What’s the deal with Frost Delays?

Here’s the “Why” with Frost Delays from our perspective

Okay, okay, we admit that frost delays are a total pain. Unfortunately, though, they are a very real part of playing golf in the winter. Every Portland golf course deals with them, but some are more conservative than others. Instead of going on and on about our reasons, we thought the USGA could give some credibility to our “why”.

Here’s a few FAQ’s straight from the USGA that we think help explain why it’s important to be conservative with our approach when frost is present.

  1. Why are tee times delayed when there is frost? Because vehicle and foot traffic can inflict lasting damage on frozen grass plants, especially on greens.
  2. What factors influence frost formation? A variety of factors influence frost formation, not just the temperature. Air temperature, cloud cover, slope of the ground, and wind are all considerable factors.
  3. Can frost form when the air temperature is above freezing? Yes, pockets of cold air and freezing soil temperatures can allow frost to form on turf, even when the air temperature is above freezing.
  4. How does frost affect grass? Ice crystals that from inside and outside the grass plant make it brittle and vulnerable to damage. Traffic can rupture frozen plant cells and injure the turf.
  5. I don’t see an frost from the clubhouse. Why are we still waiting? Just a few frosted areas can keep the entire course closed if they are unavoidable early in the round. The maintenance staff also needs time to catch up after a frost delay.
  6. Is there anything golf courses can do to reduce frost delays? Reducing shade, especially on holes early in the round, decreases frost delays by allowing sunlight to melt the frost earlier.

USGA Frost Delay Video