja baru, yang akan latih pekerja baru turun kapalterbang minggu lepas dan seterusnya bertahun-tahun kemudian.

 

 

 

Posted in Fields, Golf club, Golf Course, Golf Course Superintendents, Greens, Landscape, Lanskap, Padang, Padang Bola, Padang Golf, Rumput halaman rumah | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Teluk Intan Golf &CC

Posted by mynormas on November 8, 2016

The town of Teluk Intan is situated about 170km northwest of Kuala Lumpur. It doesn’t sound very far but it is actually 50km away from the North-South Expressway and you have to drive along a rural road flanked by oil palm plantations. Yet about 20 minutes away from this town, lies a golf club. I’ve lost count how many times I’ve been asked “There’s a golf club in Teluk Intan?” when I mention the club. Its actually a good club; simple design, flat fairways, decent greens, cheap fees and few golfers.Truth be told, I was their consultant for about three years. I avoid talking about my clients because I think of it as a client privilege that I don’t talk about it, but we’ve mutually parted ways and I feel that I just had to write about this golf club.

map-tigcc-far

Gives meaning to the phrase ‘in the middle of nowhere’ right? Be the first of your friends, or rather, be the first WITH your friends to try the course and the town. To you non-Malaysians, I just want to point out that that’s the Malacca Straits on the left.

First, lets talk about Teluk Intan town itself. Legend has it the original name of the place was Teluk Mak Intan; ‘Teluk’ is the Malay word for bay and ‘Mak Intan’ is said to be the name of a beautiful lady who happens to be the daughter of a prominent business man based there (it wasn’t a town yet back then). Other sources (Wikipedia) says that she was a prominent business woman herself.

When the British colonialists came to the area, they decided it was a good place to set up a port to transport all the tin mined from the surrounding areas so they built a railway line (now defunct), a port (ditto),  a town (still there) and presumably a golf course (not immediately but one was built eventually).

The then-Resident of Perak, Sir Hugh Low in 1874 wanted to give the place an administrative status and it became a town. Probably some ambitious lower-rank bureaucrat finds it difficult to pronounce ‘Mak Intan’ (Hugh Low himself was said to pronounce it as ‘Malunting’) and/or thinks it wise to stroke the ego of the then acting-governor of the Straits Settlement, Sir General Archibald Anson and renamed it as Teluk Anson in 1882. Gee, I wish I had creative (read: ass-kissing) subordinates like that. It wasn’t till 1982 when the then Sultan of Perak, DYMM Almarhum Sultan Idris II changed the name back to Teluk Intan.

The golf club was originally in the Teluk Intan town itself but in the 1990s the local authority offered the club members a bigger piece of land enough for 18 holes in exchange for the 9-hole club and clubhouse in town. The local authority actually owned the land so I don’t think the members had much choice anyway. The local authority still owned the new club and they found it more efficient to lease the club to an operator.

The new course was what one would call a flat course, mainly because it was built on a flat piece of land with no hills whatsoever that they can use to shape the course. It was also close enough to the river that flows to the sea that it had a high water-table that limits any digging to shape the course too. The green was… different and what I mean by that is that it is different from most clubs and different from one green to the other too. But hey… as I said earlier, the greens were more decent than a few Klang Valley golf clubs I’ve seen so let’s not make too big a deal about that.

Its quite a ‘lonely club’ in the sense that if you look at it from the air, all you see surrounding it are oil palm plantations. Here’s a picture of it at night. The picture in the daytime is a little bit crowded with clouds.teluk-intan-google-earth-lonely-club

I suppose originally it was maintained with a complete fleet of machinery but like many golf clubs in Malaysia, no plans were made with regard to long-term machinery replacement and they keep losing machines. On top of that, they also lose workers and after that, golfers; when the novelty of a new golf club and in fact, the novelty of golf wore out. Fewer and fewer golfers came by until one day some KL golfers forgot there was a golf club in Teluk Intan.

A few years back, one of the original investor in the operating company left and the remaining investor, a self-made rags-to-riches guy decided to take positive steps to rebrand or renew the club. I was engaged for a one-year period and a hefty sum of money was forked out to purchase new machinery.

