World Bowls 2004
By Laurence Gale MSc
This year Scotland plays host to the World Bowling Championship, which is to be held at Northfield National Centre for Bowling in Ayr from July 23 until August 7. The last time the Championship was hosted in Scotland was in 1986 in Aberdeen.
This year's Championship will involve 24 countries, with all four home nations taking part (Scotland, Wales, England and Ireland) and reigning holders of the Leonard Trophy, Australia. Events will be staged in a number of categories - singles, pairs, triples, fours and the overall team competition.
Pitchcare will be sharing Hugh's experiences in the coming weeks leading up to, during and after the Championship. A series of articles will cover the development of Northfield, its role in providing a National Centre for outdoor bowls in Scotland and details of the preparation, maintenance and aftercare of the greens for this prestigious event.
Northfield National Centre for Bowling is owned and managed by South Ayrshire Council. The complex has seen some major refurbishments in the last year due to a combination of funding opportunities sought by the Council.
In excess of £700,000 has been raised and spent on the facility in recent years. The funding came from three sources, South Ayrshire Council £250,000, the Scottish Bowling Association £150,000 and sportscotland £300,000. The opportunity for Northfield to stage this Championship is due to the vision and hard work of both the Scottish Bowling Association and South Ayrshire Council in partnership. In 1998 Peter Linton, then Head of Parks and Environment, represented the Council at the Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, where bowl's governing bodies were persuaded that Northfield had the potential to host the World Championship.
Wendy MacKenzie is currently the acting senior officer for the Council's Golf and Fine Turf Service, who are responsible for the management and maintenance of Northfield National Centre for Bowling and the eight Golf South Ayrshire courses.
Wendy has been influential in the success of Northfield, chairing meetings to ensure the smooth running and development of the facility. The Council is keen to utilise this new facility to its maximum. Northfield will be known as the National Centre for Bowling in Scotland and will be a key facility in the development of the country's future bowlers.
The funding has enabled South Ayrshire Council to fulfill many goals:
Provision of a new purpose built bowls pavilion
Provision of artificial green surrounds
Installation of a fully automated irrigation system
Provision of permanent seating around the greens (2000 seat capacity)
Purchase of new maintenance machinery
The new pavilion will certainly be put to the test during the Championships with over 24 international teams using the facility.
Northfield is also the home for a number of bowling clubs, Northfield Bowling Club, Newton Park Bowling Club, Ex-Services Bowling Club, Ayr Blind Bowling Club and the bowls section of the local Opportunities In Retirement group. Each club is responsible for its own management, but each member has to pay a season's green fee to the Council to play the greens. The outdoor bowling season generally starts mid-April and extends until mid-September with play starting each day at 10 am and closing at around 9 pm (dusk). The five greens have to accommodate many games during the season, catering for club players, visitors and the many competitions organised throughout the year.
His dedication and attention to detail is very apparent when you see the quality of the greens at Northfield.