Saturday, January 7, 2017

Frost can be Deadly....and a Blessing

So I posted this picture on Twitter yesterday.  I was again touting the ability of our new loader built by Wacker Neuson as it was astonishing how big of a log it could carry.  Honestly this is one of the best, most useful machines Tacoma has ever purchased.  But, one of my good friends on Twitter noticed that we were driving it on the frost and was giving me a hard time since we turf managers often stress that traffic on frosty turf is bad.  So "what gives"? Why is it okay for us to drive this huge machine on frosty turf, while at the same time close the golf course to all traffic because of the potential damage to turf?  The answer is simple. Dead turf is sometimes acceptable, and let me assure you we killed some turf this week.  I can explain.
Do you remember the poplar trees that lived between 12 and 13?  Do you remember that they were scheduled for removal this winter?  Well timing is everything and this weeks weather provided the perfect timing for removing these trees. This past week we had temperatures as low as 10 degrees at night and high temperatures barely above freezing. The ground was frozen hard as a rock.  Keep in mind that Tacoma has no cart paths.  This is great 99% of the time but it's not so great when you need to perform a project that requires huge machinery.
This picture shows the massive size of these trees as they were taken down this past week. A lot of manpower and machinery was required.
We were able to take these huge machines out into the middle of the golf course because the ground was frozen solid.  As a consequence we only suffered frost damage.  I say "only frost damage" because had the ground not been frozen, we would have completely destroyed the area and disrupted the surface to a depth of a foot or more.  
The key to success on these large projects is to minimize the area of disturbance because sometimes the cost of restoring the area around the project can be more than the cost of the project itself.  In this case, the frost damage can easily be restored with some aeration and overseeding in February or March when the soil temperatures are warm enough.  In the meantime, it will be obvious where we drove the heavy equipment over the frosty turf because it is severely damaged.  This is exactly why we close the golf course when frost is present.  Damaged turf in one small area of the fairway or rough is a small price to pay for completing a project of this size.  Had the golf course been open during this week of frosty weather, there would be damage on every green, every fairway, and everywhere in between.  I'm sure no one would have liked to have seen that.

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