Arthur’s Story

Wangaratta City Ladies Bowling Club

by Arthur Clarke ~ July 2009

To run a successful Bowling Club it is important to have good greens and facilities. Being a greenkeeper can be a stressful and time consuming occupation with many ups and downs.

This is my story:

I started as the Club’s greenkeeper in September 1995 after Mr. Harry Harrington and his assistant Ivan McNamara retired.

The green needed a lot of work as the four corners for up to two meters had no grass growing due to the lack of any sunlight, as the boundary fence around the green had a heavy growth of small trees and shrubs and all these were removed.

The ditches needed to be filled with sand to bring them up to the required level. Repairs had to be carried out on the mowers, roller, machinery and pump spraying equipment. All electric leads were replaced.

Moss and algae on the green was always a problem. Surface water from the adjacent Olympic swimming pool surrounds, was seeping onto the green.

In May 1996 the overhead water butterfly sprinkler system was replaced as they were ineffective on a windy day. The sprinklers and old pipes dripped most of the time and left wet rings on the green. These were replaced with new pipes and automatic monsoon sprays on a time clock at a cost of approx. $4,800. Because the grass root system on the green had formed a hard crust we engaged Grass and Turf to core the green to a depth of 8 inches to break the crust and allow the grass to breathe and water to penetrate to the root system (cost $329. 00)

In 1977 Banksia roses were planted. A metre of green shade cloth was attached to the boundary fence, mainly to stop the glare from parked car windows interfering with bowlers on the green. For privacy shade cloth was put on the side fence of the swimming pool. A wind storm blew the shelters down that were near the Wetlands and these were replaced with shade cloth.

During 1998 a plague of Scarab beetles attacked the grass root system, moss was the main concern. A soil test was sent to Melbourne in 1999. The report was a disease called “Diechslorea” that was in the grass root system and the green was dying. Turf-Hogg from Bendigo was engaged to remove all the sand and prepare a complete new ‘Laser’ level green at the cost of approx. $11,000. The core seedlings for the green came from Wangaratta Bowls Club.

I officially retired as green keeper in June 1999. Paul Jenner was then appointed as green keeper. He was also tending to the greens at Wangaratta and Kilmore Bowls Clubs. Paul lived at Lancefield. It is my opinion the new green never received enough attention in the early stages; therefore it never became as good as it should have, so therefore it was not successful.

Andrew Terry from Benalla was appointed greenkeeper in 2002 with assistance from myself. The rubber around the rinks was replaced with synthetic grass (approx, $1,000) and a new treated pine plinth was put in place. As the green was then in good condition, the O&M Association held fixtures at the club.

Damien Simmonds became the next green keeper. Because of severe drought and water restrictions conditions the green started showing signs of stress. Water had to be carted from Eldorado once a week by Don Allen and Alan Jelley to try and keep the green alive. The club was to finish the season playing bowls at Wangaratta Bowls Club and on the synthetic green at St John’s Retirement Village.

Wangaratta City Ladies Bowling Club is now the proud owners of a synthetic carpet green and refurbished modern club rooms in a picturesque setting, I hope they can flourish in the future with a good membership and a lot of interest revolving around this great club.

In the year of the club’s 40th Anniversary it is fitting that we do not overlook the contribution of a small group of talented women who have given their time and capabilities to the welding of this wonderful club.

I congratulate the members on their wisdom in planning this location, their persistence in its execution and the careful financial stewardship that has made it all possible.

Arthur Clarke (Honorary Life Member)