What Is So Important About Staying Off Frost?
By Elliott L. Dowling, agronomist, Mid-Atlantic RegionJanuary 22, 2014
|It is wise to adhere to frost
delays because damage caused now can linger until active turf growth resumes in
Mid-Atlantic region recently experienced a weather event we have not seen in
the last 20 years. What has been dubbed a polar
vortex wreaked havoc with the lives of many. It is too early to tell what effect
this weather anomaly will have on turf but we are reasonably confident turf
health was not affected. However, there is still plenty of winter weather left
so do not let your guard down. The possibility for cold weather accompanied by
snow and ice is still high for the next month or so.
said that, the snow has melted and, for a few, the shining sun means it is a
good day to play golf. As we slowly transition to spring we want to discuss a
few reasons for course closure that are not uncommon during winter and early
first reason for course closure is one we are all too familiar with - frost delays.
Frost is a normal occurrence this time of year and, on occasion, even in April.
Frost is difficult to explain to golfers. It is hard for many to understand
that simply walking on frozen grass plants can cause damage. Simply put water
inside and affixed to turf leaves freezes. Typically, freezing in and of itself
is not a concern, but add mechanical stress such as foot or cart traffic and turf
damage can occur. As the plants are crushed beneath tire pressure or foot
traffic ice crystals puncture cells in the plant. Ruptured plant cells mean
plant functions are compromised and turf damage is then easily observed. Perfect
outlines of footprints or cart tires can be visible within an hour or two after
initial damage. Depending on the time of year and how fast the plants are growing
damage may linger for a month or longer. Damaged plants will eventually recover
but why take the risk? Please listen to your golf course superintendent and adhere
to frost delay guidelines.
complaints often heard include, “Why can’t we take carts today?” or “Why are carts
confined to the cart path when yesterday we could go anywhere?” Superintendents
are not out for spite when they restrict cart traffic in the winter. Even if grass
plants are not be completely dormant in your part of the region during the
winter months, growth is still slow at best. For this reason, turf has little
to no ability to recover from winter traffic injury.
is important to evaluate opening or closing the golf course each day during the
winter. Even if there is a delay due to frost, the short-term inconvenience is
to help protect the turf from long-term damage. Weather conditions change
frequently during winter all of which can have an impact on your facility. Remember,
damage caused now will likely still be noticeable come spring when weather is
often ideal for golf.
a reminder, our Mid-Atlantic Green Section Regional Conferences are scheduled
for Tuesday, March 4 at the DuPont Country Club in Wilmington, Del., and
Tuesday, March 11 at the Oakmont Country Club in Pittsburgh, Pa.
Source: Elliott L. Dowling (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Information on the USGA’s Course Consulting Service
Contact the Green Section Staff