Bowling Green Maintenance Day – Knypersley Bowling Club

I’ve always been a huge supporter of free educational events, especially when they are open for all. I have had the pleasure to attend quite a few now over the years and I still walk away with new knowledge and contacts. This one was different from the rest, I’ve attended cricket, football, rugby, golf, and well, in fact, most sports for these seminar days across the world – however, this was the first one in bowls, a sport I tried my hand at out in Australia but never really put much thought into the maintenance. Sure these greens are actually very similar to golf greens but I never really appreciated the efforts of the teams that maintain them, unlike a golf course most bowling clubs are run by volunteers or members during their spare time.

dennis, sisis, bowling, green, seminar, presentation,

What also struck me as interesting was that members of these teams are sometimes paying between £30-100 per year to play, which I think is incredible, I’ve personally paid £30 a month to play football, and bowls looks like a bargain in comparison. This however does have quite a knock-on effect, lower memberships typically mean lower budgets, and as I’ll get onto soon that’s having a huge impact on the plabilty of some bowls surfaces, the funds for initiative or new equipment and materials are just not available.

The weather wasn’t so favourable on Wednesday 22nd May 2024, in fact, it was awful and rained for the entirety of the day. A shame because there was ‘On the Green’ demonstrations planned before the lunch break but to save the clubs green these demonstrations didn’t go ahead, the faithful Andy Walker came to Fruit and provided a hands-on workshop but I’ll get onto that soon.

dennis, mowers, workshop,
Andy Walker's mower workshop

Andy Walker, SISIS Field Support Manager or Mr SISIS as I like to call him opened the event with the standard welcomes and introductions, talking about the history of SISIS and his career. Andy then passed the microphone over to Stuart Yarwood, who many of you may know as Amenity Technical Manager for DLF/Johnsons Seeds. Stuart presented a fantastic talk on greens maintenance, during, before and post-season works. Stuart emphasised the importance of aeration and managing budgets to allow for timely applications of fertiliser, seed and wetting agents. I have been to a few of Stuart’s talks before, and I do enjoy them. Largely because I appreciate his approach to the presentations, rather than a 3 hours sales pitch it is often based on questions and answers, with good audience engagement and despite the fact that he works within seed sales you are never pushed to buy seed. Stuart then moved on to a presentation based around seed selection, varieties, poor and good quality seeds and why the local DIY store sells the same seed at half the price. Another talk I enjoyed and having spoken to several seed producers the information all adds up.

After the lunch buffet that was provided Andy Walker then moved on to his workshop session ‘How to get the best performance from your mower’, this included the usual pre-start checks, setting cuts, heights of cut and a demonstration on backlapping. A keynote was Andy’s mention of ensuring you only use water-based backlapping paste, oil-based pastes tend to stick around after machines have been washed, removing the sharp edge you’ve spent the last 20 minutes sharpening when the unit starts to cut grass. A topic we’re looking to cover more of in the future, let us know if you’d like to know more!

Ben Lloyd from the Howardson Group did a quick talk on funding, highlighting what was available and how the clubs could access more information.

To finish the day up ‘Turf Clinic’, Andy and Stuart took questions from the packed room of 40+ guests answering all types of questions, from the usual ‘What’s happened in this photo?’ to whats the difference between the battery and petrol-powered machinery? 

Thanks to Alison Pickering – Marketing & Events Co-ordinator at the Howardson Group, who is the brains behind the organisation of these fantastic events and Knypersley Bowls Club for hosting the event. If you see any of these events pop up near you or would like to host one I do recommend you get in contact or attend, even if they aren’t within your chosen sport I’m sure you’ll take some valuable information away from the events.