Q & A with John Balzarolo

A day in the life of a lawn bowls greenskeeper.

The day of a greenskeeper starts during the early hours of the morning whilst most of us are still asleep. John Balzarolo our greenskeeper kindly took the time out of his busy schedule to share his story.

  1. THBC: When did you start at Tweed Heads Bowls Club?

I started with John Wyper as a contractor 11/1/16 until 24/11/17 then returned as an employee on 8/1/18

  1. THBC: What is your role at Tweed Heads Bowls Club?

Qualified Greenskeeper

  1. THBC: What does your average day at work look like?

Mow greens for play, prepare the greens for play, mark, rake, wipe boards and seats, set out mats. Maintain banks, lawns and hedges of club surrounds.

  1. THBC: How many kilometres do you walk on the green each week?

In the last 6 months I’ve averaged 11 km’s per day. In total I’ve walked 11,277 km (I track this on an app on my phone). 

  1. THBC: How often do you mow the greens?

In summer 6 times a week and twice per green

  1. THBC: You don’t only maintain the greens, you also maintain the club gardens and keep the Club surrounds tidy, can you please tell us more?

We do rubbish runs, edge, whipper snip, mow, blow leaves, hedges, weeding, spraying, planting in gardens

  1. THBC: Is there a difference to maintaining a bowls green compared to a football field or golf greens?

Yes, one of the main differences is the height of the cut, bowls greens are cut much lower. Football fields and golf greens are obviously much larger areas and they don’t rely on the state of the green as much as a bowls green does. Bowls greens are also flat in comparison, which is also important to the success of the bowls green. Compared to a golf green, the bowls green must be very firm and thatch free. If the bowls are to run true, the green should be level.

  1. THBC: What are the main challenges you are facing with the greens right now?

Keeping them maintained in less hours per week due to COVID-19

  1. THBC: what is your favourite tool in the shed?

Mower for the greens 

  1. THBC: I think everyone who is not into bowls is wondering about the “roller” could you please tell us more about the “roller”?

The Roller is used to flatten the surface to lay the grass leaf down to help pace. It is done daily before play.

  1. THBC: Greens need lots of water? How do you manage the water consumption?

We water once a week to conserve water when it is possible. If it is dry weather, we water more often.

  1. THBC: Who makes up your team here at the Club?

Colin is the Head Greenskeeper; Craig helps us in preparing greens and does machinery maintenance. Derrick Donkor helps on weekends. 

  1. THBC: Do you play bowls?

Yes, I’ve been playing since I was 26.

  1. THBC: How long is a lawn bowls green?

The whole size is 38 x 38 metres squared

  1. THBC: How many lawn greens do we have here at the club?

4 lawn greens and 1 indoor green

  1. THBC: Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Dimbulah, 100 km’s west of Cairns. We have a mango and sugar cane farm which my parents and brother still run. It was a Tobacco farm when I was growing up there until tobacco was decommissioned by the government in around 2003.

  1. THBC: Why did you move to the Gold Coast?

I moved here from Cairns in 2007 to spend more time with my son Mason, who was living in Brisbane at the time and was in school and to play bowls.

  1. THBC: What are your hobbies?

Yoga, spending time with my daughters who are 4 and 5.

I usually do yoga in a studio, but right now I do yoga everyday at home to help me with fitness, stress and to strengthen muscles and have a healthy lifestyle.

  1. THBC: What is your favourite meal from Tweed Heads Bowls Club?

Rump Steak with vegies and pepper sauce. The cakes are very good too!