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Getting it Right

The move to Leamington – what are we looking for in a centre of excellence?

Of course, there are a number of other factors apart from the green to consider when looking at Leamington Spa, the new ‘centre of excellence’ for outdoor bowls in England. It is important that the players and the spectators get the most out of the experience.

Below is a list of the things both spectators and players alike would need and expect from a centre of excellence, apart from the requirements of the playing surface:

The spectators…

  • Catering facilities to cope with expected numbers of both players and spectators.
  • Good viewing capacity for spectators around the green.
  • Good hotel and bed and breakfast accommodation at reasonable prices.
  • Ample car parking facilities.

The players…

  • Indoor playing facilities if possible for practice in case of inclement weather.
  • A completely fair allocation of rinks in accordance with the club rules to prevent any personalising of particular rinks or greens.
  • Rules to be drawn up regarding rink and green allocation.

Of course, the quality of the green is of fundamental importance and should be prioritised. There should be international standard bowling greens in tip top condition for competition and practice facilities with first class workshops on bowling green maintenance equipment.

It is imperative in a centre of excellence that the greens are properly constructed and that there is follow-up maintenance to provide maximum use of the greens at all times.

There are dos and don’ts that players should adhere to, ensuring that the quality of the surface is not in any way damaged. It is imperative that the bowler respects the green at all times.

  • Be respectful during play i.e. no running, jumping up and down on the ends or knocking divots into the surface by bad or poor delivery. (It is the umpire’s responsibility to enforce these rules).
  • Avoid dropping the woods from the bowls bag onto the rink ends.
  • Avoid bowling woods across the green over to the rink ends that will be used for the match.
  • Bowling green etiquette to be observed at all times by both gentlemen and lady competitors.

There are many reasons why Bowls England has decided to move the men’s championships from Worthing to Leamington. Although Worthing had any positives, there were other factors to take into account:

Positives of Worthing…

  • There is accommodation – both hotel and B&B.
  • Bowls England HQ is on site for administration.
  • Hospital in close vicinity.
  • Greens in reasonable condition.
  • Good seaside venue with fresh air and pleasant parks and good shopping all within easy walking distance.
  • Good flat walking surroundings but insufficient spectator viewing areas.

Problems with Worthing…

  • Limited car parking – insufficient for requirements.
  • Inadequate catering facilities.
  • Inadequate changing and toilet facilities.
  • Hotels increase prices.
  • A long distance for those travelling from the north.

The move to Leamington should make the centre of excellence something to be proud of and help generations of bowlers. Parking is not an issue at Leamington and the facilities should be exceptional. However, from a greenkeepers’ perspective, the most important thing is that the surface runs true and is well-maintained and looked after.