A year later there were obvious improvements and even the local council praised the changes at the club. Of course this is all comparative, either in terms of current condition compared to its condition in previous years and to other clubs in the area. I was asked to stay on as consultant for two more years after that. I guess you could say I was the de facto superintendent.

More importantly this, this is a case of a little club that tried. It wanted to improve and it did its best to improve. It would be a shame if golfers continue to ignore it. The operator, the owner, the committee and the staff worked hard to improve it with limited resources. I’ve seen urban clubs with better resources, experienced staff and educated superintendents that don’t give a hoot about course conditions, preferring to play the victim game and blame the weather, the budget, the construction, the boss, the committee, the grass, the previous superintendent; anyone but themselves.

Teluk Intan G&CC is the only long-term client that insists I do a presentation at a meeting to their biggest boss every month, where he will then question the superintendent and club manager. Other clubs make do with a written report that usually go unread or perhaps misunderstood (except perhaps by the superintendent who sometimes ignore it). There is also another exception to this; one club who insisted on written reports and whose superintendent was being targeted for early retirement went through my reports with a magnifying glass, accusing the superintendent of NOT implementing my recommendations. He was – diligently. Which resulted in his greenspeed increasing from an average of about 7’6″ to 9′ plus (one green had a reading of 11′ +) in two months WITHOUT reducing their cutting height. Don’t get mixed up: this is not Teluk Intan G&CC I’m talking about: this other club’s superintendent’s job is now safe; mine wasn’t; my contract wasn’t renewed and seven months later, this club up north close to the border of Thailand (are you reading this?) still haven’t paid me my fees yet. Teluk Intan pays me regularly.

In Teluk Intan G&CC, the green fee is cheap, the fairways are nice, the greens are small, the bunkers are shallow and the design is what I would describe as ‘Highway’ type of design, y’know, the kind where bunkers are in the rough and the fairways are like roads leading to the green. The cost of hotel and food in Teluk Intan is pretty low too.

It is perfect for new golfers or hackers or for those who like to play without pressure of other golfers, without feeling being cheated by high green fees with bad greens or just to have fun playing on a totally different course. I know your home club is good, but how many times can you play the same course over and over again?

Should the temptation of ‘cheating’ on your club arise, call Teluk Intan Golf and Country Club at: 016-417 2661 and speak to Khairul Anuar, he’s the friendly Club Manager or just go to their website for more details. While you are there, don’t forget to visit the leaning tower of Teluk Intan and other attractions too and do stuff.

 

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Tukang Kebun Glamour

Posted by mynormas on October 20, 2016

23 tahun selepas saya memulakan kerjaya dalam bidang penjagaan rumput di Malaysia, saya masih lagi menerima soalan: “Ada kerja macam ni??”. Jadi saya rasa teruja dan seronok bila berpeluang bersama-sama dengan orang orang yang mempunyai kerjaya yang sama, dari serata dunia di Bukit Kiara di seminar anjuran GCSAM/AGIF. Kehadiran saya ke seminar tersebut telah di taja oleh GulfRich Corp. Terima kasih.

Khemah syarikat yang menunjukkan mesin baru mereka.

Khemah syarikat yang menunjukkan mesin baru mereka.

Perkembangan terkini bidang penjagaan rumput telah berkembang pesat berbanding dengan apa yang saya lalui 20 tahun lalu. Kini terdapat mesin pemotong rumput besar (mempunyai lima unit pisau pemotong atau dipanggil 5-gang mowers) jenis hybrid yang kelima-lima unit pisau pemotong nya di putar menggunakan motor elektrik dan juga mampu menyalurkan tenaga elektrik ke putaran tayar dan mampu menaikkan kekuatan keseluruhan mesin, di bantu dengan sebuah enjin Kubota 25 kuasa-kuda, kepada sekuat 40 kuasa-kuda.

Saya juga tertarik kepada mesin pemotong yang mempunyai pisau jenis reel yang boleh di laraskan kekerapan pemotongan nya (frequency of clip) yang memberi pemotongan lebih rapi dan kemas. Saya percaya ini perkara yang pertama seumpamanya di dunia.

