Turf Matters

The Site To Go To For All Your Turf Matters

  • Facebook Likes

  • The new Brushcutter

    Pengganti Brushcutter

    Increase productivity, cut labour. Try the AM61A

  • Trees Nursery

    Forest trees nursery

    Get your Trees from this nursery

Posts Tagged ‘Golf club’

Kelantan

Posted by mynormas on March 16, 2017

After 25 years and thats about half a lifetime ago, I am back in Kelantan. My  client is not the golf club but a homeowner neighbouring it. Two rare things indeed; having a homeowner as a client and being  in Kelantan. But at least now I can say I’ve worked in ALL Malaysian states, even Sabah  and Sarawak, Kelantan being the only one till today I haven’t worked in. 

No, don’t call me, I’m not doing consultancy for homes, this is an exception to the rule and you may not ask me why I made the exception. 

To my Kelantanese friends, nice place you got here. 

Bye. 

Advertisements

Posted in Fields, Golf club, Golf Course, Padang, Padang Bola, Padang Golf | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Pekerja Mahir

Posted by mynormas on September 7, 2015

In my experience and from what I’ve seen; very few Malaysian golf course staff are actually formally trained. I define ‘formally trained’ as a period of time be it 10 minutes or 10 days or more where a staff is taught on what he does, where he does it, why and the machinery by a qualified or suitably experienced staff.

More often than not, a staff that stands out will be selected to operate a small machine, fo example, a bunker rake or a mini tractor. He would then gradually be told to use a bigger machine over time. This actually is good practice, except for the fact that for some of them, this would be the first machine (and for some foreign workers, they have never operatted a motorbike before) they have ever used.

How does he learn how to operate the machines? An operator who has previously operated the machine. Nothing wrong with that. Except that the same thing happened with that operator too a few years ago (sometimes a few weeks ago).

So he does not know about safety protocols whether about the machine or the areas he will be mowing. He is ignorant about machinery maintenance and the finer points of mowing. Not for long of course, remember the staff member selected is usually relatively the brightest of them there and so he does not take long to adapt and to learn from his mistakes. Yet I still see ‘experienced’ operators that mow muddy fairways, making a bad situation worse. Ok maybe that is not bad training per se but also shows a lack of common sense and/or a bad attitude.

20, 15 years ago I used to hire staff from the agriculture institute of Malaysia or IPM where they graduated with a certificate in agriculture. This used to be a three-year course where they learnt about plants agronomy, nutrition and also agriculture machinery and engines. The best part is that they are able to operate a tractor and change a tractor’s implements. It may not be that much relevant on a golf course but by the time they are on my golf course, the bunker rake is not the first machine they operate. Get it?

Unfortunately, by now their sylllabus has been changed to a two year course with the final semester being ‘practical training’ off-campus. The syllabus is now more modern with enterpreneurial and computer skils added. Good for them, but of not much use for me.

In a recent talk I gave to a group of people interested in setting up a training facility, I outlined the importance of skilled workers in the field mantenance industry (note I did not say ‘golf course maintenance industry’) where the best reason is that there is a better possibility of improving the golf course quality with skilled workers. The least important reason, I suppose, is reducing the number of foreign workers in Malaysia.

However, there are hindrances that I foresee. Big hindrances. This project of training skilled workers will not work if the employers; the golf courses, the fields, the contractors are not supportive of it. There will be plenty of reasons or excuses; those can be overcome. High turnover, high mobility, cannot work hard (read: cannot work long hours), unreliable etc, can be overcome. What will be more difficult is overcoming the notion that field maintenance is just ‘cutting grass’.

Its hard enough convincing club owners to improve the pay scale for golf course superintendents and/or hire better quality people to justify the better pay scale. It would be harder, I imagine, to convince them to hire skilled field workers AND to introduce a career path for the said workers.

But I have seen it work and the people that want to do this may have some ideas of their own to do this; retraining existing workers, for example. I wish them luck. At least some one is doing something different other than hiring more foreign workers at a problem. “Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result is insanity” Remember? That Einstein guy’s quote?

 

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

This machine is mine.

Posted by mynormas on August 19, 2015

In a recent previous post and even in a magazine article, I wrote that in the month of August, turf machinery be washed extra clean, polished even, and a national flag tied to the machine; not merely as a show of patriotism but more so that the machine operators take a little bit more care for their machine instead of just hosing it down at the end of the day, every day.

Why August? Because coincidentally, the National Day of Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia fall in this month and many of my readers are from this region (WordPress allows me to trace the country of origin of readers).

