The first, early research work on one type of performance standard was undertaken in the 1960's by Drs Stewart and Adams. Their research found a relationship between the rebound bounce value of a cricket ball, the strength of the clay soil (by the use of the ASSB - The Adams & Stewart Soil Binding test, otherwise known as the 'Motty' test) and the pace of a prepared cricket wicket. (Stewart, V.I. (1994), 'Sports Turf Science Construction & Maintenance', E. & F.N. Spon 181-187)
The practical interpretation and use of this research work took several years to come into the main stream of cricket, however, an article by P. Dury entitled, 'Practical research on grass cricket pitches - A personal account' was published in 1978 in The Journal of the Sports Turf Research Institute (number 54, pages 36-47).
This usefully summarised how the research work undertaken by Stewart and Adams could be put to use in the maintenance of cricket wickets.
The concept of quality standards for sports pitches started to appear within industry magazines and publications during the 1980's.
A popular publication from 1980, 'Sportsground Construction & Management', identified the objectives for a range of sports facilities. The reference to rugby pitches was typical of these and included statements such as, 'The surface should be smooth, have no pot holes or undulations .... should, at all times, be firm but have sufficient resilience to afford a falling player protection .... Markings should be clear'.Dury, PLK, (1980), 'Sportsground Construction & Management', Nottinghamshire County Council
[Note: One of the main contributors to the 'Sportsground' publication was Peter Dury, who can with some justification be called a significant pioneer of Performance Quality Standards. In 1991 he was rewarded with the National Turfgrass Council Award for his services to the sport and leisure industry, whilst in 2002 he had an honorary doctorate degree conferred on him by Writtle College for his services to the turfgrass industry.]
Whilst there are very few defined, measurable criteria stated within that 'Sportsground' publication, there is a breadth of sports maintenance coverage along with a consistent theme of defining objectives and identifying the need to obtain more data about playing conditions, as well as maximising the use of resources. Because of this it can arguably be called the start of the road to today's Performance Quality Standards.
In 1985 the Sports Turf Research Institute (STRI) published a comprehensive article in their annual research journal which described test equipment and methods that were used for measuring playing characteristics. The importance of having objective measurements that can be used to set appropriate parameters for playing standards was clearly explained and the momentum to producing Performance Quality Standards was now rapidly gaining pace. (Bell, M.J. et al, (1985), 'Playing quality of sports surfaces: A review', The Journal of the Sports Turf Research Institute, Vol. 61, 26-45)
A year later, in 1986, an initiative by the Sports Council and the then Department for Education and Science funded a 5-year research project that looked into determining the playing quality of football pitches. There is a number of publications from this research project, 'The Natural Turf Pitches Prototypes Advisory Panel (then the Sports Council, now Sport England)
A summary of the findings of the project was published in the 1992 STRI journal. The most salient point from a management perspective was the identification of 'sustainable usage levels'. (This term has the same meaning as 'carrying capacity', which is often used within industry magazines, and has been used in recreation circles since at least the 1970's).
'Sustainable usage levels are considered to be that which gives the maximum usage of a pitch without causing anunacceptable reduction in playing quality, particularly in the latter stages of the season'. (Baker, SW, Gibbs, RJ. & Adams, WA., (1992), ‘Case studies of the performance of different designs of winter games pitches. I. Playing quality and usage’, Journal of the Sports Turf Research Institute, Vol. 68, pp20-32)
A series of articles appeared in the 'Greenkeeping Management' magazine during 1990 that looked at standards of golf greens. These articles mainly dealt with the speed of the greens and in particular the use of a stimpmeter to measure the green speed, however, they did raise the awareness of a range of playing characteristics of golf greens.
The main problem of measuring green speed was to do with the slopes that are found within the greens and how this could be addressed to give a meaningful average reading. This problem was solved by the use of a fairly simple formula and the stimpmeter has been a fairly common sight on quite a number of golf courses ever since. (Brede, Dr A.D., (1991), 'Speed tests on sloped greens', Turf Management, February, 33-35)
1991 saw the publication of the British Standard for grounds maintenance of amenity turf. This document included a section on the recommended maintenance programme for different categories of turf which could have been used as a precursor to developing more detailed guideline manuals for sportsturf, however, this potential was not grasped at the time. ( BS7370-3: 1991, 'Grounds Maintenance'. Part 3. Recommendations for maintenance of amenity and functional turf (other than sports turf)', British Standards Institution.)