Atau pisau rekaan Jepun yang mempunyai ‘offset’ yang boleh di laras utk memberi pemotongan yang lebih agresif dengan hanya menjarakkan di antara reel dan bedknife. Saya di beritahu ini adalah teknologi eksklusif kepada jenama ini sahaja.

Saya jumpa sebuah alat yang nampak sempoi tetapi mampu mengukur luas kawasan melalui sistem GPS dan mampu menyimpan data di dalam komputer anda. Ia juga mampu mengukur kelembapan tanah serta EC (electrical conductivity yang memberitahu kita tahap ‘kemasinan’ tanah dan juga sebahagian jenis baja). Dengan alat ini kita mampu mengukur kelembapan padang pada waktu siang selepas siram dan juga lapan jam kemudian. Sangat berguna kepada orang yang tidak mahu meneka dan mahu lebih bersifat saintifik dalam penjagaan padang mereka. Insya Allah saya akan order satu untuk kegunaan saya.

Alat canggih mengesan keadaan tanah untuk rumput (Jejaka tampan tidak termasuk).

Alat canggih mengesan keadaan tanah untuk rumput (Jejaka tampan tidak termasuk dalam pakej).

Berapa orang dari kita yang boleh kata kita potong rumput setinggi 4mm? Itu setinggi beberapa keping duit siling ya. Tetapi dengan teknologi sekarang, ada orang dah potong hingga 2.8mm. Cuba lihat pembaris dan beritahu saya di mana kah letaknya 2.8mm atau 3.6mm. Kini ada tolok canggih untuk mengukur ketinggian rumput begitu; sementara itu ada antara kita masih potong rumput padang bola dengan brushcutter sandang belakang. Untuk pengetahuan, padang bola di potong pada ketinggian lebih kurang 25mm. Boleh kah anda ukur ketinggian potongan dengan brushcutter?

Itu hanyalah sebahagian sahaja dari kemajuan terbaru yang datang ke negara kita. Kami di khabarkan akan ada pemotong rumput robot yang akan sampai ke negara jiran tidak lama lagi. Sementara itu, masih ada di kalangan kita yang bertanya “Ada kerja macam ini?” bila kami kata kerjaya kami adalah penjagaan rumput.

 

Video untuk mesin hybrid.

Video untuk pisau bolehlaras FoC.

Video untuk mesin buatan Jepun dengan offset bolehlaras.

Posted in Fields, Golf Course, Golf Course Superintendents, Padang, Padang Bola, Padang Golf, Rumput halaman rumah, stadium, Taman | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

Fertiliser: less is more

Posted by mynormas on August 9, 2016

I was doing training at a golf club the past couple of weeks. It was about basic chemical application, y’know, calibration, safety, pest identification and stuff. Since it was the fourth time for the club (the superintendent organised it every alternate year), I thought I’d slip in a module about fertilising, just to keep the training interesting and hopefully to ensure I get invited back next year. Two things came to mind:

One. I was explaining about the nutrients required by turf and how important each nutrient in its own way to the health of the turf. I was writing on the white board when suddenly I drew a wooden barrel (or cask, if you prefer) and mentioned about Liebig’s Law of Minimum. I said that according to Mr. Liebig, each nutrient is important and lacking in any will affect the plant’s health.

Liebig's barrel

Liebig used the image of a barrel with unequal staves to explain how plant growth is limited by the element in shortest supply, just as the level of water in the barrel is limited by the shortest stave.

During the lunch break a participant showed me a picture of the Liebig’s barrel sent by the superintendent (he was sitting at the back of the class) to their group WhatsApp presumably because my drawing was bad. It then occurred to me that I actually read about Liebig’s Law 22 or 23 years ago! I remember because I read it in the local public library. I know it was that long ago because back then, knowledge wasn’t the only thing I was pursuing at the library and when I got married, I largely stopped going to the library.

Anyway, Liebig’s law was more than 150 years old and there probably are people who disagreed with him but the fact that I recalled it at the particular instant reminded me about something I heard or read about the mysteries of the mind and how we don’t actually lose information in the brain, so I came to the logical conclusion: I am more than just a pretty face.

