Understanding Frost Delays
When frost is present, golf course superintendents delay play until the frost has melted. This is done to prevent damage that affects the quality of the playing surface which could result in a very expensive 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 mowing height 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 will not see immediate damage. The proof generally comes 48-72 hours later as the plant leaves turn brown and die. The result is thinning of the putting green 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 approximately 60. Multiply that by 18 holes with an average of 200 rounds per day and the result is 216,000 footprints on a green in a day or 6,480,000 in a month.
As golf enthusiasts, superintendents do not like to delay play, but we are most concerned about turf damage, cost of repairs and quality of conditions for the golfer. Frost also creates a hardship on our facilities staff as all course preparations are put on hold until thawing occurs.
Call the Frost Line at (479) 855-5123 or check “Today’s Play” on the Tee Times page to see if tee times have been pushed back due to frost. This area will also give you information on any cart restrictions or closures.