The Secret Behind Poverty Bay Greens


- Trevor Mills
Our People

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Both the Gisborne and Kahutia Bowling Clubs are continuing to enjoy some of the best playing surfaces in the country - and the world for that matter - thanks to the dedication and skill of their thirty-eight year old greenkeeper, Jamey Ferris.

Jamey prepares for battle on the greens at the Kahutia Bowling Club, Gisborne

Looking after two clubs and their greens may not sound too difficult, but with the Gisborne Bowling Club having two and a half Maniototo greens and Kahutia having two Starweed greens, the situation is a lot more complex.

Jamey feels that Maniototo is superior to Starweed.  But realises that it does take more management time - with problems with heat stresses, water allocation and diseases.  "Starweed is a good all round plant, but it needs continuous intensive mowing to keep the size of the crowns small."

Jamey is convinced that a key component to improving the greens surfaces is using the Toro HydroJect 3000 Aerator - which increases speed and smoothness.  The Aerator improves aeration of the soil by making thousands of small holes in the green, and uses water pressure jets up to 5000 psi to penetrate 10cm down allowing the oxygen in the water to reach the root zone.

Jamey reports that the root depth has improved from 10mm before the  Aerator was used, to 80mm after constant periodic treatments.  Micro-organisms in the soil are also stimulated, and thatch on the surface of the green is disrupted and broken up.

Soil tests are done every three years.  Jamey favours regular applications of natural liquid seaweed, and is really pleased that the nasty sprays of old have been replaced by more eco-friendly remedies.

Before taking up bowls Jamey was a highly-skilled golfer who at one stage got his handicap down to 3.2.  He also played cricket for the Gisborne Boys High School 1st XI.

But it is in bowls that he has forged an impressive career.

Still eligible for 8 Years and Under events, Jamey holds a Centre Silver Star award for five Champion of Champions Junior event wins.  But his most impressive victories have been two Centre Open Singles titles - the first in just his fourth season of the game.  His second win this season was really special when he beat both Robin Jefferson in the quarterfinals and Vern Marshall in the final to take out the event.

Looking back through Jamey's whakapapa the name of his grandfather, Bill Edwards, stands out.  Bill was an outstanding winger for the Poverty Bay Rugby team in the late 1940's, mine host at a number of local hotels over the years, and a popular member of the Kahutia Bowling Club. His memory is still celebrated annually when Kahutia and Gisborne contest the aptly named Bill Edwards Memorial Tankard.

Bowling Clubs are only as good as their greens is a well-known saying.  We hope that Jamey continues to provide outstanding greens for the members of both clubs for many years to come.