The second thing that struck my mind was when I was explaining about measuring green sizes and the participants eagerly asked that it be included in the practical session later in the evening. Know this; most of my participants are not particularly fond of practical sessions because it involves a lot of calculations. Know this too: many superintendents don’t know or don’t measure their green sizes.

Training day at KLGCC

I told my participants that knowing green sizes is important because it will be easier to weigh the amount of fertiliser needed for each green – based on fertilising rate – as compared to calibrating the fertiliser spreader or worse, having no system at all. It would also make it easy to buy close to exact amount of fertiliser needed instead of the usual one ton figure when what you really need is 0.8 ton for 18 greens for six months (all figures not real).

As an example, if we decide to fertilise at a rate of 1.5kg/100 sq.m then green 7 which is 600 sq.m in size will get 9kg, green 8 (703 sq.m) will get 10.5kg, green 16 (345 sq.m) shall receive 5.2kg of fertiliser brand Y which, when calculated with the percentage of nitrogen in the fertiliser, we can say that each green receives 150g of nitrogen per 100sq.m.

Furthermore if the total sizes of all 19 greens in your course is 9,200sq.m, and you think you will stick with applying 1.5kg/100 sq.m/month of that particular fertiliser, then you’ll know you need 125kg of it every month or about 750kg for the next six months. Why order more? Yet it is quite common for clubs to order an exact one ton despite the protestations of the supplier “NO! Don’t order so much! Order just enough for your needs!”. Ahem.

It is disappointing that I can still find Malaysian golf clubs that apply fertiliser at the rate of one bag per green regardless of green or fertiliser bag sizes. The other method I’ve seen was when I was told that this club used the setting ‘J’ on brand ‘X’ fertiliser spreader. That could’ve sound reasonable except that the spreader was never calibrated and the superintendent doesn’t know the rate of fertiliser he applied.

In the first club, after measuring the greens and weighing the fertiliser according to the size of greens and rate of application, they cut down their fertiliser use from 16 bags to 12 bags per month. Guess what? The greens were greener and in better condition two months later. In the other club, they chose to be secretive about the amount of fertiliser used before measurement or maybe they didn’t know or maybe they were upset that a consultant was forced on them and didn’t want to cooperate: didn’t matter  to me, based on a few factors, I chose a new rate and the greens improved too.

If you think by saving the club’s money every month, producing  greener and better greens means that I’m getting a huge paycheck; you’re wrong. Despite the improvements at one particular club, it still hasn’t paid me for the last four months of my consultancy there. No kidding.

Posted in Golf Course, Golf Course Superintendents, Greens, Padang Golf | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Malaysia’s Greens’ Grass

Posted by mynormas on July 18, 2016

The long Aidil Fitri leave (I took about a week off) at the beginning of July took a toll on my schedule. Last week was a pretty hectic week. Looking back at last week, I was struck by the coincidence that on Monday I was consulting a golf course with Tifeagle greens; Tuesday Tifdwarf; Wednesday Serangoon and on Thursday it was a golf course with greens covered with Zoysia . On Friday I visited two football fields in two different states with grass that in Malaysia we call cacamerba grass. Saturday morning found me on another football field that I was working on myself.

Grass on greens

Do pardon the plastic ruler on Tifeagle; I dared not bring a metal ruler through airport security. The Tifdwarf picture was actually to highlight a problem, so it wasn’t the best picture of Tifdwarf ever.

Ya, I took a side job maintaining a football field mainly because I got tired of the maintaining-a-football-field-is-harder-than-a-golf-course-you-wouldn’t-know-coz-you’ve-never-done-it argument. Well now I have and I’m pretty sure the field looked much better than it did before. Maintaining a football field, to me is like maintaining the fairway of a golf course, though I would treat the area in front of the goal like greens with more frequent cultural practice and tender loving care. It wasn’t hard at all. Well, maybe except for the area in front of the goal but fortunately, the football team have agreed to purchase a mobile goalpost for their practice sessions (think of moving the pins on the greens to spread the wear and tear).

