Saturday, April 21, 2012

Eight Weeks of Snow Removal

There has been one mission for the past eight and half weeks - snow removal.   It has been a long, slow frustrating process.  The snow removal process has involved the use of a skid steer, tractor, Snow Cat, and Toro Polar Trac snow blower.

Snow #9 Greens Surrounds April 2, 2012
There has been three goals with our snow removal program.  The first goal was to gain access to all of our greens by clearing paths to them.  This allows us to clear snow on the greens, gain access to our Green Jacket tarps system, as well as vent under the tarping system.

This year clearing paths was accomplished using a skid steer as well as our John Deere tractor.  These two pieces of equipment required snow chains on all four wheels. The skid steer is the primary vehicle for snow removal.  Because the cart paths are hard packed from Nordic skiing and venting operations, a bucket rather than a snow blower was used.  Our 55 HP John Deere tractor is used to clear paths on steep hills as the skid steer has problems with traction in these areas.  The process is slow and frustrating.  This is because chains break, machinery gets stuck regularly, and the large volume of snow impedes progress.  At times we have been digging through over four feet of snow and therefore, only able to clear 400 to 500 yards of path in one day.

Challenges with Traction #18 Cart Path April 2, 2012

Clearing Path to 13 Green March 26, 2012

Challenges with Tire Chains - March 26, 2012

Clearing the snow off the eight greens not protected by our Green Jacket Tarp system, was the second goal of our snow removal program.  The concern with these greens was the ice layer that formed in December and January.  We have been monitoring these greens throughout the winter and in late February some of our sample plugs caused us some concern.  Therefore we started clearing greens the first week in March.  Clearing snow on our greens has been accomplished through the use of Honda snow blowers and a Toro Polar Trac Snow Blower.  Some greens have been cleared four times since the process started in early March.  The following video link to Youtube highlights snow removal on Cliffhanger (#6) and Mooseback (#16) (sorry cannot embed clip due to music copyrights).

Initial Clearing of #9 Green with Toro Polar Trac - March 22, 2012 
Large amounts and continued snowfall in March necessitated the use of our Snow Cat on the fourth green (see video below).   First the Snow Cat was used to remove all but 6” to 12” of snow.  Then the Polar Trac was then used complete the clearing operations on four.

Clearing snow with Snow Cat - #4 Green - March 22, 2012
 The final goal of our snow removal program was to clear snow off slopes where large volumes of runoff form on green surfaces.  Greens such as number two and three are two examples of this scenario.  For these large areas our Snow Cat has been used to remove snow.  This is because it can move large volumes of snow over long distances in a short period of time.

Clearing snow around #3 Green - April 5, 2012
Yesterday was the final day of major snow clearing operations (I hope).  There are still tees and small areas of cart paths to clear but the majority of work is done.  There is still plenty of snow on the golf course, but Mother Nature will have to assist us in these areas.
I would like to thank Oakcreek Golf and Turf and Ryan Schultz for loaning us a Polar Trac snow blower.   They recognized our struggles with snow this year and stepped into help – Thanks.   

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