IoG previews Saltex pitch standards framework launch

The Institute of Groundsmanship (IoG) is developing a pitch grading framework to launch at Saltex.

The tool will divide pitch quality into five bands, from ‘basic’ to ‘elite’ and matches each with the appropriate training, institute chief executive Geoff Webb told delegates at the Amenity Forum Conference, at Perelli Stadium, Burton-on-Trent on 13 October.

Webb said that in a recent survey of community pitches involved in the Grounds and Natural Turf Improvement Programme, the biggest issue was compaction.

"The problems out there are quite simple to fix but what we’ve got to do is change the culture, there is a lack of understanding," he said, The framework would "link from a community level pitch all the way through to Wembley, Twickenham, Wimbledon, wherever. As an industry we’ve recognised we need a more tangible framework to push standards through."

The £1.3m Grounds and Natural Turf Improvement Programme was launched in 2014 and funded by Sport England, the Institute of Groundsmanship (IOG), the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), The Football Association and the Rugby Football League, at a time when concern was raised about there being enough decent starter sports facilities to train up the next generation of sports people because of local authority cuts and the trend of more and more sports pitches being cared for by volunteers.

The second Heritage Lottery Fund State of UK Public Parks report, published in September found that sports pitches were the most likely green space to be transferred from local authorities to community groups. Some 50 per cent of the 198 parks managers surveyed said their local authority had done this between 2013 and 2016 and 16.7 per cent had transferred them to the voluntary sector. That figure rose to 53.1%, 20.4% to the voluntary sector, when parks managers were asked to predict what would happen in the next three years.

Webb also said the IoG was on a mission to achieve "parity" with other sports bodies. He said there was too much focus on coaching and not enough recognition given to the importance of groundscare to sporting achievement.

Chief executive of BIGGA, Jim Croxon, also spoke at the conference. He said the £10bn turnover business of golf, an export sport created in the UK, was entirely dependent on the excellence of its greenkeepers, with the key driver in both player satisfaction and golf club membership being the trueness of the green.

He repeated a quote by the UK’s biggest golf club group, Crown Golf, which said: "the biggest influencer on green fee revenue in our business is the quality of our greens". 


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