Yesterday I happened to visit one of those golf courses that did this. The superintendent told me how he picked a Saturday afternoon when most of the machinery were back at the workshop and called for a staff meeting. After the usual briefing, he told them about the programme and gave them time to wash their machines.

One operator, after vigorously washing his machine, found that he could not tie the flagpole to the machines’ roll-over bar because the roof was wider than the bar and there wasn’t any other place to tie the flag. Guess what he did? He dismantled the roof and tied the flag to the roll-over protective structure. He was willing to not have a roof for a month (the superintendent will take the flags back after Malaysia Day on 16th Sept) just for the flag. And he’s not even a Malaysian.

He took off the roof so he can tie the flag.

He took off the roof so he can tie the flag.

The superintendent told the bunker-rake machine operator that he need not worry about his machine because it was too small and too old to clean up. The staff member protested, not only did he wash his machine extra clean, he took some paint and painted all the metal parts of the machine – dozer blade included, black. The superintendent gave him a flag which he proudly displayed on his machine. And he’s not even a Malaysian.

He painted the metal parts black so that he can be allowed to put the flag.

He painted the metal parts black so that he can be allowed to put the flag.

The point is not about the flag but the effect that the programme had on the workers: they owned the machines. Suddenly it is ‘my’ machine and I want my machine to be the cleanest it can be because I want to put on a flag. Follow up this with a training on how to look after the machine and I’m sure the machine will last a little bit longer with less maintenance stress as compared to a machine that did not ‘belong’ to anybody. I mean, “who washes a rented car”?

I got that quote from a book I read about 25 years ago titled ‘In Search of Excellence’ written by – if I am not mistaken – Tom Peters. An example he gave was the ground crew chief of a squadron of jet fighters that had the best maintained planes compared to other squadrons. The crew chief’s secret was, instead of a crew looking after the right wing, another one looked after the left wing, one looking after the cockpit and so on, he gave them all each a plane to look after. One crew, one plane. “How did that work in creating excellence?” he was asked. His answer was that because each one of them now ‘owns’ a plane, they had a greater sense of pride and responsibility to that particular plane of theirs. “After all” he said “who washes a rented car?” I might be paraphrasing because hey, it has been about 25 years ago but I believe the gist is there.

I also believe the credit should also go to the crew chief for his innovativeness and in this context, the superintendent for his role in firing up the workers. I mean, if he had sat in his office and gave the flags to the supervisor who would give the flags to the mechanic who then gave the flags to the operators; the effect would not be the same. So what worked? Maybe it was his speech, maybe it was the look in his eyes, maybe it was because he helped wash a few machines, maybe he held a big stick, maybe he promised them a reward or maybe it was already a culture in that place, whatever it was, it got the result that he wanted. It was actually more than I imagined, I can tell you that.

Its still not too late for Malaysians, at least, because the flags can remain on the machines till 16th September which is Malaysia Day. The cheapest flags I found was at Mr. DIY (biar kami rugi asal anda puas hati) at RM2.50 each. Or we can try and do something else. Or we can try finding one excuse or another to not do anything and complain about everything. It is a choice. Up to us.

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

Apa itu ‘Par’

Posted by mynormas on July 22, 2015

Bila kita baca/dengar tentang pertandingan golf kita biasa dengar perkataan ‘par’ contohnya “Tiger Woods memenangi pertandingan tersebut setelah membuat 63 pukulan, 9 di bawah par” dan memandangkan ia menyebut tentang Tiger Woods memenangi pertandingan, jelas sekali ia adalah berita yang sangat-sangat lama dahulu.

Tapi, apakah maksud par dalam context permainan golf? Dan jika kita bukan minat pun tentang golf, apa maksud ‘par’ dalam pepatah Inggeris ‘par for the course’ atau ‘not up to par’?

Contoh pukulan di lubang par 4.

Contoh pukulan di lubang par 4.

Dalam golf, ‘par’ adalah bilangan pukulan yang telah di tetapkan oleh arkitek (designer) padang untuk seorang pemain golf scratch (handicap 0) untuk memukul bola dari tee hinggalah ia masuk lubang di green pada suatu Lubang. Contohnya jika lubang itu adalah par 4 maka empat pukulan SEHARUSNYA di perlukan untuk memasukkan bola ke dalam lubang. Untuk makluman, lubang par 4 panjangnya adalah diantara 230 hingga 430 meter.

Terdapat tiga jenis par yang di gunakan secara rasmi di sebuah padang golf; par 3 (90 – 230m), par 4 dan par 5 (430 – 550m). Sebuah padang golf 18 lubang BIASANYA akan ada empat lubang par 3, empat lubang par 5 dan 10 lubang par 4 tetapi gabungan lain juga di benarkan.

