When grass has a layer of frost on it, any sort of traffic can cause turf damage. The damage is caused when the sharp edges of the frost is forced through the cell wall of the plant, causing death of that cell. If only leaf cells are damaged, the result is unsightly, but not death of the plant. If enough of the cells in the crown of the plant are killed, the entire plant is dead. This is why we have frost delays.
Here at Sycamore Ridge, you will find that a frost delay will impact the front nine more than the back nine. This is because of the elevation changes and wind exposure. It may be 40 degrees on the thermometer of you car, but down in the low lying areas of the golf course, the colder air will pool and form frost. Frost is less prevalent on a breezy morning, because the wind helps mix the warmer air with the colder air. Frost can become most severe just after sunrise. This is because the sun heats up the upper atmosphere first, forcing the colder air down to ground level. Once the frost has formed, we keep all traffic off of the frosty grass, including maintenance, until it warms up enough to not cause damage.
As we start to get frost on a daily basis, we will change the starting hole to number ten. With fewer low areas, more wind exposure, and less trees to cause shade, the back nine always defrosts faster.
Can you just run the sprinklers to melt the frost? NO! you cannot. If the temperature is low enough to form the frost, if you add water from the sprinklers, you will get ice.