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Dodge's Dirt

September 2012

With a heavy frost on the golf course this morning, I think we can safely say that the summer is now over and we are now moving into fall and with it come frost delays. Nobody dislikes frost delays more than we do-not only do they cause delays for the customers but they keep our crew from getting out onto the golf course and performing our preparations for golfers. I ask for your understanding with these delays and have attached an article that describes frost and its effects on golf courses.

 

Frost Delays

How can a footprint be a killer?

When it's a footprint made on a putting surface that's covered with frost. It's hard to believe that simply walking across a golf green covered with frost can cause so much damage, but the proof will be there in a few days as the turfgrass dies and leaves a trail of brown footprints. That's why most courses will delay starting times until the frost has melted. And it's also why golfers who appreciate a quality putting surface will be patient during frost delays.

Why does frost cause problems?

Greens are fragile. The putting surface, or green, is an extremely fragile environment that must be managed carefully and professionally. Remember that every green is a collection of millions of individual grass plants, each of which is a delicate living thing. Obviously, Mother Nature never meant for these plants to be maintained at 3/16 or even 1/8 of an inch for prolonged periods. This stress makes greens constantly vulnerable to attacks from insects, disease, heat, drought, cold -- and frost.

Frost is essentially frozen dew. It can form when the temperature (or wind chill) is near or below the freezing point. The ice crystals that form on the outside of the plant can also harden or even freeze the cell structure of the plant. When frosted, the normally resilient plant cells become brittle and are easily crushed. When the cell membranes are damaged, the plant loses its ability to function normally. It's not much different than cracking an egg. Once the shell is broken, you can't put it back together.

The proof is in the prints

Although you won't see any immediate damage if you walk on frosted turf, the proof will emerge within 48 to 72 hours as the leaves die and turn brown. And, since just one foursome can leave several hundred footprints on each green, the damage can be very extensive.

Thanks for understanding

The damage isn't just unsightly -- putting quality will also be reduced until repairs are made. Those repairs are expensive and, in some cases, the green may have to be kept out of play for days or weeks until the new turfgrass is established. A short delay while the frost melts can preserve the quality of the greens, prevent needless repairs and may even save you a few strokes the next time you play.

 Vince 85
Key points:
  • Simply walking across a golf green covered with frost can cause damage.
  • One foursome can leave several hundred footprints on each green, the damage can be very extensive.
  • Greens are fragile, so they vulnerable to attacks from insects, disease, heat, drought, cold -- and frost.
  • When frosted, the normally resilient plant cells become brittle and are easily crushed.
  • A short delay while the frost melts can preserve the quality of the greens and prevent needless repairs.

On another note, I have attached three photos of common occurrences that we see on the golf course throughout the season:

Vince 86

Untouched ballmark-15 Green

Vince 87

Divot adjacent to cup-16 Green

Vince 88

Spike damage from a “foot dragger”-15 Green

All of these instances are avoidable if the people responsible for these events would show a little more respect for not just the golf course but for the other players as well. The divot next to the cup in particular is disturbing in that it is a deliberate action that shows a total lack of maturity. We do our best to try to keep the golf course as playable as can be under high volume traffic-these kinds of actions do not help our efforts. All we ask is that players do their best to show respect for both the golf course and other players.

Finally, you will note that we are in the process of aerifying golf course tees and fairways. While we try to keep out of the players’ way for most of the process, there will be times when you may have to play around our work. Please understand that this process is an important one and with the end of the season coming very soon, we have to take advantage of every weather opportunity we have to complete this work before winter.

Thank you for your patronage and we hope to see you out there.

Vincent Dodge CGCS

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