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Bowls In Focus : June July 2010
34 Bowls In Focus Winter Greenkeeping Greenkeepers may not be seen to be busy during winter months, but there is plenty of important work going on to get their greens ready for the start of the new season in spring. Tift Dwarf greens go dormant and growth really slows down during winter, so renovation work is carried out during the hot summer months. Some of the issues during winter are managing moss and algae growth, weed invasion and wear and tear from bowlers playing during this time. Disease prevention is normally done over the autumn period to avoid damage caused by Spring Dead Spot disease. Some other fungicide spraying to control other diseases that may arise during this time, so regular checking is required. Mechanic brooming of the surface is done to remove any rubbish from the surface and regular morning dew removal is carried out to dry the grass for the preparation of bowls games. The winter period is the best time for all green- keepers to update and repair their machinery to make sure everything is in good condition, because often there is not enough time during the season to deal with these issues. It may be true that some greenkeepers who look after Tift Dwarf greens do not work as hard over the winter months as Bent Grass greenkeepers, but they really work very long hours over warmer months and go very hard during the renovation period to get their greens back in play as soon as possible so bowlers can get back on them. In autumn Bent Grass greens are often worn down from a long season of bowling and the stress- es put on the grass during the hot summer months. Renovation time is used to reseed the green, to grow new plants across the surface, and fill in any bare or thin areas. The whole green needs recondi- tioning such as compaction relief, topdressing and thatch removal. Thatch is the result of grass build-up on and just below the surface of the green and if left to grow and develop a thick layer can result in causing a slow spongy bowling surface to play on. Scarifying and coring are the common methods for the removal and reduction of this layer. Scarify- ing is carried out at the end of autumn and after the rubbish is removed and the green cleaned, the surface in open and ready for reseeding. Extra scarifying is done during winter when the grass cover is achieved and it helps to reduce soil compaction and cuts new grooves in the surface. This assists with water and nutrient penetration of the soil and new roots will grow in these areas. Normally a soil test is carried out before this work is done to check for any nutrient deficiencies and to see if there is a need to adjust the PH level in the soil, which should be close to 6.5. Fertilising the green is important to encourage the established grass and new seedlings to grow and recover from all the mechanical work. The grass responds to the fertiliser applications by growing actively and tends to become lush green, which also makes it soft and is easily damaged. The daylight length gets shorter, the grass if often wet and when the temperatures get colder the grass is susceptible to damage from greens mow- ers and disease attack. The two common ailments during winter on Bent Grass are Winter Fusarium and Damping Off dis- ease, which attacks the seedlings and can cause some death of the new plants. Diligent checking of greens and proper fungicide application will help to avoid detrimental problems occurring. In the timing of topdressing it is important to wait until a full grass cover is achieved. Likewise, the timing of the weather is important as we need a good dry sunny day to have the topdressing sand spread over the green to be completely dried by the sun and wind before the screeding process can be completed successfully. Try and not wait too long as waiting for good weather can hold the job up for weeks during bad winter weather and can jeopardise the opening of a season by having sand still on the grass surface. For greenkeepers this time of year may also be a good opportunity to take some holidays or try and reconnect with the family after being absent during the summer months. - Doug Agnew VGA President Victorian Greenkeepers Association Contrasts and Comparisons This is not the tale of two cities but cites the differ- ences between two Bowls Victoria affiliated clubs. One is in New South Wales opposite Robinvale with the other in North Eastern Victoria south of Wodonga. One is classified as a grape, citrus and sheep farm- ing region and the other a dairying, cattle and small specialist crop region. Both have a nominal popula- tion of less than 500, each with a hotel and there the similarities end. The Euston Bowling Club had its first recorded event in 1981. Prior to its opening the Robinvale club was the venue for bowlers across the river. Since then the Euston Club has expanded with two bowling greens, one couch and a new carpet green with an overhead retractable shade cloth roof. When the roof is used the temperature is lowered by 8-10 degrees Celsius giving enjoyable bowling conditions on hot days. Its is a world class complex with excellent dining facilities, gaming machines, 22 motel units, self- contained cabins and lawn tennis courts. The club with its many facilities has become the entertainment centre for the surrounding districts. Robinvale's bowling club closed about ten years ago and most bowlers now play at Euston. At the start of last season there was a combined registered member- ship of 58. Then there is the 'complex' at Dederang, about 52 kilometres south of Wodonga on the Kiewa Valley Highway. It has a racecourse hosting popular picnic races, a combined football/cricket oval and a bowling green. The bowls club was established in 1988 and at the start of the 2009-2010 bowling season had a combined registered membership of 26. Club facilities are limited with the 'clubhouse', a pre- fabricated single car garage - but it is carpeted! There are no on-site toilet facilities and a relief break involves a walk of about 100 metres to a building beside the oval where there are facilities available, providing the building is not being used for other purposes. The bowling green is couch and when I saw it last March it was evenly grassed and in a good playing condition. The club received a water grant and has installed a 120,000 litre tank with water obtained from a spring up the hill and utilising drainage water from the green. All maintenance activities are carried out by a small band of dedicated volunteers. The Club does not have a pennant side and relies on social bowls and tournaments to remain viable. Tournaments are patronised by bowlers from other clubs to make sure Dederang is able to remain affili- ated within the current Association. During my visit secretary Geoff Carter explained the situation where they are governed to a certain extent by a Committee of Management responsible for the complex - which explains the no toilet saga for bowlers. The aim of the club is to have a proper clubhouse with a kitchen and toilet facilities and this essential amenity would encourage more bowlers to join and hopefully they can then put out a pennant side. If there is any person or organisation that might be able to donate a suitable shed or prefabricated building that could be adapted and used as a clubhouse I am sure the members would be most appreciative. They could then fit it out as they want - including toilets! On a different note champion Australian bowler Kelvin Kerkow wrote an article for the Queensland bowls magazine recently titled 'Grass Versus Synthetic Greens'. He was explaining the reasons so many Queensland clubs were changing to synthetics. Some of these are the availability of sporting grants, severe water restrictions and improved carpet technol- ogy. He also pointed out that when making a decision whether to stay natural or go synthetic, clubs must take into consideration the positives and negatives. It is his opinion that the positives of both surfaces outweigh the negatives, but that members should know what to expect from the negatives. Kelvin's last com- ment was that if it means the difference between the club surviving or folding then the decision is simple - go synthetic! These comments are a fact of life whether we agree or not. Times are changing and there are many things happening that we cannot control or manage. I, as many others will agree, consider the most satisfying and forgiving playing surface is a good bent or couch grass green. - Max Fielder RVBA Greens Committee • Commonwealth Games singles champion Kelvin Kerkow, shown here offering tips to an aspiring rookie, has frm views on green surface decisions. • NMIT greenkeeping students assist with top dressing a green at Brunswick Bowling Club.
Bowls In Focus May 2010
August September 2010