Playing Golf in the Snow: more greenkeeping adventures from Japan

Once upon a time, I was the greenkeeper (golf course superintendent) at a golf course in Chiba prefecture, just east of Tokyo. The first time it snowed, I was shocked to receive a call from the course owner asking when the course would be opening. Rather than waiting for the snow to melt, we were expected to prepare the course for play.

I was reminded of my adventures in trying to prepare the course for opening by this tweet from Albert Bancroft after a substantial snowfall in Tokyo:

When I was working in Japan, we tried what seemed like everything, from water (not recommended!) to melt the snow, to charcoal …

to having caddies walk through the snow to possibly speed its melting on fairways ..

before finally settling on the only consistently effective solution: physical removal.

Why is all this done, you might ask? Well, as best as I can tell, it is related to two things, business and customer service.

First of all, golf courses take in revenue from green fees, so the course must open in order to collect that revenue. Second, in Japan I notice a strong ethic of customer service, and the idea is that if the customer has made a tee time, then the business should provide the service, namely an open golf course, for the customer to play.

Now as to why golfers actually play in this type of weather, that’s a question I’m not able to answer!

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