Frost Delays Give Turf Management Teams Time to Catch Up

Fall is now in full swing in many parts of the U.S. We have “fallen back” with the time change, leaves are falling, and many mornings for golf course management start off with frost delays. Frost delays for those of you that manage turf in the transition zone and points further north, can be frustrating because they delay the opportunity to get out and perform the daily scheduled activities.

By looking at the extended forecast (3-5 day forecast), turf managers can accurately predict which mornings will have frost delays. These frost delays are lengthy and the team finds itself with little to do—I mean, you can only clean up the maintenance facility so many times. But on the bright side, whether the delay is 30 minutes or 2 hours, these delays can provide an excellent opportunity for creative team-building.

Here are a few of the ways that I took advantage of frost delays to provide an opportunity to engage in team-building activities with the golf course management team during my previous career as a superintendent. My crew was a mix of Hispanic and American members which created a language barrier. To break through this barrier, my staff created an English/Spanish board and during a frost delay, the crew would review the board and add on to the board. The board consisted of words and phrases commonly used on the golf course. For example, “Rake the bunkers” – “Rastrillar los búnkers.” At first there was some resistance from the crew, but as the crew was sent out and forced to communicate, the language barrier began to break down and efficiency improved. The segregation of the crew began to disappear and team chemistry grew.

We also took advantage of frost delays to learn more about the equipment. It was a good time to review basic maintenance and the basic do’s and do not’s of equipment. We were even able to do a demonstration of some of the more involved maintenance practices such as reel grinding and setting heights of cut.

In addition, frost delays provide an excellent time to review all safety issues. If there were any incidents throughout the season where someone got hurt, frost delays offer a great time to review the incident, understand why the worker got hurt and review procedures to ensure it does not happen again. Review proper operating procedures of all your equipment. We tend to get complacent when we frequently operate equipment, which can lead to injury.Tour your maintenance facility and see if your crew can identify any safety hazards. If there are hazards identified, develop a plan to eliminate the hazard. Let your crew take ownership of the project.

For those who apply chemicals, frost delays will give you a chance to make sure all of your application logs are up to date, update MSDS sheets and educate your crew on the chemicals used at your facility or place of business. For example, you can pick out your favorite herbicide; review the label with your crew, PPE’s needed when you apply, why you use it and what to do if there is a spill or if you come in contact with the chemical. Keep it simple, but make sure you get the point across on how important it is to know basic information about the chemicals used. Don’t be afraid to quiz them at the end of the review to stress the importance of knowing the basics about chemicals.

Don’t be afraid to think outside of the box when it comes to frost delays. Have a roundtable discussion with your turf management crew. Ask them what they like to do and don’t like to do. Ask them if they think there are better ways to do certain jobs more efficiently. If your crew has been doing an excellent job and the frost delay looks like it could be lengthy, let the crew have a little fun. Set up something like a Washers or Cornhole tournament and have the winning team getting the rest of the day off with pay, even a hot breakfast can go a long way.

When your next frost delay occurs take advantage of the delay to learn, build team chemistry within your turf management team and have fun.

Did you enjoy this blog? Be sure to check out Jay’s other posts including turf professionals and their relationship with water conservation and the value of university field days.