Club seeks greenkeeper

Winton RSA and Citizens Bowling Club committee member Chub McHugh (left) and former greenkeeper and club member Owen McGillivray on the club's bowling greens.

WITH almost 40 bowling clubs scattered throughout Southland, it is not surprising some clubs are having trouble recruiting greenkeepers to ensure greens are kept in pristine condition.

Many a day was spent at various greens, with much banter from club members and those competing against each other.

But, all the fun of the game could not be achieved without the hard and constant work of the greenkeeper.

To ensure players continued to enjoy the game, a greenkeeper was needed for the Winton RSA and Citizens Bowling Club.

Committee member Chub McHugh said the club had been “fortunate” throughout the years many of its greenkeepers had previously worked on the land, farmers who had up-to-date knowledge of “chemicals and turf culture” and how to keep a green disease-free.

“But people were retiring at a later age”, which had a flow-on effect, and greenkeepers needed to know the regulations and how to look after a green.

However, people should not be put off, as training would be offered, he said.

Mr McHugh acknowledged the many former greenkeepers who had volunteered many hours throughout the club’s 111-year-old history.

“In the past, we have been fortunate the greenkeepers had come from within the club.

“Often they had taken up bowling, then shown an interest in the greens, come forward, and been trained by a former greenkeeper.”

For seven years, club member and former greenkeeper Owen McGillivray had regularly worked on the green, from 10 to 15 hours a week, depending on the time of year or cycle of the bowling season, and how many tournaments, practise sessions or games were pencilled in.

Now aged 83, it was time for someone else to enjoy the job.

Mr McGillivray, who had played bowls for the past 10 years, had enjoyed his time as greenkeeper, meeting many people and learning new skills, he said.

“There is a Greenkeepers’ Association in Southland, which is part of the national association.

“Every three months we would tour around Southland in a bus, visiting clubs.

“We got to learn a lot, meet people, and discuss and share about the grounds.”

Although the position had been “advertised a bit internally for at least two seasons”, there had not been any volunteers at this stage, Mr McHugh said.

Past president Peter Hogg had “stepped in” last season to help out, but could no longer continue in the role.

“All the rural clubs in Southland are in the same situation,” Mr McHugh said, in regards to a lack of greenkeepers.

However, there may well be an answer for the various clubs, with the suggestion of “job-sharing the role with neighbouring clubs”.

It was an idea which had been mooted, and was well worth considering, he said.

“Maybe a couple of clubs which were close together could organise to use one greenkeeper.”

Nearby, Limehills Bowling Club president Trevor Keen was appreciative his club had a greenkeeper who came on board last year, and was also fortunate another club member was able to “help out” when the greenkeeper was not available.

However, he also acknowledged not all clubs were in that position.

“We do know we are lucky and things can change.”

  • To find out more about the Winton RSA and Citizens Bowling Club greenkeeper role, phone club secretary Joyce Wilson on 03 236 7939.

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