Whether to remove ice from covered greens in northern climates is never an easy decision for golf course managers. Besides being a labor intesive activity, one must first decide whether the removal of ice is warranted. In some cases, ice removal can actually physically damage the underlying turf. In the case of NSCC, further examination of the putting green turf samples removed on 2/17 revealed mostly favorable results; however, one example (9 Blue) indicated that the potential for ice damage did exist. The time that NSCC's turf can remain healthy below ice coverage had been met. Last week, golf course maintenance staff members took a detailed sample of all greens in order to ascertain the extent and depth of ice on all greens. In most cases ice coverage was minimal. A handful of greens, 8White, 9White, 9Blue, 6Blue, and 8Blue did did display extensive ice coverage. We zeroed in on these greens as our targets for ice removal. In addition, the practice green has historically proven to be susceptible to ice damage.
In order to effectively remove the ice, the weather must first cooperate. Both warmer temperatures and sunshine are necessary for ice removal. Both were predicted to be abundant this week. The process for removing ice is relatively straight forward. First, the snow must be removed from the greens. In this case, the work was completed by grounds staff using snow blowers in order to minimize turf damage. In other cases trucks and skid-steer loaders have been used, but due to the varied depths of ice and levels of coverage this was not deemed to be an option. Once the majority of snow is removed, the remaing crumbs and chunks of snow are removed by hand with shovels. Once the green is cleared of snow, a light topdressing of sand is applied. This sand is the same sand that we use throughout the growing season for topdressing with one exception. The sand used for ice removal has been dyed black. The black sand helps to attract and retain the sun's heat, increasing the rate by which the ice melts. Following the melting of the ice, the excess water and ice that remain will be removed by hand. By taking these steps, the NSCC golf course staff aims to provide the best possible conditions once the course opens. Following are pictures of the process:
Snow Removal From 9 Blue
Black Topdressing Sand
Ice Covered With Black Sand
Black Sand Application