Monday, January 31, 2011

Snow and Ice Management

In an effort to prevent the damages that we experienced in 2009-2010, my Assistant Nate and I have been spending quite a bit of time on the course monitoring the greens specifically and taking preventative and corrective measures to minimize the possibility of damage like what we experienced last year.

Starting on November 19, with the help of two assistants from the Merit Club we were able to get non-permeable covers installed on greens 10 and 12. These covers began in Minnesota where numerous people install hockey rinks in their yards and the cover was used to prevent the death of the yard under 4" of ice. From there they grew into successful covers for greens throughout Minnesota and Wisconsin where large ice accumulation can occur.

The photo at the left shows the final stakes being put in place to hold the cover in place for the winter. This is a big process which requires a lot of manpower to get accomplished not only due to the size and weight of the covers but also the foam matting that goes underneath the cover. Before the cover goes down, we first have to unroll 9 foot wide rolls of packing foam across the entire green before the main cover goes down. This is to allow some cushioning and allow for gas exchange underneath the cover. On top of the foam layer, we ran a flat vent tube with holes every 3 feet that we can attach to a blower and circulate air under the cover.

Up until the end of December, the year had been going along almost exactly and we would prefer with cold temperatures and frozen ground underneath a blanket of snow. December 29, 30, and 31 brought us a new challenge however when the temperatures warmed enough to melt nearly all of the snow that had fallen to that point in the year. On December 31, Nate and I spent the day going from green to green to squeegee water off that had been left behind from the melting snow. The day was going well until we reached number 5 green and found snow cover with approximately 1" of water right at the surface of the green... we knew this would freeze by the next morning if we didn't remove it now.

The picture at left shows the water logged center section of the green which we were able to push off with the squeegee, the rest of the snow we had to push off with shovels in order to assure that further melting didn't cause ice problems.

After we cleared nearly all of #5 green of snow and water it was beginning to rain so we hurried to #4 which is suspected may be in similar condition with snow and water covering the surface, unfortunately I was right. Below are photos of # 4 green from December 31 and then from January 5 and you can see the benefit that clearing the snow and water had, on the right side of the green there is no ice accumulation, unfortunately as you can see there is a bit on the left side from the rain that fell later in the evening on December 31.

At this point on the last day of January, we appear to be well ahead of the position we were in a year ago. There is a small amount of ice on #4 and 5 greens which we have attempted to melt and remove and ultimately we resorted to puncturing the layer of ice so the Carbon Dioxide can escape. Now we hope that the snow that is on the way doesn't melt and refreeze anytime before March and we should have a much better start to the 2011 season.


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