Steve Chappell shared these photos of snow and ice at Gleneagles, and I joked that it would be nice to play golf in such weather:
For example, see Jim Prusa's video of snow removal at SKY72 in Korea:
Then the questions came up, why remove the snow, was it worth it, and was any lasting damage done by that process? I asked Jim Prusa for the answers, and he was kind enough to explain why. Here's Jim:
Growing up in the golf course business in Northern Ohio I was exposed to all the mythological lore about how bad it was to allow any traffic on a golf course in winter. My father, a superintendent, ripped me when he caught me playing golf in the snow using orange golf balls in the early 1960s — he was worried that members would want to do the same. So, I was convinced at an early age that any traffic on a golf course in cold winter regions was going to damage a golf course. If you search old articles you’ll find many ‘horror stories” with scary photos of winter damage from winter traffic on golf courses. Then I experienced winters in Japan and Korea.
In both Japan and Korea I’ve managed scores of golf courses where clearing off the snow and playing golf was the norm — especially in Korea! What I have found is 100% contrary to the North America scary mythology about damaging the golf course. Frankly, I have never seen 1 spec of damage to golf course in Japan or Korea caused by winter play. None.
I’ve begun to think that the scare mongering of many superintendents about damaging a golf course simply from traffic in winter is an effort to not have to do much in winter!
No damage. None. Use common sense and avoid big, wide heavy snowblowers — it is why we are developing our own lightweight, ‘gang’ snow blower systems. On greens use covers. Clear the snow from covers and then you can pull the covers off during the day (like they do on baseball sports fields) and recover at night.
We run a business and that means we want customers and gain revenues that far offset the costs. PLAY GOLF!
He sent along these photos of cover removal.
And then happy golfers enjoying the course.
That's been my experience in Japan as well. I thought winter play would damage the turf. But any damage that happened was temporary, disappearing by early spring, and being more than offset by the revenue. One can lose a lot of money with frost delays when there are customers wanting to pay to play golf. For more about this, see:
- How to lose 120 million yen
- Fall potassium and winter traffic on a bentgrass green
- Playing golf in the snow: more greenkeeping adventures from Japan
Of course, this is not for everyone and everywhere. But neither are frost delays.