Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Snow Management

One of the biggest challenges we deal with in the winter is managing the snowfall received. I am not referring to snow removal from the paring lots at the clubhouse, but rather management of snow on the vital play areas on the golf course.

We routinely remove snow from our four most shaded greens after each snow event. This is done to help prevent any ice build up from occurring due to the freezing and thawing that takes place where extended snow cover occurs. The timing of the removal revolves around predicted forecast, so that we are not clearing greens prior to the onset of extremely low temperatures. When cold weather is predicted we will leave the snow on the green to insulate it until the extreme temperatures pass and then remove the snow from the greens. This is a cycle that takes place throughout the entire winter. Due to the constant snow removal we have to add supplemental moisture to these greens in the form of hand watering. It is not uncommon to see the greens being watered when the surrounding areas are still deep in snow cover.
A Cleared Green

Wildlife also has an effect on snow found on the golf course. With herds of both Elk and Deer roaming the property they cause a distinct set of issues. The constant foot traffic causes compaction of the snow, which can lead to the formation of ice below potentially causing a smothering from extended ice cover. Additionally one of the other unique problems that occur comes from where the animals bed down. Their body heat melts the snow leaving large areas of exposed turf. It seems like the animals target our most problematic areas on the course, which forces us to either hand water or physically add snow back to these areas.
Snow Melt From Animals Bedding Down

Adding Snow Cover Back To Exposed Areas

I have often said that managing a golf course in Colorado in the winter is far more difficult than in the summer.