Frost and its effects

As we welcome December and look to the New Year, we have already experienced some really cold temperatures and the hard frosts they bring with them.

With courses enforcing frost rules – from course closures to winter greens and trolley bans – it feels right to end the year with this topic.

A turfgrass plant is made up of 90% water, which then freezes in cold temperatures, and makes the plant susceptible to damage.

We usually see frost in two forms – the first and more familiar one being a ‘leaf frost,’ this is easily seen as a white coverage across the playing surface.

A ‘ground frost’ is not as visible and can cause the most damage.

The frost may have thawed within the leaf and it may look like the greens have thawed but the crown of the plant can still be frozen. Applying pressure can break the leaf from its root system, break it from its store of winter nutrients, thus potentially killing the plant.

Both of these frost forms can have long-term detrimental effect on the playing surface – from thinning out the sward affecting ball roll to creating further plant stress, which can then lead to a disease threat.

Though the frost rules aren’t the most popular, they do a lot of good for the course and ultimately lead to a better playing condition come the summer months.