We’ve just had the most amazing Wimbledon fortnight; lovely weather for the most part and to top it off the first British Men’s Singles winner for over 70 years.
One issue that has cropped up over and over again is the fact that the courts at Wimbledon are actively protected from rain and moisture during play and that presumably then they aren’t watered during the event either. This is a very controlled and artificial situation for a short period of time and you can be assured that the sprinklers will be going hard at Wimbledon this week to aid recovery of the courts.
This has fed into the age old debate about watering bowling greens. Some greenkeepers have a really tough job convincing their members that they should water the green at all during dry spells. It’s understandable of course because the hot weather seems to improve the green surface, especially in terms of speed.
There are three key things to understand.
- The grasses we use in the UK are termed cool season grasses which means that they struggle to survive and perform well in prolonged periods of hot weather. Cool season grasses must close their leaf stomata in hot weather to preserve internal moisture and this has a negative effect on their ability to photosynthesize (produce food).
- Soil and plant moisture evaporates (through evapo-transpiration) at an average rate equivalent to 25mm of rain a week even in normal summers.
- Localised Dry Patch (LDP) is a devastating (at least to playing surface performance) disorder that is prevalent on many UK bowling greens due to decades of inappropriate maintenance and is exacerbated by low moisture. Once it takes hold it is almost impossible to correct in a single season. More on Localised Dry Patch here.