It has been a crazy start to the year for weather and with that we have had some frost days late into the season. When frost is present we will delay play until the frost has melted. We do this to prevent damage that affects the quality of the playing surface and could potentially be very expensive to repair.
I have received many questions on what frost is so I wanted to clarify a few things. Basically frost is frozen dew that has crystallized on the grass, making it hard and brittle. A grass blade is mostly water, therefore it also freezes. Because of the short cutting heights we mow at, the putting greens are most affected by frost. Walking on frost-covered greens causes the plant to break and cell walls to rupture, therefore losing its ability to function normally. When the membrane is broken, it can’t be put back together. This is what happened to the greens a few years ago with ice damage in the winter. So in other words if you walk on the frost it will kill the grass.
Golfers who ignore frost delays will not see immediate damage. The damage usually comes a few days later as the plant leaves turn brown and die. The result is a thinning of the putting surface and a weakening of the plant. The greens in turn become more susceptible to disease and weeds. While it may not seem to be much of an issue if a foursome begins play early on frost covered greens, it is once you consider the number of footprints an average golfer puts on a single green is 60 and multiply that by four, we are talking about significant turf loss!! I appreciate your support and cooperation during these mornings and hope that we don’t have too many more to deal with.
Golf Course Superintendent