How can a footprint be a killer?
When it’s a footprint made on a putting surface that’s covered with frost. It’s hard to believe that simply walking across a golf green covered with frost can cause so much damage, but the proof will be there in a few days as the turfgrass dies and leaves a trail of brown footprints. That’s why we will delay starting times until the frost has melted. And it’s also why golfers who appreciate a quality putting surface will be patient during frost delays.
Why does frost cause problems?
Greens are fragile. The putting surface, or green, is an extremely fragile environment that must be managed carefully and professionally. Remember that every green is a collection of millions of individual grass plants, each of which is a delicate living thing. Obviously, Mother Nature never meant for these plants to be maintained at below an 1/8 of an inch for prolonged periods. This stress makes greens constantly vulnerable to attacks from insects, disease, heat, drought, cold — and frost. Frost is essentially frozen dew. It can form when the temperature (or wind chill) is near or below the freezing point. The ice crystals that form on the outside of the plant can also harden or even freeze the cell structure of the plant. When frosted, the normally resilient plant cells become brittle and are easily crushed. When the cell membranes are damaged, the plant loses its ability to function normally. It’s not much different than cracking an egg. Once the shell is broken, you can’t put it back together.
The proof is in the prints
Although you won’t see any immediate damage if you walk on frosted turf, the proof will emerge within 48 to 72 hours as the leaves die and turn brown. And, since just one foursome can leave several hundred footprints on each green, the damage can be very extensive.
Thanks for understanding
The damage isn’t just unsightly — putting quality will also be reduced until repairs are made. A short delay while the frost melts can preserve the quality of the greens, prevent needless repairs and may even save you a few strokes the next time you play.