Over 37 years of greenkeeping and teaching greenkeepers I have come to notice that bowling green performance comes down to just 3 major characteristics. Sounds easy then, doesn't it? Well it actually gets even easier when you identify the one key problem that contributes more to poor bowling green performance than any other.
The relationship between sand and bowling green performance has become a thing of legend with the majority of clubs still throwing more sand on their greens every year, despite a worrying trend showing poorer and less predictable green performance due to problems like Localised Dry Patch and excessive thatch. It seems that for many clubs the dots aren't being connected between too much sand and poor performance. In this article I will explain the fundamentals that greenkeepers must keep in mind with regard to their bowling green soil.
Turf resiliency is one of the major factors determining bowling green performance and as such warrants close attention by the greenkeeper. Up to this point in our series on the evaluation of bowling green performance we have been dealing with attributes of grass, turf and soil that depend a lot on the greenkeeper's experience and "feel" for the turf. With resiliency we are getting closer to making more objective measurements.
In measuring the performance of the bowling green there are visual and functional factors to consider. Now that we've studied the visual clues we move on to the functional ones in earnest. Today we will look more closely at what at first might seem a strange quality of turf and that is Rigidity. This property of sportsturf is closely associated with the physiology of the individual grass plants we looked at in an earlier series and also with bowling green performance, as it influences green speed and trueness.
Now on part 7, this series has so far examined mostly visual clues to bowling green performance. Moving on now to the functional qualities of turf grass that can be used to make a more tangible appraisal of the performance of the green, we start to get to the point where we can make a quantitative appraisal of bowling green performance.
In the performance evaluation of the bowling green there are visual and functional measurements we can make to ascertain the likely performance of the green. Colour and Smoothness are the last two visual components we need to look at before moving on to the functional attributes we can measure. On the face of it, colour and smoothness seem like fairly innocuous elements to focus on; almost too obvious you might say. Let's see if they are more important or even different to what we previously thought.
Bowling green smoothness and trueness are measurable concepts and the data can be used to ensure that the ideal maintenance program is followed to make your green perform to previously unattained levels of excellence.
We often find bad runs on rinks or bad rinks on greens and we can guess or hypothesise as to the causes of these effects, but at many clubs the science stops there and they reach for the top-dressing. Given that we have seen the negative side of making greens too sandy, shouldn't we explore the possibility of a different answer to the apparent overnight appearance of bad areas on greens?