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Bowls In Focus : March April 2011
10 Bowls In Focus When it comes to grass little escapes the atten- tion of Beaumaris stalwar t Max Fielder, the doyen of greenkeepers, who was recently awarded the Order Of Australia Medal on the Australia Day honours list. Max is better known to the bowls world as a turf expert for the RVBA and Bowls Victoria with an oddball sense of humour who writes prolifically on his favourite subject, turf and turf management, in this magazine. In fact, not a blade of grass escapes his atten- tion when it comes to new lawns, bowling greens, golf greens and lawn tennis cour ts, particularly in the bayside suburbs that have been his stamping ground for many years. But what bowlers and other sports people who have benefited from his knowledge may not know is that the citation also reads ‘For Services to the Community’. When you understand what he has done, and still does, you realise the need to have a good sense of humour screwed in there some- where. Particularly as one of his commitments was as an early volunteer at Odyssey House, the well known drug rehabilitation centre on the banks of the Upper Yarra. Originally a graduate from the Longeranong Agricultural College, Max got roped in by a col- league to help establish a self-sufficiency project at the centre. “We set up a dairy and got that going. Then there was the haymaking - teaching it the old way - and the vegetables,” he paused before relating the fate of the vegetables. “We got the beans going okay but the ducks got the lettuces,” laughed Max, as he recalled another story not really printable here. His volunteer activities have also seen him work at the then Hampton Rehabilitation Hospital – now Southern Health Care Network Acute Rehabilitation Program – for 11 years. “I learnt a lot about public relations and ethics,” he said, explaining the work volunteers played in the road to recovery for many badly injured people. And he hasn’t stopped giving his time to people who need it. Max is currently working with the Kingston Community Care Program, an outreach program that helps meet the needs of local people in care. “You go around talking to people, but I must admit you do worry about some of them. You’ve got to have a sense of humour,” he added. Without it people like Max would simply not be able to do what they do best, help people. Within the bowling world, apart from his extraordinary contribution within the area of his expertise, he has also played a major role in the bowlers with disability program. His career and responsibilities have spread from jackaroo, to the CSRIO and Senior Advisor to the Turf Research and Advisory Institute at Frankston, which he helped set up in the early 1970s. This job resulted in his work spreading as far as the border of Western Australia, taking in everything from water catchment pastures to local tennis cour ts. And of course bowling greens; “And cemeteries, bowling greens, sports ovals, Government House, Parliament House and Botanical Gardens. Anything to do with grass,” he said. He was also a foundation member of the Grassland Society of Victoria and its treasurer for nine years. A keen golfer, a sport he enjoyed with his wife Jean and family for many years, Max took up bowling around 29 years ago and his ‘all over the countryside’ job gave him plenty of chances to practice both his sports. “I used to practice when I was away and would sneak onto golf courses. And I got paid for it,” he laughed. But his first serious contact with bowls came in 1978. “I was conned onto the greens committee for the 1980 World Bowling Championships at Frank- ston. The greens were terrible but in two years we brought them up to standard,” he said. But his expert advice didn’t finish there as he went on to become one of the most recognised figures on bowling greens, not only advising local clubs, but also working at interstate and interna- tional level. And the secret to a good bowling green? “A good greenkeeper is the secret of a good green,” he answered before offering an opinion that when using contractors it’s a case of paying for what you get. He is of the belief that in the days when clubs could afford their own keeper the greens were of a lot better standard. “Thir ty years ago clubs all had their own and I think they had better greens,” he recalled. The other secret about good grass surfaces is knowing how to water properly. And to this end Max can be credited with the saving the famous Barwon Heads golf greens during a severe drought period in the 1970’s, where he took core samples, explained it all to the membership, who then made up a roster to hand water each green in a specific manner and quantity. On the bowling scene another big task he faced was the overall supervision of bowling greens changing from bent grass to cooch. But he is also a grass man that can acknowledge that change is necessary and his knowledge is as good on synthetic greens as it is on grass. The change he says is a result of the expense involved in the upkeep of grass. His Australia Day honours listing comes not only for his behind the scenes contribution to the bowling fraternity – he has also been awarded the RVBA Medal of Merit, the highest accolade the sport bestows – but also for his unswerving support to other people. “The OAM came as a bit of shock. At first I felt embarrassed then humbled and now honoured,” he said. But no one knows better than Max that he could not have achieved what he has in his time had it not been for brilliant backing from behind. “I couldn’t have done it without Jean’s help, she has given me wonderful support all the way through,” he said. - D i Gatehouse www. .com.au email@example.com 2 011 Lawn Bowls Tours May March 2012 June August October SABAH LAWN BOWLS TOUR - Aussie Kangaroos v Sabah Orangutans 6 nights with Sandakan extension. DEP MAY 24 VIETNAM AND SINGAPORE - 1 1 nights - Features Saigon/Mekong Delta, Hoi An and Singapore. DEP JUNE 8 SINGAPORE AND HONG KONG - 6 nights - Enjoy the sights of the Orient. DEP JUNE 17 NORFOLK TRIPLES CLASSIC - 10 nights and $6000 prize money. DEP AUGUST 18 COOK ISLAND BOWLS CLASSIC - 8 nights - Enjoy bowls and this fantastic Pacific Paradise. Extension to Aitutaki Lagoon, relax and bowl. DEP OCTOBER 9 WESTERN AUSTRALIA BOWLS TOUR - Enquire today Freecall 1300 308 362 All tours fully escorted. For full itineraries contact Traveleaders. Contact Jeromy Nolan today 0417 697 296 1610979w National Honour For Turf Expert • Our greens columnist Max Fielder has been honoured with an Order Of Australia Medal.