The effect of frost on the structure of grass

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Thankfully the temperatures aren’t low enough for frost just yet, but as we move deeper into the autumn season, frost and the damage it can do to a course, is never far from my mind.

Here I’ll tell you what you need to know about frost and the effect it has on our course. A new frost policy relating specifically to Sweetwoods Park; has also been written which will be shared to all members via email later this week.

Frost is nothing more than frozen dew that crystallises on grass.  Being composed of 90% water, a blade of grass freezes very easily, thereby making the normally pliable grass rigid and inflexible.  Once frozen, the simple act of walking on a frosted Course will cause blades of grass to break and rupture cell walls.  Once the membrane is ruptured, re-growth is significantly hindered.  Golf Course grass, mowed shortest on fairways and greens and therefore less robust than long grass areas, is naturally most susceptible to breakage.

If play continues on a frosted green, immediate damage is not evident.  However 2 or 3 days following membrane rupture, the grass will turn brown and potentially die; at best it will suffer severe damage.  The destruction of grass, particularly on putting surfaces, creates conditions for growth of weeds and disease, thus further compounding the original issue and necessitating further actions to return greens to their best condition.

Allan Tait

Course Manager