Ferris top keeper by Jack Malcolm
Published September 09, 2020 1:26PM
Photo - TOP KEEPER: New Zealand Greenkeeper of the Year Jamey Ferris. Picture by Paul Rickard
It takes a lot of dedication to be a greenkeeper of a bowling club.
You'll find Jamey Ferris down at his “local” almost every morning, often starting before the sun comes up.
Last week his dedication was acknowledged when he was named the Greenkeeper of the Year at the Bowls New Zealand Summerset Awards 2020.
He manages the greens of Gisborne and Kahutia bowling clubs and the Patutahi Golf Club. He also consults for bowls clubs in Napier and Tolaga Bay.
Ferris was nominated with references from several of the clubs he works with and said it was his wide-ranging portfolio and personality that helped him secure the title.
The official announcement of the award said his nomination came with “a string of endorsements and references”.
It's a fulltime job keeping the greens perfectly manicured, consistently scoring a greens rating of 55/60 for Gisborne Bowling Club — he lost points for having more than one species on the surface.
It's a minor issue. They're rated high enough to host national competitions, and the club plans to resurface its greens next year to address the issue.
A common misconception is that bowling greens are grass, but Ferris says they're more of a weed.
The Gisborne Bowling Club has a Maniototo surface while Kahutia has starweed.
Ferris says he believes Maniototo is a better playing surface, but it takes significantly more upkeep.
“You want a smooth running surface; you're playing a sport and players want to play on the best.
“We try to keep it as flat as possible. There's a tolerance of five millimetres (difference) over five metres.”
Gisborne Bowling Club president Rod McCulloch said the quality of the club's greens was a testament to Ferris's skills, work ethic and desire to keep learning.
“They are exceptional to play on, and it's always nice to hear comments from others about how wonderful the greens are.”
Ferris is a skilled sportsman, previously boasting a 3.2 handicap in golf, and is one of the best bowlers in the region, having won the open men's singles title three times.
“I'd been there a few months before I was asked if I wanted to play and I fell in love with it.”
Ferris applied for the greenkeeper position shortly after he moved to Gisborne 10 years ago and learnt under Rex Hooker.
“He gave me the foundation; there's a lot going on with this (job).”
“A lot of greenkeepers use a lot of fungicides. I found my own way, taking an organic approach.
“Less chemicals, more worm and seaweed teas.”
He says he is also trying to buck the stereotype that greenkeepers are grumpy, but he still has pet peeves.
It's a running joke that the greenkeeper is the reason for everyone's misfortune, from a wayward bowl to the onset of rainy weather.
“It's all in good fun . . . I love this job and the people.”
He wanted to thank the clubs and people he had worked with: “Without them, I couldn't have won this award.”