STRI has long association with bowls at Victoria Park working with Warwick District Council to provide agronomy, bowling green construction and tournament monitoring advice. Victoria Park in Royal Leamington Spa is host to Bowls England National Championships and a previous venue for World Championship Bowls in 1996 and 2004, in addition to other national and international matches at this historic five green bowls venue. Victoria Park will also stage the 2022 Commonwealth Games.
- Victoria Park traditionally hosted Bowls England Women’s National Championships since 1975 as a two week annual tournament. Bowls England relocated their headquarters from Worthing in 2015 bringing the Men’s National Championships and Junior events to this historic spa town in the heart of Warwickshire.
- The tournament schedule was extended to 31 days consecutive play to accommodate over 1000 matches and welcoming 30,000 spectators.
- STRI Programme performance measurement data was introduced in 2010 following an audit of condition and management. The data provided an objective benchmark of tournament condition across five years.
- Various aspects of greenkeeping needed to be reviewed to sustain a high level of performance across such a long tournament period. Infrastructure and resources needed to be reviewed to ensure the level of performance did not deteriorate.
- STRI Irrigation Audit. Keeping reliable control of moisture was going to be critical. An irrigation audit highlighted concerns and recommended the need for installing a new system in addition to educating the greenkeepers in the importance of monitoring soil moisture content and keeping control of performance and turfgrass stress.
- Increased level of regular agronomy support. Monthly visits are scheduled to review conditions and provide advice for ongoing management. Performance data is regularly collected to support the decision making process. The aim is to provide an accurate measure of the performance and condition of bowling surfaces to pinpoint the areas where the focus and attention of the maintenance programme is required.
- Ongoing levels surveying. Carried out to identify areas for levels improvement and measure progress towards improvement.
- Reporting. Provide concise reports for Warwick District Council and Bowls England. These are provided to aid communication.
The combined National Championships have successfully been staged for the past three years. Performance data confirms a consistent level of playability and where further improvements can be made.
The standard of the surfaces continues to be befitting of a national and international venue.
The next challenge will be working towards the 2022 Commonwealth Games and designing the methods and schedule for the world stage with proven sustainability and green credentials and to leave a legacy for the community.