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Greenkeeper's nous and bowls green performance
The key to a performance bowls green is hidden in the soil's organic matter.

Greenkeeper’s nous and bowls green performance

All discoveries start from healthy curiosity (or maybe unhealthy obsessions!) and I know that to produce a high performance bowling surface, I must provide my players with a Firm, True, Smooth and to some extent Fast surface. However, in the face of education and an industry that convinces me that my job is complex am I guilty of ignoring the link between my greenkeeper’s nous and bowls green performance?

Greenkeeper’s nous or practical intelligence gained over 30+ years tells me that the firmness of greens is related to the moisture content of those greens.  I can further the hypothesis by suggesting that the moisture content of greens is related to the Organic Matter content of the soil; more organic matter equals more moisture. So, to apply proper science to bowling green performance, we need to gather evidence of those ‘parameters’ (measurable factors).

Our Hypothesis.

From my observations and conversations over 3 decades I have a feeling I know what’s going on here, so I want to put forward a Hypothesis for Testing and here it is:

I believe that a High Performance Bowling Green must be Firm, Smooth and True. For now we can discount green speed as I believe that with achievement of the above, green speed is essentially down to greenkeeping and prevailing turf/weather conditions. So, the full Hypothesis is thus:

  • Bowling Green Surface Trueness and Smoothness are correlated with green surface firmness (firmer greens are smoother and truer).
  • Bowling Green surface firmness is correlated with soil moisture content (wetter greens are less firm).
  • Soil Moisture Content is correlated with Soil Organic Matter Content
  • Therefore the Performance of Bowling Green Surfaces is correlated with Soil Organic Matter Content.

What do you think?

I’ll expand on this next time when we’ll be looking at the tests and tools available for Objective Measurement of bowling green performance.

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