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Bowls In Focus : March April 2010
46 Bowls In Focus No Rift About Tift The well-known Tiftdwarf couch has become a popular grass bowling surface for bowlers and clubs in Melbourne because of the persistence and belief by greenkeepers in the Victorian Greenkeep- ers Association. Tiftdwarf is a selection from American Tiftgreen golf greens in Georgia and South Carolina, where both greens were planted with Tiftgreen couch grass bought from the Georgia Coastal Plain Experiment Station at Tifton. Evidence indicates that Tiftdwarf is a vegetative mutant that occurred in Tiftgreen at Tifton before the first planting stock was sent out for testing. Tiftdwarf resembles Tiftgreen except that its leaves and internodes are significantly shorter than those of Tiftgreen and it has a darker green colour and turns into a reddish-purple hue after the first cool temperatures in the autumn. The grass was originally released by the Georgia Agricultural Experiment Station, Tifton and Crop Research Division, ARS, USDA, in 1965 for its superior putting quality for golf. The grass was bought into Australia and rumour has it that it was smuggled into the country stuffed in someone's shoe. But that couldn't possibly be true, could it? Byron Bay Bowls Club in on the northern NSW coast was the first in Australia to try out the grass when greenkeeper Roy Hulbert planted it in 1972. It has progressively been planted out into Queensland then into New South Wales, while now it is popular at many bowling greens all across Australia. There were common myths that this grass would not grow this far south in Australia due to the colder climate, but Melbourne Bowling Club has had two small Tiftdwarf greens for 30 years and Healesville up in the misty mountains has groomed its excel- lent Tiftdwarf for twenty-five. The Bentleigh Bowling club was the first to plant a full size green in the metropolitan area about 11 years ago, and the green is still going well, while they have planted another this summer. It was claimed at the time this green will be the first of many in the future. A total of 17 clubs have converted greens to Tiftdwarf couch this summer. These are: Lalor, Narre Warren, Moonee Valley, Buckley Park, Wer- ribee RSL, Williamstown, MCC, Upwey-Tecoma, Ringwood, Blackburn, Richmond Union, Boronia, Middle Park, East Ivanhoe, Bentleigh, Croydon and Waverly Golf. The other Tift greens that were planted over the previous summers are continually improving and the knowledge spread among greenkeepers asso- ciation members is helping the development. There is a major seminar planned later in the year to assist in educating greenkeepers, greens directors, volunteers and interested clubs on specific information about preparation and quality maintenance of this grass. The date and venue will be announced later. Visit www.victga.com for more information. - Doug Agnew VGA President Victorian Greenkeepers Association Fiction And Fact Isympathise with our Greenkeepers having to continually put up with demands for faster greens to accommodate bowlers who have minimum-bias bowls. It is a challenge to maintain green surfaces without having the extra pressures of coping with weather variables including windy days when these bowls easily veer off against the bias. How many times do we hear bowlers complaining about runs in a green when in fact a gust of wind can cause a directional variation - and the poor Greenkeeper is blamed! A number of slow grass greens could have a problem with a build-up of thatch and root mat. These could be old greens and as this layer holds moisture when it rains, or after watering, the play- ing surface will be slow. If the general maintenance procedures and severe renovations do not correct the problem and it is a bent grass green the last resort is to take off the top and re-sow in autumn. I was browsing through a copy of the fifth Austra- lian Bowling Carnival held at Sydney in 1926 when lo and behold I found the following comments about Alexander Johnstone. He was the pioneer of how the old school played bowls in New South Wales and it is interesting to note that the current situation with minimum-bias bowls is not new. The writer stated that Johnstone was the keen- est observer of the game and its most caustic critic. "As a player he regarded the opposing driver as a fiend and the man who drew the shot on a long head as the only one who played the game with skill and judgment - and as it should be played. He ridiculed the driver, encouraged the draw player, despised the man who played with narrow woods and regarded the short head player as one lacking confidence to play the game like a man." The article concluded by stating that Mr John- stone succeeded in convincing the Parramatta Club that bowls was a game of skill. Further to my previous article on green timing I have been asked to provide the actual times each tested bowl took to reach a distance within 50cms in front or behind the jack on the 27-metre mark. The timing results are the average of six digital stopwatch readings on the Sandringham Bowls Club carpet surface. Again there were two readings on the forehand and backhand giving a total of four readings for each bowl. The World Bowls approved Timing Ramp gave a speed of 15.03 seconds. The times were: Pinnacle 15.16 seconds; Mae- stro 14.94; Supergrip 15.03; Power 14.86; Classic II 14.96; Taylor 15.09; Drakes Special 14.99. If the tolerances had been 25cm in front or behind the jack the difference of 0.30 of a second could have been smaller. In 2003 the RVBA Greens Committee conducted a similar test at Mentone Bowling Club using four different bowl types with the end result being a dif- ference of 0.25 seconds. The person who had the task of delivering these bowls was David Lamble and the RVBA Greens Committee wishes to thank him for the time spent on this project. A similar test was conducted in the ACT using seven different bowls with three stopwatch opera- tors but only recording each bowl twice on the one hand at 27-metres. The difference recorded was 0.15 of a second. This proves to me that the actual time taken for a bowl to reach the head or the 27-metre mark is consistent, but the momentum needed for bowls to travel the required distance alters for each bowl type used. In other words the old Dunlop bowl with a wide draw needs more push compared to a minimum-bias bowl. I hope this puts to rest the tale that the new model bowls reach the head in a shorter time than the older ones. - Max Fielder RVBA Greens Committee • Association committeeman James Hood, the greenkeeper at Buckley Park Bowls Club, is shown working on one of the VGA grass trial greens.
Bowls In Focus May 2010