What is Groundsmanship?

Good question. This word doesn’t appear in the OED (Oxford English Dictionary), [online].

The term ‘Groundsman‘ (noun) is defined as: ‘One who is employed to keep in order a ground or grounds, esp. a cricket ground.’

Chambers dictionary (12th edn) provides a similar definition of  a ‘Groundsman’ as ‘a person whose job is to take care of a cricket ground or a sportsfield’.

Maybe some old turf specific literature might be more helpful, but no mention in ‘Practical Lawn Craft’ by R.B. Dawson (5th edn, 1959), although in ‘Practical Groundsmanship’ by L.W. White and W.H. Bowles (1952), which is a good starting place so we can start to build on their description.

Groundsmanship involves practical problem solving, as White and Bowles point out, “…the man engaged in producing and maintaining a turfed sports area is the man most likely to have thorough appreciation of the particular problems involved in his work, and to be able to present the practical side.”

“In choosing a title [for their book] they searched for words descriptive of that intangible quality which marks the “good” groundsman, i.e. the ability to apply his knowledge in such a way that the highest possible standard is reached and maintained, and the greatest pleasure and service given to users of his ground.”

“Science has always played a large part in the development of turf culture processes …. The competent groundsman therefore has an obligation to himself to keep abreast of all such developments, to familiarize himself with, and assess, their advantages as well as their possible disadvantages.”

We now need to weave this into a suitable, modern day, definition for ‘Groundsmanship’.

Looking at similar definitions:

Seamanship: ‘The art or practice of managing a ship at sea; the skill of a good seaman.’

Workmanship: ‘The (degree of) skill, art, or craftsmanship with which a task is done or a product made.’

Horsemanship: ‘The art of riding on horseback; skill or expertness in riding, equestrian performance.’

If we also look at the suffix -manship, this can help us in creating our definition:

“Forming abstract nouns …………. referring to human activity, in which the first element is an object used or handled skilfully or an action practised habitually or skilfully. The earliest forms with this sense appear to be the early 19th-cent.”

Groundsmanship {noun} : ‘The skill and applied knowledge of producing an amenity or sporting surface (which may be formed from natural grass or artificial grass, or a combination of these) to a safe and satisfactory standard for its users’.

Not bad for a starter, but I’ll expect to add more in due course.

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