You wake up on a cold Saturday morning and decide you want to beat the “winter blues” by getting in a round of golf at your favorite golf spot! You have some things to get done in the afternoon but you have just enough time to hit the links, play a round, and get home to tackle your “honey-do” list. You arrive at the club, get bags loaded, and head in to the Golf Shop – then you hear it – the dreaded phrase “We are on a frost delay.”
Why do we delay golfers when frost is present? I am from the warmer regions of the South and I am not particularly fond of cold weather, but I promise my reasons for delaying play isn’t because I want to hang out in the warm office a little longer. Frost is simply frozen dew…and it forms on the surface of the plant most readily as dew points are reached at the time frame around dawn. If you were to analyze frost under a microscope, it’s reminiscent of thousands of icicles, with sharp points and edges. Pressure from mowing equipment and foot traffic will actually drive the sharp crystals into the growing point of the turf plant and cause the plant to “leak” moisture and essential nutrients. This leads to plant damage and/or plant death. The damage can last a few days, or up to months until the plant can either recover from the trauma or until new plants can fill in the damaged area. While it seems difficult to believe that just “walking on the grass” could cause such problems, frost damage can quickly ruin months of the hard work that goes into keeping the greens in top condition. So next time play is delayed from frost, just know your patience is greatly appreciated by the Agronomy team, and more so the Turf! Hunker down with another cup of coffee, and enjoy a few more enlightening stories that are so often told in the Golf Shop.