Closing & Delays
The Bald Head Island Club does everything in its power to provide our members with the highest quality golf experience and uninterrupted access to the course. From time to time, there may be disruptions in our regular operation due to adverse weather conditions. Below is a brief explanation of what goes into the decision to delay or close the golf facilities due to cold weather. Other possible closures may be due to severe rains and wind that may impact course playability and player safety. The staff will do everything it can to provide as much advance notice of possible closures or delays once the golf course superintendent has had the opportunity to assess the state of the golf facilities. Be sure to check back here for updates if the weather forecast is showing cooler temperatures or other adverse conditions.
The protocol we try to follow when determining whether or not to delay the opening of our facilities or close them entirely due to cold, incorporates both air and ground temperatures. Even if morning temps are 35-37 degrees when the golf course maintenance crew arrives, we are alert that a delay is possible because the low temperature usually occurs around sunrise, so sometimes a frost/freeze won’t occur until just before it gets light. There are times when frost begins forming after sunrise and even after greens are starting to be mowed for the day. While this may not occur on the higher cut turf, i.e. fairways/roughs, moisture inside the leaf has the potential to still freeze. Foot traffic can still cause injury when temperatures are in the mid 30’s due to growing points and the dwarfed leaves being closer to the soil surface. As a rule of thumb, we do not allow persons onto the golf course or practice areas until air temperatures reach 42-43 degrees. This range has been found to reduce the possibility of injury as it provides ample time for the plant and putting surface to warm up and become more pliable.
The major concern is not the freezing of water vapor on the outside part of the plant but rather what happens to the water inside the plant. If this water freezes, plant tissue damage is possible and for certain plants, this can cause them to die. Grass is hardy yes, but someone stepping on frozen blades of grass will cause the internal ice crystals to splinter and puncture the tissue. This can cause the leaf to eventually die.
Forecasting some weather situations are easy and can often be known days in advance. Frosts/freezes are more difficult to forecast due to their localized nature and require the professional judgment of the golf course superintendent or assistant superintendent in his absence and in most cases may only be made on the morning a cold weather issue occurs. They are very dependent on local effects such as topography and shade. Because we can have wide swings of temperature between the high and low, having a warm day does not preclude the chance of a cold night. Wind can play a role in the decision process.
At times, temperatures a few feet above the surface can be above freezing while the surface itself is experiencing a frost or freeze. Thermometers even at standard eye level can give misleading readings in these situations.
We do some things to prepare for these adverse weather conditions early in the fall season such as increasing mowing heights and monitoring moisture levels, keeping ample amounts available in the soil for the purpose insulating the putting surface during these cold weather events. All this helps us provide better playing conditions year round.