WHEN the Australian Over-60s Sides and Champion of Champion tournaments roll into town over the next two weeks, plenty of attention will be paid to the many State and National champions taking to the Queanbeyan Bowling Club greens.
But as more than 200 bowlers from around the country descend on Queanbeyan this month, spare a thought for the three-man team behind the scenes, without whom none of it would be possible.
Head greenkeeper Wade Turner, assistant Danny Hull and apprentice Tom Griffin have been tasked with ensuring the club’s five greens are in top-notch condition when the sport’s national spotlight shines on Queanbeyan.
“There’s a lot more that goes into it than I’m sure most people realise,” Turner explained to The Queanbeyan Age in the lead-up the next week’s Over-60s Sides Championships. “It’s not a matter of the bowlers just turning up and playing on the greens, our preparation [for the two upcoming tournaments] probably started about 12 months ago.”
All three of the club’s greenkeepers are employed full-time with the trio responsible for the upkeep of one of the few five-green clubs in Australia.
“The greens are generally cut and rolled six days out of seven,” Turner said. “You’ve also got fertilising and pest and disease control to monitor.
“Leading into a tournament you’ve got to be careful with your fertilising program. You’re trying to maintain a health grass cover but at the same time you don’t want a flush of grass so you’re also trying to minimise the amount of clippings that need to come off.”
It’s a role that’s part art and part science and one Turner is better experienced than most to manage. Turner began his greenkeeper’s apprenticeship with West Deakin in 1976 and over the past 36 years has come to be regarded as one of the very best in the business.
Turner was the inaugural winner of the NSW Bowling Greenkeepers Association greenkeeper of the year award in 2002 and currently serves as president of the association.
But in all Turner’s time working the greens, never before has he been required to prepare for two Australian Championships in the space of 14 days; a rare honour for any club.
“There is a little bit of pride there, it’s a great satisfaction to be able to stand back and see your greens perform well,” Turner said. “At the same time, I’m only as good as my staff. If I haven’t got trust in them that they’re doing the right thing, then there’s no way it can all come together.”
The Australian Over-60s Sides championships will take place at the Queanbeyan Bowling Club, Campbell Street from October 16-19. The Australian Champion of Champions tournament will kick off on October 26.