Brooms Head Bowling Club is located on the North Coast of NSW between Coffs Harbour and Ballina.
Greenkeeper Blair Littlechild has worked at the club for over 13 years. The club currently has Tifdwarf bowling greens, which have proven to be difficult to manage over the years. Some issues have included ground pearl, turf disease, salinity issues from proximity to the ocean and poor greens construction also a contributing factor to the overall performance of the greens.
Tifdwarf has been the prominent bowling green grass in Australia for over 40 years. Up until recently there have been limited alternatives with superior traits available to greenskeepers. Many bowling clubs operate with very limited budgets, so any investment in construction or refurbishment of greens is critical to get right. Bowls Australia produces Bowling Green Construction Guidelines that provide greenkeepers with a solid resource for ensuring greens facilities are constructed to a particular standard. These guidelines, with the experience and expertise of greenskeepers like Mr Littlechild, have gone a long way to ensuring quality bowling green surfaces in Australia.
Mr Littlechild, the club and their staff were looking for an alternative option that would address the issues they continue to experience. They were looking to introduce a more cost-effective surface that didn’t require the stretching of financial resources for upkeep costs and were prepared to look outside the box for these results.
Early discussions into exploring turf varietal trials began with communication between Mr Littlechilds and Simon Adermann from Lawn Solutions Australia (LSA). With Sir Grange Zoysia having achieved considerable success in the Australian sporting market, Teven Valley Golf Club nearby in particular, Mr Littlechilds asked Mr Adermann what other new turf varieties may be suited to being used in a bowling greens situation.
Trinity Zoysia is a newly introduced turf species in Australia, exclusively licensed through LSA and ticked a lot of the boxes required for a bowling green and for the Brooms Head climate and proximity to the beach. Trinity Zoysia is a Zoysia Matrella that was originally bred for the golf course industry as a versatile grass that can be mown low, primarily suited for greens and tees.
Mr Littlechild drove to Brisbane and checked out the newly installed Trinity Zoysia putting green at Indooroopilly Golf Club. Impressed with the appearance and performance of the grass, Mr Littlechild
put a trial proposal to the Brooms Head Bowling Committee. The proposal was approved in December 2019 to be trialled on one rink, making it the first trial in the world to use Trinity Zoysia for a bowling green application.
Eradication of Tifdwarf for the trial commenced in January 2020. Fumigation followed in February and Trinity Zoysia stolons supplied by Twin View Turf were planted in March. The Trinity Zoysia showed signs of fine white fibrous roots within 5 days of planting. Shortly after, 200 millimetres of rain fell leaving the greens underwater for over 4 days, but no damage was caused to the trial.
The Fertiliser program started 14 days after planting and progressed throughout winter. In August granular fertiliser was applied to promote growth and the green was top dressed in September. Mr Littlechild worked with Andrew Smith from Nuturf on the fertility program required to get the most out of the Trinity Zoysia.
From there regular mowing, grooming and rolling commenced to prepare the surface for play. Play started on the green in December 2020.
Over the next 12 months the club will monitor winter dormancy, playability, maintenance requirements and member feedback. If everything goes to plan the club will add another 3 rinks to the green in January 2022.
The primary goals they are hoping to achieve in order to determine the trials success include:
The grass has already received glowing reviews from both the committee and club members, with first and foremost Trinity looking and performing as a bowling green should. Members have commented on the beautiful fine leaf and some have even said it almost looks artificial with how good it looks.
“Australia is leading the way to find a new turfgrass variety for bowling greens – Trinity Zoysia is showing some really positive signs thanks to Brooms Head Bowling Club in New South Wales”. David Doguet, Trinity Zoysia Turf Breeder – Bladerunner Farms
Mr Littlechild would like to thank the volunteer support and the committee for backing the opportunity to trial this new grass and is excited to see how it performs over the coming years.
For more information on Lawn Solutions Australia Sports Turf varieties like Trinity Zoysia, click here.