Mowing Practices


Mowing is the term we use to describe the various cultivation practices the greenkeeper employs to control the growth of the turf grass and to maintain it at the desired level for a bowling green surface.

Mowing should take place every day when possible during the growing season and tapering off towards the autumn.

Mowing should not take place if the grass is wet or damp as this can cause the following problems:

  • Slipping of the rear roller
  • Incorrect height with soft surface
  • Grass to slip between cylinder and bottom blade causing bruising and uneven cutting
  • Electrical shorts
  • Teaser comb to clog causing surface damage.

Turning the mower correctly is of great importance as damage to the surface can result if carried out incorrectly. Operators have the tendency to stop after each turn, raise the front roller and release the clutch. This results in instant clutch engagement causing the front roller to crash down on the green. This causes the bottom blade to bury deeper into the grass, allowing the teaser to rip the surface, and results in damage to the cylinder and bottom blade. Too much clutch engagement will also result in quicker worn parts.

Bad Turning

Always ensure the filing tray is in place as this helps to scrap the rear roller of large pieces of earth which causes incorrect height cutting. It also assists in collecting the fine grass which accumulates on the surface encouraging thatch build-up resulting in fungi and insects on the green.

The greenkeeper should also keep a watchful eye for any irregularities which show up after mowing. Irregularities are symptomatic of faults in the mowing itself. For example there may be problems in the machine adjustments, possible worn bearings or poor alignment.

The most important features that can affect the mowing quality are:

  • Single and not double cutting (Always double cut when possible)
  • Speed of the mower

While the faster cut will produce an acceptable cut the slower speed will always have the smoother cut.

Direction Changing

It is important that a greenkeeper understands the meaning of the words The Nap of the grass.

The Nap of the grass is when the leaves of the grass tend to grow towards the morning sun. (A good example is we have all seen sunflowers turn with the direction of the sun to assist with better growth.

Depending on the texture of the grass the bowl will always be pushed against the grain of the grass.

To check the NAP of the grass hold a pole on the bank of the green at the east side at 8h30 so that its shadow falls across the green, to indicate the start of the Nap cut. This should be carried out at least once a week.

The first cut must start at the western side of the green and proceed towards the east and return on the same line as this will give a smoother cut appearance.

The Perimeter

The perimeter of the green (Outer 3.0 m) is exposed to more wear than any other part of the green mainly player traffic and machinery turning in that area.

Because of the increase in damage to the grass plant the defence mechanism is under stress and there is a greater need for Carbohydrate reserves to be built up in this area than anywhere else on the green.

The greenkeeper must ensure that the grass plants in this area are capable of producing more CHO and he should create a picture-frame effect by:

  • Raising the mowing height over the perimeter
  • Mowing the perimeter only once a week
  • Retaining the same mowing height all round but only doing a single cut on the perimeter
  • Leaving a thicker mat on the perimeter by not thinning out too vigorously

Picture Frame around Edges