Home » Bowls Green Levels; what can be done?

Bowls Green Levels; what can be done?



Laser surveying will tell you exactly where discrepancies occur down to about 1cm of change. This can be done on a 1 metre grid so that you end up with a very clear colour coded picture of the green surface.

However, once you have a survey result in front of you, what do you do with it?

Top Dressing?

Well you could embark on a program of localised top-dressing as I have seen some clubs do, but this is a largely futile process, as you simply can’t make a big enough impact in a reasonable timeframe for it to be truly noticeable or beneficial or worth the investment. In to the bargain, as you are doing this the green is changing all of the time.


Heavy rolling should be avoided, but regular light to medium weight rolling with a tru-level type roller is very beneficial.


In the end you must decide if the surface level discrepancies are something you can live with or if they really need to be tackled head on. In many cases, simply following a concerted program of aeration, thatch reduction and compaction control can and will improve green playability over time.

Making localised changes to green levels by more mechanical means such as lifting and relaying turf, can come at a very large cost, both financially and in terms of the headaches such work can bring on.

When you lift a part of a green to re-level it, you have to stop somewhere and inevitably this will be the start of a new problem area. The only real answer in this case is to re-build the entire green.

However, if you decide to go down that route you must remember that the overall result will only be as good as the design, workmanship and materials that go into the project and it is entirely possible that due to soil and ground characteristics out of your control that you will soon be re-visited by level problems even on a newly laid green.

I hope I am not sitting too firmly on the fence here, but I think greens should be prepared to a high standard as they are and then its over to the players to read and conquer them.

Whatever happens, a decision on these issues must be made by the club before embarking on any performance management program.


  1. Rob Moores - Grange Club says:

    Hello John,
    Just been reading your article on laser levelling. I’d never heard the term until I went to Australia to see my daughter. The Mornington Bowls Club held Friday night barefoot roll-ups for anybody to attend, so I went along to try out flat green bowling. In the course of a conversation this came up and I was quite impressed until cost came up.
    I’m glad to be a crown greener as they called me, because if we tried to mess with the contours of our green, we would get lynched. There are channels and hollows in our green which make it very difficult for visiting teams to read. This also means that you can still bowl well without necessarily following the jack line. The same principal applies when we play an away match. The advantage is very much with the home team but it makes a win more satisfying. You have to be right on top of your game to win away.
    I can remember David Corkhill at the World Indoor Championships this year saying that he had competed at a crown green event and how he found it hard to adjust.
    I’m not saying that Crown is better than Lawn Bowls,just that they are two different disciplines of the same game. I found that playing in flat green matches in Australia definately improved my line,length and consistency as well as my concentration and patience and I hope to carry that into the coming season which starts in two weeks time.

    • admin says:

      Thanks Rob

      Very interesting. Laser levelling is of course a temporary fix, as the green will continue to evolve over time.

      It will be interesting to hear other readers’ views on this one.



  2. Grenville Barnett says:

    Lazer leveling not within our budget.
    We just wait for a good down pour and photograph to puddles.
    Then we use an eight metre ladder with an a frame to keep it in line apply top dressing and drag the ladder across the green leaving the top dressing in the low spots and minimal top dressing on the high points Hey presto the green gradualy improves every year.(Ivybridge bowls club Devon.)Photogaphs available.

  3. Graham Thorne says:

    I am interested in laser leveling. Is it within the capabilities of the average volunteer greenkeeper. I guess you can hire the equipment? Does anyone know exactly what you would need to hire and how much it is likely to cost?

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