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Bowls In Focus : February 2010
34 Bowls In Focus VGA Turf Trial Updates As previously reported in this column, we at the VGA have embarked on two turf trials this season. This is now our third and fourth trial in as many years with Brunswick Bowls Club trialing Southern Cross Couch and the success of Yamba Tift Dwarf at Alphin- gton; this is a chance to offer more varieties of couch surfaces to our greenkeepers. We chose to use two different varieties of seeded couch, both bred for cooler climates in the USA. In early December we began work on the turf trial at Fawkner Bowling Club in Melbourne's north. The green chosen for the trial was a disused seven-rink bent grass surface that was more weeds than anything else. The green had a good irrigation system and an excellent soil profile. Once organised with the club's greenkeeper Phil Grant and the club it was all go for the trial to begin. With the Rosamond club trialing a seeded couch called Sovereign , we decided to trial another variety called Veracruz . This variety is used in the cooler states of America on golf courses and is meant to be able to handle the colder climates and retain its colour during winter. It has never before be trialed on a bowl- ing green or been cut at the height a green requires, so the only way to find out is through trials. The existing green was cut down and poisoned by VGA committeemen Dyson Appleyard, James Hood and club greenkeeper Phil Grant. Due to the surface being very flakey it was decided not to sod cut as it would have fallen apart and we also wanted to keep costs at an absolute low. We adopted the thought of a club with very little finances and seeing what we could produce from the worst possible situation. Once the weeds were killed we again cut the green then triple scarified, rotary-hoed and fertilised (thanks Globe Australia) the trial area (approx 4 rinks), while the rest of the green was scarified to break it up. Thanks to Warren Maynard on that day for his assistance. The first rink was then screeded for a basic level and seeded. This was in the second week of December, ideally we were looking at the first week in December but due to our own work commitments we couldn't make that happen. The germination period for this grass is approx 8-10 days. First signs of germina- tion were on the eighth day. From then on it really started to move. On 6 January (last month) it received its first cut at 4mm, and has since received its second cut and a double roll on January 13. The rink is about 85-90% covered after just six weeks since beings seeded. The root depth is at 80mm, which is fantastic after such a short period of growing. While at present there is some Poa and weed visible in the plot, we are planning to spray them out in the coming weeks. Last December (2009) the turf trial at Rosamond Bowling Club in Melbourne's west began. Rosamond had a disused three-rink green that was full of weeds and was perfect for a trial as it has a good irrigation system and an excellent soil profile. After speaking to the club's greenkeeper Dave Zitter, along with president Pat Clark, we all decided that the project was a good idea. With a bit of research and a lot of phone calls the grass of choice for this trial was going to be a seeded couch called Sovereign. Sovereign Couch is used a lot in the cooler states of America on golf courses and is meant to be the finest of all the seeded varieties. It has never before be trialed on a bowling green or been cut at the height a green requires, so the results should be interesting. The green was cut down and poisoned, then VGA committeemen Dave Gudgeon sod cut the surface. We now had the sods removed by bobcat and spread some fertilizer out, supplied by Oasis. The green was then rotary-hoed and finally laser leveled ready for seeding. On 1 January (2010) the green was raked over to create a seed bed then the seed added along with some lawn starter. From all reports the seeded variety of couch should be up and playable a lot sooner than a sprig. As of 19 January there has been plenty of germination and the grass is really starting to move across the surface. This project is managed by VGA committeemen Adrian Marston and Warren Maynard along with a lot of help from VGA members Dave Zitter and Donald Whitehead. Regular updates will be posted on our website (www.victga.com) along with pictures. - Doug Agnew VGA President Victorian Greenkeepers Association Timing Tests and Bowl Speed Variations The RVBA Timing Ramp was originally calibrated for grass greens and with the advent of sand-filled synthetic greens this has been the accepted timing method for both surfaces. However, with the introduction of outdoor carpet- type synthetic green surfaces there have been marked timing differences between the ramp and the use of stopwatches. In general, carpet speeds can vary with current weather conditions slackening off in fine weather giving slower playing surfaces and increasing in speed in wet or cold conditions as they tighten up. There are now a number of different carpet types available and the degree of variations in green speeds appears to depend on carpet types, carpet tensions and prevailing weather conditions. The RVBA Greens Committee in association with David Lamble and Barry Holding conducted 15 indi- vidual tests on seven carpet-type greens comparing the RVBA ramp with the World Bowls ramp and stop watches. These tests started in September 2008 and were completed in December 2009. David is a physicist and is responsible for the origi- nal ramp calibrations, while Barry is an engineer, and at all sites wind speeds and surface temperatures were recorded. At all sites Greens Committee members operated stopwatches and for each bowl recorded, their results were averaged. Only bowls stopping within 50cms in front or behind the jack on the 27-metre mark were accepted with two bowls on each hand in both directions being recorded. The RVBA and World Bowls ramps were used first at every site and if there were major wind differences during the stopwatch test they were used again. The maximum timing difference between the RVBA ramp and stopwatches was four seconds with the minimum being half a second. It has been decided that because of the variability in speeds recorded on carpet surfaces, that clubs with these types of greens use a stopwatch for timing. Timing with a stopwatch should be in both directions then averaged to eliminate wind differences. A bent grass and sand-filled synthetic green were checked again to determine the accuracy of the ramp. On the bent grass green the difference between the ramp and average of the stopwatches was 0.02 of a second. The difference on the sand filled surface was 0.23 seconds. The World Bowls ramp is used with a Size 4 heavyweight unbiased bowl and it gave more realistic results, but it has to be assembled each time it is used and would be too cumbersome for general green timing. This ramp is basically used when greens are being tested for World Bowls approval, but at this stage because of the cost involved this procedure has not been accepted in Victoria. The bowl when delivered down this ramp gives a definite bump when it hits the green surface and there is some concern that this could affect the timing speed. World Bowls have been notified of our concerns with a request that the end of the ramp be altered to give a smooth roll. The final testing will be of interest to all bowlers as it was decided to check a number of different type bowls to determine the times they took to reach the 27-metre mark again allowing a tolerance of 50cm in front and behind the jack. There were six stopwatch readings for every bowl recorded which were aver- aged out. Again there were two recordings on each hand in both directions. The bowls used were all Size 4 heavyweights and were the following models: Pinnacle, Maestro, Super- grip, Drakes Special, Classic 11, Power and Taylor. The difference between the slowest and fastest bowl types was 0.30 of a second. If a finer tolerance is used, such as 25cms, the differences would possibly be smaller. In other words the straighter bowl types need less mo- mentum to reach the 27-metre mark and are delivered at a slower speed. The RVBA Greens Committee is grateful for the expertise of the two seconded members and to the following clubs for their co-operation in allowing the Committee to use their greens. They were Armadale, Coburg West, Eltham, Glen Waverley, Greensborough, Montmorency, Mount Waverley and Sandringham. The results from these tests will be forwarded to all clubs in the near future. - Max Fielder RVBA Greens Committee • Fawkner greenkeeper Phil Grant rotary-hoes the trial area at his club.
March April 2010