Anyway, this article is about the grass on greens. I didn’t realise we had that many variety on Malaysian greens, though some golfers may argue on many golf courses there’s a lot more variety of grass on just one green! Tifdwarf offtypes, weeds, algae and one green with palm tree in the middle notwithstanding, Malaysian golfers do have a choice of grass to putt on. Other than the four I mentioned earlier, we also have Mini-Verde, Bentgrass Penn A4 (in Cameron Highlands, I’m not sure what Bentgrass variety was planted at that Sabah highland course) and also not forgetting Paspalum Supreme on Malaysia’s premier course.

me normas on Bentgrass green (2)

Bentgrass Penn A4 greens. I consulted for the reconstruction of the 1st Nine. Actually didn’t like the idea of Bentgrass but accepted the challenge. This picture was taken in Nov 2014.

Grass species doesn’t affect greenspeed as much as what many golfers, club management and owners think. Granted, some grass species can be mowed at lower heights and that is one factor for greenspeed but I have seen Tifeagle mown at 3.5 mm with speeds of around 7’5″ and I’ve seen Tifdwarf cut at 4.2 mm with speeds of up to 11’9″ and that measurement was taken by tournament referees, not club staff. The golf course with Serangoon greens I visited a few days ago? After just one roll I saw the speed on one green went up from 8’8″ to 9’7″ at the cutting height of 4mm.

What works at one golf course may not work on another for whatever reason that may not fit the species. It could be climate or local conditions like shade or management practices, old habits or even budget. Many Malaysian clubs are willing to spend a lot of money during construction but balk at the comparatively higher maintenance cost a few years down the road.

About the golf course with Zoysia greens; please don’t ask me the name of the club because they haven’t actually embraced it yet. It started out as a golf course with a lot of weeds on the greens. I’m talking about big areas of Cowgrass (Axonopus compressus), spurge, sedges and of course Zoysia encroaching from the rough.  In the first few months I realised that ridding the greens of weeds was a losing battle because of many factors so I decided to do what a doctor friend of mine call the concept of ‘triage’ where you help those that can be saved and leave those that can’t for later, if you have time.

Now some of the greens there are about 80% Zoysia. They look good, much better than before though admittedly, they putt slow. I’ve made some suggestions to fasten it up a bit but going from experience, it’ll be a few months before they get the hang of any new maintenance practice. When they do and start to market their unique greens as such, you as a golfer should try it out. Expand your experience, if it’s slow, adjust your putting. The only time you should have a problem with greenspeed, is when the speed on the 18 greens are inconsistent from one green to the other. Otherwise, by the third green, you should already get the hang of any reasonable speed.

I’ve been lucky to have worked with many of the grasses I mentioned above on an official basis whether as superintendent, club manager or as consultant. Didn’t the English say that ‘Variety is the spice of life’? It’s made for an interesting career.

I do recommend you try playing as many grasses on greens as possible. They are quite different to putt on you know. How different? Go ahead and play them. If you know the grass is different but you can’t feel/see the difference: try playing again. You’ll soon see, I’m sure, that it’ll enrich your experience as a golfer, even as it makes you poorer financially.

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It doesn’t come any more unique than this. Try putting around that.

Posted in Golf Course, Golf Course Superintendents, Greens, Maintenance, Padang Bola, Padang Golf | Leave a Comment »

The Consultant

Posted by mynormas on May 24, 2016

I was with a client Golf Course Superintendent (CS) and he was telling me about a golfer that was gushing about the improvements in his course and wonders how the CS could manage such work in a short time during one of Malaysia’s hottest weather period ever. The superintendent said “I told him that now, we have a consultant who…” I held up my hand “No, you were 70% of it” I said “You, and your people did all of the work. We had a discussion, yes, but you did the work. I have clubs that I have consulted for much longer and there was no difference, sometimes their condition got worse”

The CS blinked. “How could that be?” he asked.

“Well, not all superintendents are willing to listen. There are those who felt that a consultant was forced on them when they don’t need one. I have a superintendent who will do the opposite of my recommendations and there was one who would deliberately take my recommendations to extremes” I continued to give him two specific examples of the incidents.

