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April 12, 2013

Here is an update from Ken Siems of the Pestovo Golf and Yacht Club in Moscow.  The first picture is from April 8 and the second one is from April 12, 2013.  He has removed snow cover from some of the key areas on the golf course, but is expecting snow cover to last in May.  So far, the grass has been pretty healthy under the snow, with little snow mold  (he treated for snow mold before the first snow). 

This is one of the latest snow covers that I am familiar with.  It will be very interesting to see how the course emerges from the winter.  Ken will continue to keep us informed as the snow melts.



April 1, 2013

Here are a couple more pictures from Ken Siems, Supt. of Pestovo Golf and Yacht Club in Moscow, Russia.  I posted on this in March.  Ken has unusually heavy snow cover on his golf course for this late in the season.  The grass appears to be healthy under the snow cover (see the second picture below taken this week), but the snow cover is hanging on well into April.  The forecast for the next week is for temperatures above freezing in the day time and below freezing at night.  His question relates to whether he should remove the remaining snow.

My experience tells me that he should not try to remove the snow.  We generally tend to do more damage by removing snow than by leaving it on.  However, this is very late in the season.  This is about as long as I have ever seen that much snow hang on into April.  (He did apply snow mold controls before snow cover)

I have recommended that he do some research on this.  I would like to see him remove snow in some areas and leave it on in other areas and then send us some pictures and observations on the results.

I'll keep you posted.  Any comments on this would also be appreciated.




March 25, 2013

Here is an interesting picture from golf course superintendent Ken Siems from the Pestovo Golf and Yacht Club near Moscow, Russia.  Notice that the picture is from March 21, 2013.  I thought some of you that feel like we have had a tough winter would enjoy seeing what a really heavy, late snow looks like.  Ken moved to Moscow last year from Beijing, China where his old golf course had been under 6 ft of flood water.

There is a green under the snow in the foreground and the fairway is in the background.  Ken was wondering about snow removal. 

I have had a lot of experience with snow and/or ice removal from golf courses over the years.  We have done studies on it here at ISU and have had a chance to observe the effects of snow removal on many golf courses here in the region.  My observations have been that we generally find that we do more harm than good when it comes to removal and that it is generally best to just leave snow and ice in place and have it melt naturally. 

This is an unusually heavy snow fall, however and it would be unlikely to melt off until well into April.  Ken is going to leave some areas and remove part of the snow from others.  He will keep us posted on the recovery this spring.



More winter survival information from Chicago.

April 23, 2010

Here is another post from the Chicago area on winter damage. This one is from Ben McGargill at Wynstone Golf Club. He posted last week on the effect of covers under ice on Poa survival.


At Wynstone, our greens are primarily Poa annua. Some are 50/50 bent/poa while several are 90% - 95% poa. The club had purchased tarps for all 18 greens in the fall of 2009, and we spent the first two days of December tarping all of the greens on the golf course.

Since December 1st was my first day at Wynstone, I was only able to see the greens as we tarped prior to snowfall on the 3rd. When deciding which greens to clear of snow and ice, I relied heavily on recollection of ice damage in the past.

Most of the greens were covered in ice following a 1.5 inches of rain followed by a hard freeze at the end of December, but in January we received two days in the forties. Several days before the warm temperatures were predicted, we began snow blowing our problem greens in hopes that the ice would melt, and it seems to have been successful. Our only problem was on #17 Green, which we did not clear, and all of the death occurred where the tarp failed to cover the edge of the green (see last week’s post).

The picture below is of a low spot on the front of #11 green, which has been one of the most problematic areas. This is an area we monitored and removed ice in January. As you can imagine, we were happy to see green turf.

Ben McGargill
Wynstone Golf Club
Barrington, Ill.



Winter Damage in Chicago by Brian Thomson

April 13, 2010

Here is a post from Brian Thomson, Superintendent of Biltmore CC, north of Chicago concerning damage from this past winter.

Biltmore CC

Barrington, Ill. (North of Chicago)

Winter of 2009-10

Winter Kill / Ice Damage

Notes by Brian Thomson, Superintendent.

During the winter of 2009-10 we had the longest period of ice cover I have seen in 15 years. In the month of December we received 2.12” of rain, most of which fell Dec 25-26 (1.45”). Soils temps at a 2” depth were frozen starting Dec 19th and did not thaw until March 12th – 85 days later. During that time, ice covered all of our low greens at a depth of 2-4”.

On Feb 18th (~60 days after soils were frozen) we began removing the snow from 9 greens and breaking the ice up on 5 of those greens using a Toro aerifier with solid star tines. The tines did go into the surface of the green and completely broke the ice. The ice was not removed, but left in place to help protect the turf, should the weather turn cold.

A noticeable rotten egg smell came from the greens as they were being aerified. After aerification we did have some sunny, warm days which melted some of the ice. Ice did reform and more snow fell, which lasted until the first week of March.

The greens that had the most ice are push up style greens, in the lowest portion of the course, on peat.

Greens that we removed snow and broke Ice:

Green #1 – Most damage, in low lying areas, all Poa effected (see picture of bent plug). This is a problem green which we have experienced winter kill before in low lying areas, never to this extent. Poor internal drainage and little, to no surface drainage. Green has several “pockets” with no surface drainage. Built on peat (20-30’ thick). Drains were installed to the low areas of the green a few years ago. The grass above these lines survived, however grass just a few feet from the drain lines died.

Green #4- Some damage – surface water flow areas affected. Ice was not as thick as #1, #8, #10, and #13. This green is built on clay (not peat). Have had some areas of damage in the past.

Green #8- very small areas of damage. A newer green (rebuilt ~20 years ago). Does have pretty good internal drainage, however surface drainage is poor. Did have considerable amount of ice. Green is on peat.

Green #10 and #13- Older greens on peat. Both have poor internal drainage and poor surface drainage. Damage was limited to “pockets” on green and areas are recovering quickly. Typically see damage each year on these greens. Did install drainage to the low areas a few years ago.

Removed snow only from the following – all are built on clay, push up greens. Very little ice after snow was removed (less than 1”).

Green #4 and #5- small areas of damage (low areas). Poor internal drainage and fair surface drainage.

Green #9 and #17 – no damage. Good internal drainage and good surface drainage. Greens look very good at this time.



I think good surface and internal drainage is key. I do think some damage is caused by aerification, however in our case I think we could have had more damage if we had not broken the ice and opened the greens up to release the gas accumulation occurring under the ice – no proof of this. All of the damage was in low areas and surface drainage ways, with only Poa affected. Removing snow showed no positive or negative results compared to greens where no snow was removed.

There is a post on youtube of the ice breaking process. It is posted at: