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Bowls Green Turf Disease

There is a lot of confusion about fungal turf diseases.

The main issues that worry many people are as follows:

  • Accurate disease identification; not sure what we have so don’t know what to use.
  • Contamination being brought onto a clean green from a diseased green via bowlers’ feet and/or contractors machinery.
  • Fungicide rotation to prevent immunity
  • Repeat infection of greens
  • Disease Forecasts and what to do about them.

Let’s have a look at these in order:

Accurate Disease Identification.

Although it is always prudent to make sure you know exactly what fungal disease you have, the fact remains is that you have a fungal disease on your green and regardless of what it is, it is merely a symptom of other factors. So the urgent requirement is to stop it spreading any further. Broad spectrum fungicides do exactly as you would imagine, they kill most fungal pathogens so if you are using an up to date contact fungicide, you will more than likely be successful in stopping the disease with an application.

However, this is analogous with continually taking pain killers, but never going to the doctor to find out what is causing the pain. There are some more in-depth articles on symptoms and causes on bowling greens here.

Contamination by feet or machinery.

This crops up several times a year in my travels. I even see trays of disinfectant being left out for bowlers to walk through before going onto the green…and unfortunately the green is more likely to be adversely affected by the disinfectant than anything that could possibly come in on a machine or shoe.

The fact is that many of the common fungal disease pathogens like fusarium, red-thread, anthracnose etc are already present in your green, but they only cause problems when we make the conditions favourable for them, by allowing the green to become excessively thatchy and/or weak and waterlogged.

Fungicide rotation/ repeat Infection

Last year I visited a golf course to give advice. They were looking for an expert witness to prove that a manager had made the wrong decision in using the same fungicide two years in a row and now the greens were riddled with fusarium.

The greens were truly awful but the club had missed the point completely. The issue wasn’t the incorrect selection of chemical; it was the blind reliance on treating symptoms instead of working towards a healthy sward/soil relationship.

There was in excess of 3 inches of smelly, waterlogged, yellow, anaerobic thatch on every green. There isn’t a fungicide in the world that could keep disease at bay in such conditions.

Disease Forecasting

I know this scare-mongering tactic has caught on in recent years as a fungicide selling tool, but come on! This is absolute nonsense for all of the reasons noted above. Regardless of what the disease forecast says; if your green is in healthy condition as per our performance green standard, disease will not get a hold to any detrimental degree.

There are more in depth articles on turf disease, its causes and cures here.


  1. robert says:

    On a related subject…. there is an infestation of chafer grubs in a nearby park to the bowling green… do you have any suggestions on how to prevent a possible infestation of the bowling green…. (yes I know I’m paranoid!) and if there was one… what methods to deal with this would you suggest…?

  2. John says:

    again, keeping thatch under control is the main thing.
    Beyond that you can use chemical treatments. The most effective of these have imidacloprid as the active ingredient, you can do a search on that to find suitable products.
    Always take advice from a local BASIS registered adviser before selecting and using pesticides. This will ensure you are getting the most up to date advice in what is an ever changing legislative area.

  3. Allan rees says:

    We have a couple of slimmy patches on our green that are very slippery any help would be appreciated to cure the problem .

    • John says:

      Hi Allan

      It sounds as if you have a problem with slime/algae on your green surface which is usually associated with acidic/anaerobic soil. I suspect that your green has suffered from localised dry patch in the past and is fairly thatchy at the surface. Slime is a common problem in these conditions.

      Aeration is important as is reducing thatch build up. A Calcium Carbonate application after tining will also help, but send me a recent soil analysis if you have it and some photos if you can and I’ll try to help further.



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