Unfortunately for the golf course, when the CS did the opposite of my recommendations, it back-fired and as for the part where a superintendent took my recommendation to the extreme, I was lucky that in my report I showed pictures of two other clubs that received the same recommendation with good result because it was done with common sense.

I just could not bring myself to put those kind of things in my report or mention it to the management. In one club when the GM – who was a friend – asked my opinion about a CS related to one of the cases I spoke of earlier.  I told him “I think he should be promoted, either to be a club manager or perhaps laterally as operations manager”

“Why?”

“He is loyal, qualified, has good relations with golfers and perhaps he has been in one position too long, exposing him to other jobs may improve his morale and perhaps even open a brand new career path for him”

I told my client CS “Some days I just want to resign from being their consultant. It has come to a stage where it can be embarrassing to admit I consulted for them. The incidents I quoted were for the things that I can follow up on but what about stuff that I can’t?  Like fertilising or chemical applications?”

There are of course, other clubs that can be a challenge too, for example clubs that has a case of ‘the improvement lust is strong but the financial flesh is weak’. Watching TV turns them on but they have no money for Viagra (for the clubs that are in that position usually are at an old, Viagra-needing age already). So they hire someone who can give suggestions that they can’t act on. Honestly, I usually stay on at these clubs because the CSs there are usually hard-working and full of initiative.

Then there are clubs where the management are perhaps are not clear on what they want. “I want to improve my golf course” they said “Sure” I replied and a couple of months later they’ll say “My fairways are still wet”. I said “Your fairways are wet during the rainy season and we can only work on them when they’re dry, in the meantime, we work on your greens”. “But my greens are fine” one particular boss said. So I showed him the before and after pictures of the greens because somehow the young CS managed to improve the greens in just two months.

The only club – so far – that I have refused to work as a consultant for is a club that the GM would continuously reduce the cutting height after I have asked that they be raised because of health issues. When explained, he would feign understanding and agreement but it would happen again within an hour of me leaving the club. I was engaged under a friend’s company so I told the friend; “Sorry, I’m busy and can’t cope”.

There are also some superintendents who don’t like to be friends (tongue in cheek) with me. Whenever I go to a club, whether at the invite of the management or as a customer, I do my best to contact the superintendent beforehand but I don’t know everyone and some superintendents live like hermits with no friends in the industry or not a member of the association so I don’t know who they are in which case I usually tell the management to ‘make sure the superintendent know I am coming’. Once or twice the management will be red-faced to explain the absence of the superintendent “I met him this morning!” was one reply I got; there was one ‘Emergency Leave’ and a recent ‘Very Busy’.

In general, it has always been a good experience, I enjoy the work though yesterday my wife said that soon, maybe I should look for a permanent job without so much of traveling because “… you are not getting any younger”. Hard to argue with that, the traveling is the toughest part of this job.

When I first started this consultant business a friend remarked “I have always imagined you as a consultant” I wasn’t that surprised and asked why, assuming the answer to be my knowledge, experience and luck in working for big or award-winning clubs.”Because you are always smiling and approachable”

Oh…

Posted in Golf Course, Golf Course Superintendents | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

A winner

Posted by mynormas on April 21, 2016

I was at a client club the other day going round the course with the superintendent. I was in crisis mode because their green no. 2 had the highest number of insects per square meter I’ve ever seen. Plus the hot weather was thinning out the other greens.

On one green, we met a flight of golfers and I as usual try to be unobtrusive without being unfriendly; a nod here, a smile there and a thumbs-up where appropriate. One of them approach us “Whatcha doing? Checking the greens?” he asked. “Yes” I whispered (one of his friend was putting). “The greens are quite fast now” he said. “Really?!” I said, wide-eyed. “Yes, really, it really is different from what it was before” or words to that effect. I’m assuming the ‘it’ he was referring to was the whole golf course.

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Just another green in another day on another golf course…

I pushed the superintendent to the front “Here’s the guy responsible for it. All his work” The golfer nodded to the super and the super was unsure of how to respond but I suppose it’s safe to say he was pretty proud and he should be.