Jumlah par kesemua lubang adalah jumlah par untuk padang golf tersebut. Contohnya, Kelab Golf Kota Permai mempunyai par 72, Kelab Golf Mines par 71 dan sebagainya. Padang golf yang digunakan untuk pertandingan akan mempunyai par di antara 69 hingga 73.

Setelah habis bermain golf, seorang pemain akan membandingkan jumlah pukulan nya dengan par padang tersebut. Maka jika par padang tersebut ialah 72 dan dia telah membuat jumlah pukulan sebanyak 70; maka kita kata dia telah membuat 70 pukulan, dua di bawah par. Jika 75: 75 pukulan, tiga di atas par dan sebagainya. Untuk pemain golf profesional seperti Tiger Woods dan lain-lain ataupun untuk sebahagian pertandingan yang tertentu, kiraan mutlak di gunakan, ini di panggil sebagai gross score.

Jika pemain golf itu adalah amatur, maka jumlah pukulannya tadi akan di tolak dengan handicap nya. Contohnya jika seorang pemain yang mempunyai handicap 10 menghabiskan permainan dengan membuat sejumlah 80 pukulan, maka 80 akan di tolak dengan 10 maka jumlah pukulan nya ialah 70; dua di bawah par. Ini di panggil sebagai net score.

Ada pertandingan yang berlangsung lebih dari satu hari maka jumlah par untuk kesemua hari itu akan menentukan pemenang. Setiap pertandingan akan mempunyai peraturan yang berbeza. Contoh yang saya gunakan di sini hanyalah untuk pertandingan yang dipanggil sebagai stroke play.

Tentang pepatah Inggeris ‘par for the course’ pula, ia membawa maksud bahawa sesuatu tabiat, situasi atau kejadian memang boleh di jangka. Ia tidak baik tetapi adalah normal. Contoh ayat:

  1. So he went off and left you? Well that’s about par for the course. He’s no friend. 
  2. I worked for days on this proposal, but it was rejected. That’s par for the course in this company. 
  3. The school budget is going to be cut again this year, but then that’s par for the course.

‘Up to par’ pula ialah bila mereka memberitahu orang bahawa taraf kerja yang di buat berbanding tahap yang tetapkan/biasa. Contoh ayat:

  1. The manager said that the report is not up to par and gave it back to be redone.
  2. Good. Your work is up to par.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Par_(score)

http://www.quora.com/How-is-par-on-a-golf-course-determined

http://golf.about.com/cs/golfterms/g/bldef_par.htm

http://idioms.thefreedictionary.com/par+for+the+course

http://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/british/be-par-for-the-course

http://idioms.thefreedictionary.com/par

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

Padang dan belang

Posted by mynormas on November 18, 2014

Stripes, whether on a football field or a golf course fairway, are nice to look at. Some Superintendents/Groundsmen are quite creative and can create nice patterns. However, the danger of having one direction of stripe for years and the same mower every time we mow, is creating ruts where the tyres are.

File picture; not directly related to story.

Nice stripes from a simple tractor. But at least this is a light machine.
Gambar hiasan.

For those not in the know; to get those nice stripes that you see on TV or at your local field/fairways/rough, the mower operator has to mow in the same place and at the same direction every time. The grass then bends in that particular direction and when the mower comes back on the ‘return’ trip, the grass will bend in the opposite direction. The effect of light reflecting on the bent grass are what creates the striping effect. Not really the cutting action per se, more likely the rollers behind the ‘knife’.

Its easier to do with some grass compared to others. For the grasses that are harder to create the stripes, the mower operators has to be disciplined and skilled enough to be able to repeat that task every time he/she mows. Some courses/fields can have a few directions to spread the wear and tear but in Malaysia, most clubs will have one one direction of mowing; from tee to green of fairway or on the football field, from one side of the field to the other i.e. left to right.

If you don’t spread out the wear and tear and keep on mowing in the same place/direction every time over many years and even during wet soil conditions – especially if you don’t aerate your fairways – what will happen is that the machine’s tyres will always be in the same location every time you mow and this will soon create ruts.

Maybe not my best artwork; but what I'm trying to show is a profile of ruts created by a machine.

Maybe not my best artwork; but what I’m trying to show is a profile of ruts created by a machine’s tyres.

I recently advised one club to change the direction of their fairway stripes because it has been that since the beginning. I suggested a ‘diamond’ cut from two directions to create a checker board effect from a straight up and down striping as it is now. At least then there can be two set of places where the machine’s tyres can be placed and since that particular club mows its fairways twice a week, that means on one day it will mow from left to right and on the other; right to left.

