The first time I remember thinking about turf and grass sports it must have been in the mid 70"s, I was very young. I was rolling around in a rugby field at Harrow RFC, it was soft and cold. We used to get free shady after the game, from a watering can, green plastic one. I always remember feeling healthy. It was exciting times. I remembered the smell of mud and the smell of the game. As I grew up my brothers got bigger than me, much bigger. I was nippy and fast, they were heavy and slow. But better than me. I remember the green turf.
I didn't stay on the turf at Harrow RFC, I moved on to new patches of turf, I went to try the turf at the local golf club in Pinner, at the tennis courts at the Hurlingham Club, the croquet grounds at Phylis Court in Henley on Thames, the football grounds at Brentford, the summer days at Wimbledon, the long days watching the ashes at Lords, you see inside of every grass sport is a different challenge, but one that I really appreciated.
The challenge wasn't just the sport but my relationship with the turf.
I looked and looked, they were hard to keep perfect, but I was hooked.
To me there was more to the sport than just the game, the grass mattered more. I'd go back year after year and wonder more about the grass that the game. Weird that some might say.
But I'd learnt that perhaps I was a grass man, just someone who was obsessed with doing one thing well, again all the odds.
Maybe, thats why I'd find my self hooked to the grass like the sport, a challenge to make grass perfect, it would push me hard.
The culture of being outside, the creativeness, the freedom, and the constant feedback was so different to the daily plod. I was always willing to go further and learn more.
For me the sport was bigger than just the game for me.
Turf management has moved on so much, so very much since the early days when I was rolling around in mud. The turf now needs to be managed through agronomy, work one with nature.
Gone are the days of chemicals.
Making a lawn, a ground, a pitch, patch of ground better is never easy. But more people are trying to get the bug, so much so that a worldwide community is out there to connect with.
That can only be a good thing.
The header images:
- 1st hole at Pinner Hill GC some many years ago.
- Angus my son playing rugby for Harrogate in Portugal on some fine managed turf.
- A summer day at Lords before the Ashes started, can't remember year.
- A view from the stands at Brentfords old ground at Griffin park, London.
- And my younger brother Chris and Jamie doing a wheel barrow dash to get to the lawns by the pub in Little Friston.