Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Winter Course Closures

The unusually cold weather recently has meant the golf course has had to remain closed for most of the past three weeks. Whilst this is obviously frustrating for the members who wish to play, it is worth reminding ourselves why play is restricted when frost arrives.

Surface frost is basically frozen dew that has crystallised 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 (6.5mm at this time of year) 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.

The damage caused to the leaf of the grass plants during a surface frost is bad enough but the most devastating situation occurs following a hard penetrated frost when the grass blades and the upper portion of the soil profile has thawed, but the ground beneath their level remains frozen. Foot traffic on greens will create a shearing action of the roots and crown tissues and widespread plant death will occur. This is comparable to cutting the plant tissue from the underlying root system with a sod cutter.

Hopefully the worst of the winter weather is now behind us and frost delays will soon be just a memory. The course has been protected during this vulnerable period and should show no adverse effects. The course staff can at last resume the various projects being worked on around the course and we can look forward to an exciting season ahead.