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Your Club Needs You!

Strong leaders emerge in times of greatest need.

I had an interesting conversation with a bowling club official last night that focussed mainly, not on the green for a change, but the club turnaround process that she hopes to take her club through starting soon.  Yesterdays post of course, emphasised the urgency of getting started on any project of this nature in the middle of the bowling season; so it was quite fortuitous that this was fresh in my mind, because she asked me a direct question which went some thing like this:

“John. If you were to lead the turnaround of my club, what would you do first and then how would the project pan out after that?”

She was looking for a step by step plan of course that she could apply to her situation.

My answer was emphatic, clear…and mercenary:

Step 1: buy my eBook: Bowling Club Survival and Turnaround; its under a tenner if you are a member of the Bowls Club Mastermind Network and it spells out in 7 easy steps what to do and exactly how to do it.

I was then slightly embarrassed when she said she already had the eBook and that she had read it cover to cover, several times and had made copious notes and was absolutely 100% convinced that it contained the answer to her club’s problems.

The trouble is that she is still having trouble getting what she called “buy in” from the rest of the committee of the club.

“They just can’t accept that decades of slippage, accompanied by the most unpredictable recession in a century, the smoking ban, the cost of living, the general reduction in interest in bowling etc etc could possibly be turned around, let alone by some eBook or other!”

BINGO! I said, that’s it! They are absolutely correct; it can’t be!

Confused looks ensued!

You see my eBook is a series of thoughts, of ideas, of recommendations of which I am convinced, but an eBook alone cannot possibly help your club to get out of its current mess and secure a bright future.

So Step 3 is to implement what you have read in the eBook and that means ACTION!

Step 2 by the way, in case you are wondering, is NOT to tell anyone that you have a new eBook by some geezer on the internet that is going to work miracles for the club!

And that is because it is the enthusiasm of a leader like you; a leader who steps up in a time of crisis, a leader armed with the correct plan and convinced that success is only a bit of blood, sweat and tears away that turns clubs around.

Bowling Club Survival and Turnaround is only the blueprint; it needs an inspired leader to drive home the value of its contents.

There is one such leader tucked away in every club I have ever visited!

Bowling Club Survival and Turnaround
Bowling Club Survival and Turnaround
In this ebook we take you through a groundbreaking, step by step blueprint to save your struggling bowling club and reveal the 7 key steps that you can start taking immediately to start making a serious go of your club. more details
Price: £9.97

Worn Heads on the Bowls Green

Annual Meadow Grass takes over worn heads (photo by S Kennerley)

The rink heads on the bowling green are subject to higher levels of wear and tear than any other playable part of the green.

The concentration of foot traffic on these areas causes severe compaction of the soil resulting in poor growth characteristics and in many cases invasion by annual meadow grass. Due to the shallow rooting of this grass the heads can quickly become skinned and badly worn with little grass cover. I’ve uploaded a new Worn Heads Factsheet to the Mastermind Network area detailing what you can do to minimise and prevent wear and how to properly renovate heads so that they don’t keep wearing out.

Bowls Club Survival-Action not Words required


Last year John Woodcock, MP for Barrow-in-Furness has raised a Bill in Parliament to try to prevent bowling greens from being too easily sold off to developers.

The current planning laws say that amenity areas like bowling greens should not be zoned for building development if they are being used by a significantly sized group of people.

However, John Woodcock’s Bill aims to provide the facility to tighten these laws to make sure that all reasonable steps are taken to preserve the green; only allowing sale to developers as a last resort. This would include provision to offer greens to user groups first at market rates.

In a radio discussion about the bill there was also an interview with Read more

Performance Bowls Green Maintenance Schedule

A few readers have asked for guidance on what work they should be carrying out on the green on a month to month basis.

Now of course conditions across the UK are widely varied at the moment; some areas in the south are free from frost, whilst here in Perthshire we can have very hard ground and many days of minus temperatures, in the southern parts of the country things can be and often are a lot milder.

When there is frost or snow cover its simply a waiting game; it really is best not to try to remove snow or ice from the green for two reasons:

  1. the damage that could be caused to the turf and soil by actually doing this work.
  2. the snow is affording the turf some protection from the worst of the cold weather; see my article on winter green protection here.

However, after the snow has gone and you start to see a prolonged period of thaw there are a few things you need to look out for as follows: Read more

Problems with Bowls Greens

Yes there are, but they are actually few in number and most of them are symptoms of the big 2.

Fusarium, Localised Dry Patch, Thatch Fungus, Compaction, Spongy Surface, Slow Green, Bumpy Surface, Anthracnose Disease, Dollar Spot, Thatch, Slime, Algae, Fairy Ring, Moss, Leatherjackets, Poor grass growth, Annual Meadow Grass, Weeds, Pearlwort, Angry members, Excessive water costs, etc etc…blah blah blah.

I could go on for a long time with that list.

This is another composite question from the search results on the site this month. About 40 people so far have typed in something like “I’ve got problems on my bowling green”

As regulars know there are only 2 problems on bowling greens; thatch and compaction and everything else is simply a symptom of these two.

So the question should maybe be:

How do bowling greens succumb to thatch and compaction?

Answer: Inappropriate Maintenance Practices.

The Circle of Decline explains this fully.


Bowls Greens don’t have beds!

I often hear the phrase “putting the green to bed” at this time of year.

It is the most frustrating thing to hear because I don’t know of any club that can afford the luxury of stopping work on the green now.

The autumn and winter period is the most important time to get on top of a range of big problems that blight bowling greens.

For example Thatch encourages diseases such as fusarium, insect pests like leatherjackets and chafer grubs and contributes significantly to the onset of Localised Dry Patch the modern scourge of bowling greens throughout the UK. As if that wasn’t enough excessive thatch also saps the speed from your green and causes heavy, unpredictable rinks, contributes to un-even surfaces, causes bumpiness and bad rinks, reduces the efficacy of fertilisers and encourages weed grasses such as annual meadow grass to predominate the sward.

Then there is Compaction which impedes natural drainage, causes shallow rooting of grasses (which leads to skinning on heads), impedes irrigation and rain penetration and causes root break. And that’s before we even consider its expertise at encouraging weed grasses such as annual meadow grass, its ability to severely reduce the efficiency of irrigation, efficacy of fertilisers and its major contributory role in the creation of un-even surfaces and loss of grass cover on edges and heads.

If you only deal with these two issues this winter you will have gone a long way towards creating a performance green; they won’t go away by giving the green “a rest”.

I recently uploaded a new 18 page special report on autumn and Winter Maintenance of the Bowling Green to the Shop which shows you how to deal with thatch and compaction this Autumn and Winter as well as a host of other problems like Insect Pests, Fungal Disease, Localised Dry Patch and Moss.

My Bowls Green is a Disaster what can be done?

Get back to the basics of thatch and compaction control

Here we go with our next web search term that resulted in someone finding this site.

I picked this one today, because it sounds like this search was instigated by someone who really needs help quickly.

This kind of situation calls for a level headed approach. At times like this, when it appears that all is lost and you feel like digging up the green and starting again, it’s easy to Read more

Why do greenkeepers spike a bowls green?

We spike to alleviate compaction and introduce more air into the soil.

Ok, our first web search term question. I’ll try to follow this format for all questions, i.e. the question will be the title of the post, there will be a concise, one sentence answer in block quotes for those in a hurry and then we’ll look a bit more in-depth for those who want more detail.

Comments of course will be welcome as always, so feel free to ask questions, or throw in your contribution.

OK, so the first one is a common one:

First of all let’s explain what the term “spike” means.

Spiking is a generic term used to describe Read more

Circle of Improvement

My post yesterday looked at the huge extent to which the top 100mm (4inches) of our greens have been subjected to sand over the previous 3 or 4 decades.

Today I’d like to elaborate a little on my thinking about taking a green from that state to one of High Performance.

The recovery process is based on encouraging that same top 100mm to return to a state that is akin to a natural, healthy living soil. This of course takes time as we are actually waiting for nature to produce more organic matter to ameliorate the sand to bring the soil back to a state where it can support a large, thriving population of soil microbes.

If you imagine my sketch of the “Circle of Decline” as a water wheel spinning fiercely in a clockwise direction; in other words out of control due to inappropriate maintenance. Each application of sand, pesticide, excessive N fertiliser, etc only serves to set the wheel spinning ever faster in the wrong direction.

The performance greens program is aiming to make the wheel turn in the opposite direction so a lot of the effort at the beginning is simply to slow the wheel down gradually until it is eventually stopped. The program then needs to get the wheel to start turning in the other direction.

Once it starts to turn in the right direction every bit of the correct maintenance program just makes it go faster and faster, so although the recovery process is slow at first, it builds very quickly once things are turned around.

We then start to see the action of what I am going to call the Circle of Improvement due to lack of imagination!

Every ounce of new Read more

Slime on Bowls Green

Another enquiry that suffered from our email address problem on the web form was this one:

What causes small patches of black “slime” on our green and what are the short and long term fixes? The patches are slippery.

Now this is an easier one to fix than the myriad of problems being experienced by the bees!

Slime on the green surface is an indicator of acidic soil conditions. This is likely to be accompanied by dense thatch, compaction and a general lack of health and anaerobic conditions in the green and soil. The soil pH is likely to be very low.

The circle of decline fleshes this out comprehensively.

Tackling the root cause is of course the best way to proceed in the long term and just about anything you read on this site about green maintenance will point you in the right direction, with frequent aeration being the most beneficial practice to concentrate on.

In the short term you can get rid of the slime by adding a teacup full of farmers lime to a bucket of tepid water.  Stir this until it is fully dissolved and then make up to 20 litres with cold water.  Make sure that this is fully mixed before adding to a knapsack sprayer and spot treating the areas of slime.

Use the sprayer as you would for any other application i.e. by walking over the area and spraying as you pass; don’t stand still to spray individual areas as this will result in overdosing and possible damage to the grass.

Walk over the green in two directions, pulling the trigger each time you come to a patch of slime.

Final precautions: Don’t handle the lime without eye and skin protection and make sure that the sprayer is clear of all total weed-killer that it might have been used for previously. Don’t be tempted to use the lime in its powder form on the green.