From the Greens - Craig Walker

The difference between Bowls and Golf greens.

At first glance, it would seem that the maintenance requirements of golf and lawn bowling greens would be almost identical. However, although there are similarities, the differences are significant and turf managers who have been involved with both agree that bowling greens require a higher level of maintenance to produce an acceptable playing surface.

A bowling green must be fast, level and true if bowlers are to play with self-confidence and finesse. Compared to a golf green, it must be very firm and thatch-free and if the bowls are to run true, the green should be level to within 3 mm over its entire surface.

Since a good pace is so important, a great deal of the maintenance effort is directed toward creating a firm surface. This means that thatch production must be kept to a minimum and the thatch which does develop must be removed on a regular basis.

Close, regular mowing reduces thatch production. Typically, bowling greens are mowed four or five times per week at a mowing height of 2.2mm as opposed to 3 to 4 mm for golf greens.

In spite of one's best effort to control it, some thatch will inevitably develop and must be dealt with, and frequent grooming will help this. Regular topdressing, as is practiced on golf greens to provide a firm surface, is not acceptable on bowling greens for two major reasons:

  1. repetitive topdressing will in time raise the level of the green relative to the plinth, (the board that runs around the inside of the ditch surrounding the green), and

  2. sand on the surface of the green damages bowls and makes for unpleasant playing conditions.

Also, since a dry surface runs faster than a wet one, irrigation must be more disciplined than is the case on golf greens. Of course, this increases the chance of localized dry areas, particularly in the case of sand greens which are built without any organic matter or other amendments. Therefore, applying the right amount of water is a real balancing act that can be made somewhat easier if wetting agents are used.

Fortunately too, bowlers seem to be somewhat more tolerant than golfers and will accept playing surfaces which are not particularly green if only the pace is maintained and the draws are wide and true. Of course, even with almost perfect playing conditions, lawn bowlers, like golfers, have been known to criticize the green - more so when the result of their game was less than satisfactory.

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