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FROST Signals a Change in Golf Course Management Activities That Can Affect One’s Game and Course Conditions


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PRESENTED BY THE GOLF COURSE SUPERINTENDENTS ASSOCIATION OF NORTHERN CALIFORNIA Understanding the hows


he Golf Course Superin- tendents Association


of Northern California hopes you are preparing for another great year on the links. Winter has arrived


in Northern California. With colder overnight and morning temperatures, that means golfers will occasion- ally face frost delays that push back starting times later into the morning. We understand that this causes an inconvenience to golf- ers and gets their day off to a late start. Delays are instituted to prevent damage that affects the quality of the playing surface and could potentially be very expensive to repair. Frost is basically frozen


dew that has crystallized on the grass, making it hard and brittle. A grass blade is actually 90 percent water, therefore it also freezes. Because of the short mow- ing height (sometimes lower than 1/8 inch) and fragile nature of the turf, putting greens are most affected by frost. Walking on frost- covered greens causes the plant to break and cell walls to rupture, thereby losing its ability to function normally. When the membrane is broken, much like an egg, it cannot be put back together. Golfers who ignore frost


delays may not see imme- diate damage. The proof generally comes 48-72 hours later as the plant leaves turn brown and die. The result


64 / NCGA.ORG / WINTER 2013


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 appear to be much of an issue if a foursome begins play early on frost- covered greens, consider the number of footprints that may occur on any given hole by one person is approxi- mately 60. Multiply that by 18 holes with an average of 200 rounds per day and the result is 216,000 foot- prints on greens in a day or 6,480,000 in a month. As golf enthusiasts,


superintendents do not like to delay play, but they are more concerned about turf damage and the quality of conditions for the golfer. Frost also creates a hardship on a golf facility’s staff as all course preparations are put to a halt until thaw- ing occurs. Golf carts and maintenance equipment can cause considerable damage, therefore personnel cannot maneuver around the course to mow, change cup posi- tions, set up tees and collect range balls. While techniques can be


employed to reduce pos- sible frost damage including raising the cutting height of mowers to create har- dier surfaces and possibly starting off the side where frost melts more quickly, the best technique is simple understanding, another cup of coffee and a little bit of patience.


and whys of a frost delay will give you a greater ap- preciation for the golf course and the challenges that a superintendent and his crew encounter when faced with this issue. It would also be wise to call the golf shop before heading out to play to see if tee times have been


pushed back due to frost. For more information


on the GCSA of Northern California or informa- tion regarding golf course maintenance, please visit our website at www.gcsanc.com or follow us on Twitter @GCSANC.


The Golf Course


Frost damage to turf caused by cart traffic.


Frost damage to a putting surface caused by human traffic.


Superintendents Associa- tion of Northern California is dedicated to serving its members, fostering com- munication, advancing the profession, improving the environment and enriching the quality of golf. For more information, visit gcsanc. com. It is an affiliated chapter of the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America.


PHOTO: JOHN MASCARO, TURF-TEC INTERNATIONAL


PHOTO: JOHN MASCARO, TURF-TEC INTERNATIONAL


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