Bowls NZ faces crisis as greens deteriorate during lockdown

Bowls NZ face losing millions if greenkeepers can't attend to the greens soon.
Bowls NZ face losing millions if greenkeepers can't attend to the greens soon. Photo credit: Photosport

Bowls NZ has made a desperate plea to the government to allow clubs to maintain bowling greens during the lockdown or face damage worth millions of dollars.

As the country reaches the halfway point of the coronavirus lockdown, bowling greens haven't been tended in the last 15 days, allowing fungal diseases to build up on playing surfaces. 

Bowling greens are made of weeds and require round-the-clock maintenance, involving regular mowing and spraying.

They haven't maintained for so long, Bowls NZ chief executive Mark Cameron fears they are reaching a critical point, with repair costs estimated between $5000 and $50,000, depending on how bad the diseases are. 

Cameron has asked the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment and Minister of Sport Grant Robertson for special dispensation to allow greenkeepers to work alone, once a week, to spray and mow the green.

Bowls New Zealand chief executive Mark Cameron.
Bowls New Zealand chief executive Mark Cameron. Photo credit: Photosport

Cameron understands that bowls is a "leisure activity" and not an essential service, but getting dispensation would save Bowls NZ loads of money. 

"If a disease hits our green, we're up for between $5-50,000 in costs and if you times that by 500 clubs, then that's millions," Cameron told Newshub. 

"We're in a similar boat to golf clubs right now, where our greenkeepers need to be on the greens, primarily to spray for disease.

"It'll be a big issue for the sport if we don't get on top of this."

Cameron says he filed his case with the Government some time ago, but hasn't heard back. 

"If we can't do it in the next few days, we're going to have to find lots of money to run them up again. 

"We've made a plea to the Minister and MBIE for an exemption, but we understand that a greenkeeper isn't an essential service.

"At the same time, we're making people aware that having one greenkeeper into one club to do a mow, spray and seed collection each week, that would save us millions."