Delight as dedication of husband and wife team scoops national award

PUBLISHED: 08:41 08 November 2017 | UPDATED: 08:44 08 November 2017

Rod and Sandra Smale of Potters Bar Bowls Club receive their award from former Arsenal man, Perry Groves.

Rod and Sandra Smale of Potters Bar Bowls Club receive their award from former Arsenal man, Perry Groves.

Archant

A husband and wife team from Potters Bar Bowls Club have been praised for their dedication after scooping a top gong at this year's Institute of Groundsmanship (IOG) industry awards.

Rod and Sandra Smale were presented with the IOG Bowling Greenkeeper/Team of the Year award by Arsenal legend Perry Groves, in front of a crowd of almost 700 at the event held at the National Motorcycle Museum in Birmingham.

With 52 women and 77 male members, Potters Bar Bowls Club’s green was originally laid in 1929 and was formerly regarded as a ‘roll up and play’ club.

However, in recent years the members became more interested in competitive play and were demanding a better playing surface.

Rod, 72, and 69-year-old Sandra took over maintenance of the six-rink green in 2014 after the committee gave them a simple remit: “the green is getting worse each year – can you improve it?”.

And working to a limited budget, the duo set about the task to huge success.

Aided now by two helpers who work to a rota established by Rod and Sandra, the green is now tended every day for a regular programme of mowing, dew brushing and rink marking.

Inheriting a green where most of the edges were broken and covered in moss, Sandra worked her way all round removing and re-seeding where necessary.

All the edges are now cut at the beginning of each season and trimmed each week with a modified domestic lawn edger that sees all the edges trimmed in just seven minutes.

Indeed, the club has consequently attained greater success at all levels of competition, achieving seven appearances during the past two years in the Bowls England National Championships – a feat previously not even dreamt of.

IOG chief executive Geoff Webb said: “With a record number of entries, this year’s awards continue to demonstrate the skills and passion of groundsmanship throughout the UK, at both voluntary and professional level.

“Winning an award is testament to the dedication of the grounds teams and individuals whose ability to produce and maintain ever-improving playing surfaces – which enables more games to take place - goes largely unnoticed.”

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