He only has one triplex greensmower for 19 greens. That same mower is used for dethatching and rolling. One tractor pulled fairway mower, one unreliable front deck mower, one bunker raker and nine workers; four of which works for only half of the day. He mows his tees with backpack brushcutters. He fertilises his greens with slow-release greens’ grade fertiliser alternating with big-prilled oil palm fertiliser.

He has been working at the same course since the day it was planted with grass, in fact, he was one of the workers doing the planting. He stayed on through a few management changes and rose up through the ranks.

He doesn’t speak English and he doesn’t have formal training or even much education, what he has is a good attitude. He takes notes of almost everything that I said (doesn’t necessarily mean he does everything) and asks questions if he doesn’t understand. He is not afraid of trials and tests which I have come to fear more than he does but there were a few chemicals that I am using now that I learnt from him. He doesn’t complain or whine and he definitely does not have the victim mentality.

What he has achieved came through a victor mentality of wanting to try anything new.

Sure, the greens and even the course may not be much to KL folks but considering the resources he has, the location of the club and the price golfers pay; I think the club did well to improve the course and at least this flight of golfers agree.

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Those black things? Those are the bugs.

Posted in Golf club, Golf Course, Golf Course Superintendents, Greens | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Tanah hydrophobia

Posted by mynormas on April 13, 2016

“Tanah hydrophobia” ialah cadangan terjemahan yang saya dapat dari PRPM milik Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka bila saya tanya tentang ‘hydrophobic soil’ iaitu tanah yang takut atau anti air. Pernah kah anda menyiram pada halaman atau padang anda dengan air yang cukup banyak tetapi ia masih lagi kering? Orang tuduh anda tidak siram sedangkan anda siram? Mungkin tanah anda adalah tanah hydrophobia; ia tidak telap air (terjemahan water repellent juga dari PRPM DBP) maka natijah dari penyiraman anda ialah rumput tetap kering tapi lumut mula naik. Atau mungkin anda pernah alami penyiraman yang air tidak meresap ke dalam tanah tetapi mengalir di atas permukaan sahaja?

“Sifat hydrophobia tanah boleh melewatkan penyerapan air ke dalam tanah untuk jangkamasa dari beberapa saat hinggalah ke berminggu minggu. Tanah hydrophobia di katakan di sebabkan utamanya dari salutan molekul organik ke atas partikel tanah. Molekul organik ini mungkin datang dari tumbuhan, bahan reput, hidupan atau mikro-organisma bawah tanah atau jika selepas tanah terbakar. Sifat hydrophobia berubah ubah, menyebabkan ia sukar di ramal dan di perhati. Ia boleh di lihat selepas waktu kemarau yang panjang dan hilang bila musim hujan bermula” Perenggan di atas di petik dari sebuah artikel dari Jabatan Geografi, Swansea University.

Bagaimana boleh kita atasi sifat hydrophobia ini? Kita boleh guna cara mekanikal iaitu dengan menggunakan benda tajam untuk menebuk permukaan tanah itu seperti cara Pengudaraan Halaman atau Pengudaraan Padang.

Satu cara lagi ialah dengan menggunakan Agen Pembasah, yang tiada kena mengena dengan agen pembelasah seperti James Bond, Jason Bourne, Jack Bauer, Jack Bristow, Justin Bieber dan sebagainya.

Apa itu Agen Pembasah atau wetting agent? (Kita bincang tengan agen pembelasah dengan nama initial JB di lain tempat). Agen pembasah ialah bahan sebatian yang membantu air untuk melawan sifat tanah yang hydrophobia. Tapi awas! Bukan semua wetting agent adalah sama.Kalau silap sembur, rumput boleh mati, seperti kawan saya seorang ni

Untuk mengetahui lebih lanjut tentang wetting agent, sila lah ke seminar yang PERCUMA jika anda ahli GCSAM, RM50 jika anda adalah affiliate MGA (Malaysian Golf Association) dan hanya RM100 jika anda bukan ahli di Bukit Jalil Golf and CC pada 9.00 pagi 19 April. Tempat adalah terhad jadi hubungi GCSAM di nombor yang tertera di bawah.

Posted in Fields, Golf Course, Golf Course Superintendents, Landscape, Padang, Padang Bola, Padang Golf, stadium, Taman | Tagged: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

 
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