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Bowls In Focus : May 2011
34 Bowls In Focus Small But Successful Iwas a member of the Goodwill visit last March to the Tyrrell Bowls Association where there are only six small clubs but what they lack in numbers was offset by their friendliness, hospitality and goodwill on the greens. It was interesting to see how small clubs in the country can be viable, relying on volunteers for all the activities, including presenting good greens. The management of couch greens varied from club to club but the overall aim was to prevent this grass from developing a thatch and mat layer - and to be able to produce satisfactory playing surfaces in the long term. Treatments during the growing season varied from mowing six times each week to regular grooming to thin out the turf plus frequent light scarifying. The greens were a credit to the volunteers. There are currently two synthetic greens. Birchip Bowls Club celebrated its centenary last April and has a combined membership of forty- seven. Its synthetic green is now 13-years-old and they hope to replace it in two years time. To raise funds the club has a cropping arrangement and the money from this venture will hopefully pay for the replacement cost. Woomelang Bowling Club has two couch greens and this is the club that usually mows six times each week to prevent mat and thatch building up. It is anticipated that in the future they will install a synthetic green to take the pressure off the volunteers. They have a combined membership of about fifty Berriwillock Bowling Club, established in 1958, has a combined membership of thirty-eight but despite their small membership they have some excellent bowlers. The men won the Division 1 pennant final with the Division 2 side being runners-up. Their men’s pairs won the Group final and went on to play at Wangaratta, while the ladies are just as good with their champion four and singles players. The volunteer greenkeepers are Tom Renney and Graham Cox who presented an excellent couch green – no wonder they have good bowlers! Sea Lake Golf Bowls Club has a combined membership of for ty-six, again with two excellent greens maintained by volunteers. I remember when this club was located adjacent to the town oval and had a rather rundown clubhouse. After failed negotiations to have the clubhouse renewed the bowlers joined in with the golfers. As the golf club has sand greens most play is in winter and spring and both groups appear to have settled in. Culgoa Bowling Club was established in 1954 and has a combined membership including juniors and life members of 49. I was impressed with the improvements since my last visit with additional shade shelters and second-hand synthetic grass laid on the banks. The association dinner was held here and full credit must go to the ladies for their wonderful hospitality. Our final visit was to Quambatook Bowling Club, which has a new sand-filled synthetic green. This club is in a delightful setting close to the Avoca River. During the recent floods the water stopped rising just below the level of the green, which was a relief as the temporary levee bank was on the middle of the road between the club and the town. It has a combined membership of 39 with a modern clubhouse. It was a pleasure to be able to meet some of the members again after being at the club for their 50th Anniversary a few years ago. The general consensus from the touring group is that this was a most enjoyable week meeting so many friendly bowlers despite their problems with a period of drought years then this last wet soggy summer. Turf Talk Turf Talk Victorian Greenkeepers Association Machinery Used On Grass Greens Over the years many different types of machinery have been used on grass bowling greens and I’d like to share some information on the types available and their uses. Possibly the most important machine is the greens mower, very important to keep this machine in excellent working order. The machine needs to be serviced annually to make sure the bearings, chains, belts and rollers are all working properly. Regular attention is required to keep the cutting bedknife and cylinder sharp so the grass is cut to its best efficiency. Backlapping the cylinder helps to keep a sharp edge on both surfaces and produces the best results. It is almost a waste of time mowing a green with a blunt mower as the grass is not cut properly and a superior surface can be developed when the machine is maintained in a very sharp condition. Heavy ‘walk-behind’ rollers were common years ago, but now the ‘ride-on’ type is the preferred method with the heavier type used mainly in spring to help firm the surface and encourage a better early green speed. A comb fitted to the greens mower is sometimes still used to stand up the longer leaf to present it for the mower to cut off on bent grass greens, while scarifiers are used both at renovation and lightly during the season, to mainly remove grass and thatch which if left to build up will contribute to slow green speeds. Grooming machines are used mostly on couch greens as a part of on-going management along with low mowing to develop a firm tight surface during the growing season. Cylindrical brooms can be fitted to greens mowers to help clean up the green after this type of work. Aeration during renovation is normally coring with some contractors providing this service with professional golf type machines that core deeply and help remove the cores, while some greenkeepers still use the multicore type of machine. Verti-drain machines are a fairly new system, being a small tractor driven implement that punches solid tynes into the soil and lifts the ground to help relieve compaction. It is a method similar to a pitchfork pushing into the soil then the handle pushed back lifting the ground. This is sometimes done during the playing season because the green is easily rolled after completion and the green can be played on straight away. Drilling the green is a very slow process, but a very efficient way of penetrating the surface and producing deep clean holes that help the air and water into the soil without losing any of the surface hardness. Greens used to be topdressed and levelled with wires or rails stretched across them, levelled, then a screed dragged along to improve the levels. However, Laser grader machine are almost exclusively used now to level the soil when greens are reconstructed and can also be used to laser level top-dressing as well. The newest implement is the solid wire brush that is proving popular with greenkeepers. It is fitted into a greens mower and has the ability to remove grass from the surface that normally is hard to remove with standard mowing. It is great for couch surfaces to help keep the grass sward down and stop the green growing a thick and thatchy surface that can develop with poor mowing practices. Some greenkeepers who maintain bentgrass greens have had success using this in spring when their greens thicken up. For further information join the Victorian Green- keepers Association or check out the website www. victga.com. - Doug Agnew VGA Past President • Blackburn greenkeeper John Girvan at work with the club’s state-of-the-art mower.
March April 2011
June July 2011