When the owner came by a few weeks ago, he decided he preferred the old stripes and instructed the Superintendent to go back to the old stripes. The Superintendent were not able to give a proper explanation why we changed mowing direction and had no choice but to go back to the previous direction.

Sigh… I guess I should let it go, but the rainy season has just begun and I’m afraid the ruts will just get worse.

Belang pada padang – samada pada fairway padang golf atau di padang bola – adalah cantik. Tetapi ia datang dengan kos tertentu. 

Pedulikan botol air mineral tu. Apa yang saya nak tunjuk ialah arah rumput baring akan menentukan warna belang rumput.

Pedulikan botol air mineral tu. Apa yang saya nak tunjuk ialah arah rumput baring akan menentukan warna belang rumput.

Untuk mendapatkan belang tersebut, si operator yang membawa mesin mestilah memotong pada arah dan tapak yang sama setiap kali dia memotong. Ini kerana belang itu datang dari rumput yang ‘baring’. Bila mesin itu potong ke arah hadapan kita, rumput itu akan baring ke pergi dari; dan bila mesin itu potong di arah berlawanan iaitu ke arah kita, rumput akan baring ke arah kita. Cahaya yang melantun atas permukaan rumput itu akan membalikkan jumlah cahaya yang berbeza dan memberi kesan belang yang kita nampak. 

Oleh kerana mesin itu terpaksa potong pada arah dan lokasi yang sama setiap kali ia potong selama bertahun-tahun; tayar mesin itu akan berada di lokasi yang sama dan akan membentuk lekuk terutamanya bila kita potong pada waktu tanah lembik; i.e musim hujan. 

Untuk mengurangkan efek tersebut, saya cadangkan padang mempunyai dua atau tiga ‘pattern’ belang supaya mampatan dari tayar boleh di sebarkan ke beberapa lokasi. Ini mungkin membantu. 

Example of striping on football field

Contoh belang atau stripe di padang bola.

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

Kota Permai or KLGCC?

Posted by mynormas on November 17, 2014

Well, Kota Permai have done it again; they have made their members and staff proud that they are again voted the best (or second best) golf club in Malaysia. I have no doubt whatsoever that they deserve it and I believe wholeheartedly that it is no mean feat; no easy task and I would like to congratulate them on their achievements.

Or was it the other way round? Did KLGCC win best golf course in Malaysia? Does it matter? As I see it, even if Horizon Hill (its the third nominee) were to be voted the best golf course in Malaysia this time around, KLGCC and Kota Permai will always be the top two golf courses in Malaysia; never mind the arguments about who decides or how many votes or what grounds, anyone who has played or visited either of the two clubs would not quibble about the details. They both are really good golf courses.

Oh. By the way, this post was written on Saturday and scheduled to appear on Monday, so I don’t really know who won yet. But the event I’m referring to is the Asian Pacific Golf Summit in Marina Bay Sands, Singapore November 14 and 15. Why do I write Saturday and post Monday? According to statistics, the time most people visit this website is early morning on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday so I don’t bother to post anything on other days.

So, my personal opinion is that the magazine that gives out this award should list out the top 5 clubs in Malaysia because really, the top 2 is already a foregone conclusion. Just tell us who are number 3, 4 and 5; to me, these clubs would be the real winners.

No, I am not irked or envious of these two clubs. I currently am free-lancing and don’t work at any particular golf club anymore and I am proud to say that I used to work at one of the two champion clubs and the other club’s superintendent was formerly a colleague of mine. He has learnt from me just as I have learnt from him. Whatever award they won makes me feel good.

Neither do I think that the success of the two clubs are due to bottomless or big budgets. I know of clubs that have  comparatively big budgets but wouldn’t come close to the standards of the two champions. No, their succes is the sum total of skill/professionalism of the Course Superintendent and staff of the Maintenance Department, the teamwork of the management/staff from other departments, the cooperation of the members/committees and the support of the bosses/owners.

I’ve seen clubs who, as soon as they were given money; they bought a fleet of new machines (common) or put in lights for night golf at the last three holes (true story) or put bigger pillars at the clubhouse (rumour) or bigger VIP rooms (its the VIP who released the money, presumably); even when the greens are crying out for renovation. Or the fairways badly needed drainage. Nope. Money helps, but it ain’t what makes these two clubs champions.

