Bickford Smith Bowls Club in Camborne, Cornwall was founded in 1931, originally as the ICI Bowling Club but is now an important community resource, with three men's league teams and two ladies' teams,as well as friendly and inter-club matches and competitions. In 1978 the ladies, with the help of the men, organised the annual Bickford Smith ladies tournament, which still runs each year and is still a big success. The club also attracts all ages, with six regular playing members under the age of 30. The Club Chairman, Alan Odgers, is only 27.
Like many bowls clubs, greenkeeping duties and decisions are taken care of by the committee and playing members, including Michael Rodda who does all of the mowing and maintenance on the six rinks, with occasional help of others.
In 2009, Michael and Chairman Alan Odgers attended a local greenkeepers' day at Wadebridge Bowls Club, where Dennis were demonstrating their range of bowling green maintenance equipment. "We were looking to upgrade our machinery," explains Alan, "and we were particularly interested in purchasing a mower which could also accommodate turf maintenance cassettes, which would give us one machine to carry out a range of tasks."
Impressed by the performance of the Dennis FT610 on view, which has a 61cm (24in) cut and a range of 11 interchangeable cassettes including a choice of cutting reel, the club ordered its new machine from Devon Garden Machinery and it was delivered in May 2009.
Alan comments: "We were immediately taken with the ease of swapping cassettes, giving a versatile machine that could improve the quality of the turf as well as the cut. Rather than having to manoeuvre several heavy machines around, our greenkeeping needs could be met with just one."
The FT610 was supplied with a nine-blade cylinder, scarifier and sorrel roller and its finish is as good as having dedicated implements for each task, reckons Alan.
"It is the best quality of cut that we have achieved since taking over the care of the green," he comments. "We've just upgraded the scarifier to a tungsten-tipped verti-cutter this year to give a more intensive action."
In the playing season, mowing takes place three times a week and with the maintenance cassettes, the FT610 can be in use almost every day. The greens arealso scarified with the new verti-cutter every couple of weeks on average.
Alan comments that it is lasting very well, due to its high build quality and is comfortable and easy to use for greenkeepers who are caring for the green in their own time.
"It is very straightforward - we can do most of the maintenance including sharpening the blades ourselves," he says. "The FT610 has proved ideal for our needs; I would highly recommend it to other bowls greenkeepers."