The objective measurement of bowls green performance has at best been dabbled in up until now. Bowls greenkeeping is littered with anecdotal evidence in relation to green performance. Whether it’s bad roads caused by setting the rinks off the head or bumps, hollows and ripples caused by lack of top-dressing; both myths, the management of bowls green playing performance could never be accused of being too scientific!
That’s about to change and clubs that are serious about improving the game and their own fortunes must join in this push to be more objective about the measurement of turf playing performance. Measurement of course is just the start as we then have to develop management programs to tackle the underlying agronomic conditions, ensuring that we can reap the rewards of objective measurement in the shape of Performance Bowling Greens.
But what do I mean by the measurement of turf playing performance? The implication here is that I am aware of turf quality parameters, particularly those which contribute to functional rather than visual quality – smoothness/trueness, green speed, firmness, density, texture, growth habit – and that I understand the factors that contribute to them. You can catch up on these measurable parameters by reviewing the series of articles here. Based on this awareness and an understanding of how to objectively measure performance we can formulate turf management programmes that move us nearer to a Performance Bowling Green.
The fact is that I’m revealing nothing new here. Greenkeepers have been aware of this for years, but in the absence of numbers, of objective measurements, we have found it hard to make a serious argument against the all powerful experts who tell us to continue with the desertification, over fertilising and over watering of our greens. That’s all going to change when we start routinely measuring these performance parameters using scientific methods and equipment.
But what is Objective measurement? It works like this:
- Establish current conditions by taking measurements of the things we can measure.
- Compare those measurements to an accepted set of standards.
- Use your understanding of agronomic factors to explain your measurements.
- Establish your objectives in terms of the standards you want to achieve, and by when.
- Formulate management and maintenance programmes to address agronomic concerns that can allow those objectives to be met
- At pre-determined intervals take further measurements to monitor progress towards your objectives.
In other words we measure the things we can measure, decide if they are good enough, and put together programmes to either maintain or improve the conditions that we have.
If we can’t measure it, we can’t put up a strong enough argument for our actions. This is why amateur, part time or even professional, full time greenkeepers who might have built up a thorough understanding of these factors through direct experience and observation over many years can still be shot down in flames by an otherwise clueless, but loud snake oil pedlar.
Bowls Central is here to help smart greenkeepers and clubs change all of that. Watch this space as I develop the argument for more objective measurement of bowls green performance over the coming weeks.