What this win reminds me of is a conversation I had with my kids when they were in primary school. I told them that their number or position in class are not important, because “if you are in a class with a lot of students that don’t really care about their performance, being number 1 simply means that you are the best among mediocre students, which may mean you are actually no better than the student who are number 20 in a class of high performers”. Well, words to that effect anyway; they were 7 or 8 years old then, plus I’m improvising to match the situation now; I wouldn’t be using those exact words but you get what I’m saying.

What I am trying to say is that I sincerely believe Kota Permai and KLGCC should be aiming for higher and competing at a bigger stage by now. Ya, ya, they call you the best club in Malaysia; accept the title, that fact actually is beyond doubt even if you don’t get that award anymore! Unless conditions deteriorates for the next few years, Kota Permai and KLGCC are already ranked as the best clubs in Malaysia, so move on. Take the award but pour energy into being recognised at a world level, is my point.

I know, I know, Kota Permai and KLGCC has won other international awards for example being voted the top 10 golf course in Asia Pacific or the top 100 clubs in 205 countries respectively (among many others I’m sure) but I believe the celebrations, pride, honour and PR for these achievements should exceed the celebrations for being the best course (or 2nd best) in Malaysia.

Except for once in a while, in a tournament or two, here or there, this boy or that girl will win and make Malaysian golf proud for a while, then they’re gone; we don’t have a golf personality recognised world-wide! Wouldn’t it be nice to have one, or two Malaysian golf clubs famous all over the region, if not the world?

A few years ago I remember seeing someone in Saujana wearing this t-shirt that say ‘Top 500 Courses in the World’ (or was it 100? or 1000?) and because there are an estimated 35,000 golf courses in the world that would make him prouder than being number 1 in Malaysia (estimated number; 200),

I would also like to call on other clubs in Malaysia to step up their maintenance and be in the same league as these two. Especially clubs like Tropicana, Glenmarie, Penang Golf Club, Sutera Harbour, etc that are not far behind in terms of quality and even expectation.

Okay, I’ve heard the excuses too; “these award are based on votes and I don’t have the votes” or “the awards have no meaning” (this usually comes from the losers) but really? Or try this “The awards thing is a PR game lah”. So you mean your maintenance is the same like Kota Permai and KLGCC and you lost only because you can’t do the PR? Hmm…

Whatever, but you’re already maintaining the course, so why not take a few more steps and make the maintenace a little bit better? Perhaps step up the PR game too if thats what you really believe.

Raise the whole standard of Malaysian golf courses lah. Make Kota Permai and KLGCC work harder to retain the title, which they should already be blase about anyway already (“Another best-golf-course-in-Malaysia title? Yawn. Fine, put them in the cabinet with the others”).

Perhaps Kota Permai and KLGCC need not worry about the numbers game (No 23 in the world or Top 3,000 or Best of UN countries or whatever) anymore; it could also be a leadership or brand of some kind. For example, the Audubon certification – an environmental thing for golf courses all over the world.

Then perhaps, just perhaps, it adds impetus or momentum to the other smaller clubs to also up their game. Maybe it’s a long shot, but whats to lose? At the very least, we will get two world-class golf clubs and a few other clubs that can actually vie for the Malaysian best golf club title.

Posted in Golf club, Golf Course | Tagged: , , | 5 Comments »

The Big Small Things

Posted by mynormas on September 11, 2014

Contrary to popular belief, usually, the greens are the easiest problems for me to help with. Usually, the current superintendents know what to do and just need some encouragement or pointers. Even if they don’t know what to do, they’ll be eager to listen and follow. Plus if it came to the stage that my help is needed, that usually means the club are willing to spend money and sacrifice time to make things better. Maybe occasionally some major replanting are needed but these aren’t often.

Sometimes it’s not about making things better too, but just to redraw the lines, clarify some stuff; usually about green speed. You know some clubs just chase after that extra six inches of speed by cutting low and rolling hard.

So give it three months or at worst a year, the greens would improve and then what?

Greens improvemnt

Thats when I get to do what to me is the harder part; to change what most clubs and staff have already been used to or did not put as priority.

Honestly, I really did not think that the small things are the difficult things. The cleanliness by the buggy path, the paint at the halfway huts. The landscaping at the starter huts. The sand bins. The painting of the tee markers. The flag pins. The kerb edges etc.

Kerbs are visible. A little effort in maintaining it goes a long way.

Kerbs are visible. A little effort in maintaining it goes a long way.

In the beginning of the contract the boss and even the owner would want to know what my recommendations are or at least have a meal with me. When the greens are better I am usually left with just the superintendent. Not that its bad, but without having the boss’ ear, it is a little harder to make changes.

Some days, I think that not doing the improvement too fast may be a better idea. Make the work last longer… you know what I mean?

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

 
%d bloggers like this: