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Turf Update

05 OCT 2022

I hear it over and over—fall is one of our favourite times of the year to play golf. Temperatures are cooler, we are treated to some sunny days, and the grass thrives in cooler weather.

As a superintendent, it’s wonderful to see all the hard work that the crew put in during the toughest parts of the season pay off—especially with pure rolling greens. In the fall, the stress of the job also starts to ease, and I can take more time to enjoy myself on the course.

There’s an unfortunate side of cooler nighttime temperatures: they cause leaves to fall and morning frost.

Although autumn colours can be spectacular when the leaves fall, it can be challenging to find a golf ball. Our leaf removal equipment is ready, but please be patient because our property is large and we have so many trees.

When overnight temperatures fall below 5 Celsius, frost is probable. In that case, the turf crew is delayed in preparing the course for the day. Thus, tee times will be pushed back for the first few groups of the day.

Even though frost delays can be very frustrating and upset your plans for the round and your day, you must stay off the grass until the golf shop communicates with you that the course is open. If you go on grass covered in frost, you risk killing the grass and leaving unsightly-looking footprints.

Here’s why you need to refrain from going on the grass covered in frost:

When frost forms, moisture within the leaf blade is frozen. If the frozen grass is driven on or walked upon, the frozen cells inside the plant shatter. This bruises the grass, causing it to blacken a few days later.

You may not think a bruise is so bad, but consider this: If I punch you in the arm, you’re most likely going to get a bruise. That bruise will likely dissipate in a few days. But if I keep punching you in the arm, that bruise will get worse and cause permanent damage to blood vessels and tissue. To get right down to it—bruising the grass will kill it.

That’s why, when there’s frost, no one can travel across or cut the grass.

Frost doesn’t lift until the surface of the grass warms up. The rate of this warming depends on a few factors:

- How cold it was the previous night
- The coldness of the soil
- The amount of direct sunlight on the affected areas
- Determining the severity and the length of a frost delay is challenging because the frost doesn’t form until the sun rises. You’ve likely heard the expression “it is always darkest before dawn.” Well, overnight temperatures are lowest just before dawn.

We do our best to keep the golf shop informed as the morning progresses so the staff members can relay the information to you.

At this time of year, if you have an early tee time, I suggest you check the weather the night before. If the temperature is around 5 C or lower, be prepared for a frost delay the next morning, and check with the golf shop or social media before heading out to the course.

Bill McAllister
Golf Course Superintendent