Changing Seasons On the Course
by Kevin Bennington, Golf Administrator
We have traded our t-shirts for a light jacket and the leaves are beginning to change color. Summer has officially gone and pretty soon we will jump straight into the holiday season. As our regular golfers know, fall is without a doubt one of the best times to enjoy our Virginia Beach Golf Courses. Maintenance is busy preparing for leaf clean-up. With a little help from Mother Nature, the leaves will drop quickly and the impact to your golf game will be minimal.
One other important item that will happen in the coming weeks is the dreaded frost delay. No one likes to have their tee time delayed, but the article below is a great explanation of the frost delay (provided by the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America) and its importance to maintaining the best possible course conditions.
Also, please note that winter rates will go into effect November 1.
Can a Footprint Be Killer?
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 most courses 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.
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, nature never meant for these plants to be maintained at 3/16 or even 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.
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.
The damage isn't just unsightly -- putting quality will also be reduced until repairs are made. Those repairs are expensive and, in some cases, the green may have to be kept out of play for days or weeks until the new turfgrass is established. 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.
Update on Golf Course Operations RFP
The Golf Division held interviews on October 18 for the groups interested in partnering with the City for the operation and maintenance of our golf facilities. The proposals are still under review. We will keep you posted as a decision is made.