Ask Thad: When to worry about snow and ice on turf

By |  April 11, 2022 0 Comments
(Graphic: Golfdom Staff)

(Graphic: Golfdom Staff)

When does concern set in for you with snow/ice cover on your turf? Also please provide your choice sauce for Buffalo Wings?

Dan Francis, @francisdmarion, superintendent, Wildwood GC, Middletown, Ohio

In January 1999, I started at Seneca Falls Country Club. After my initial assessment, I determined that there was approximately 4 inches of ice on the No. 7 green, a low-lying green that water naturally drains toward. I rallied my new assistant and mechanic and we headed out with sledgehammers, ice chippers and shovels. To make a long story short, two-thirds of the green died anyway, and we had lots of mechanical damage that was mostly cosmetic. 

About six years ago at Terry Hills, it was 60 degrees in January and we received 2 inches of rain. The next morning was zero degrees and stayed that way until March. We had the dreaded white puddles of death on several greens. Most came back within a few weeks, the 20th green needed aerification, seed and topdressing while the poor old 15th green needed about 400 square feet of sod. In 34 seasons, these are the only two instances of ice damage that I have seen. 

In my opinion, removing ice at the wrong time exposes the turf to even harsher elements. The most important thing about cold weather greens going into the winter is that they naturally harden off and prepare themselves for the change of seasons. Extreme swings in winter weather are unavoidable at times and communication and an action plan go a long way in explaining what’s happening to a membership. 

Buffalos don’t have wings, “boneless wings” are chicken nuggets and specialty sauces are for chain restaurants. In Western New York, they’re wings. The sauce is Frank’s Red Hot. If it’s too spicy, cut it with butter. Celery and blue cheese are the only acceptable sides. If you order carrots and ranch, everyone will know you just got to town.

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About the Author: Thad Thompson

Thad Thompson is the superintendent at Terry Hills GC in Batavia, N.Y.

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