Each year golf courses in our area deal with possible ravages of winter including snow mold, turf desiccation and ice damage (suffocation). We, at Westhaven Golf Club, have taken a pro active approach concerning the various potential causes of turf damage over the last several years.
The plant species on the greens (poa annua and bent grasses) usually is unable to survive under ice cover for extended periods of time (between 30-60 days). Lately this has required removal of snow and ice one to three times per winter season. The winter of 2011-2012 ice was removed on three separate occasions, and the winter of 2012-2013 snow and ice removal occurred twice.
The process of snow and ice removal is extremely labor intensive, requiring timely removal of the snow cover from the ice, then an application of a material to attract the rays of the sun to melt the ice. Once the ice is softened and begins to melt it can be safely removed from the turfgrass.
The equipment used in this process can range from: a pick-up with a snow plow, a tractor with front-end loader, a super rake, walk behind snow blowers, and good old-fashioned shovels and squeegees. The methods and equipment used varies based on the thickness of the ice, depth of snow (on the greens as well as getting to the greens), and cooperation from mother nature. The overall process can take between 3-5 days to clear all 18 greens as you are limited to the peak sunlight and warmth hours of the day.
While this process can be time consuming and brings along risks of its own (namely damaging the turf with the equipment) we saw extremely positive results in the Spring of the 2012 season. It is our hope we can replicate those results this coming season.
Below are a few pictures of the work that occurred this past winter.