Scottish contractor Fairways Sportsgrounds’ four year contract to reconstruct the lawn bowling greens at Kelvingrove for the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games has entered its final phase.
Working on behalf of Glasgow Life, the leisure wing of Glasgow City Council the fine turf project at just under £1m has been one of the largest fine turf projects by a local authority north of the border in recent years.
Ten separate lawn bowls medal events are scheduled from July 24 to August 1 which include two for bowlers who are visually impaired or have a physical disability.
Fairways Sportsgrounds were tasked with redeveloping five of the six existing municipal bowling greens at the site which is adjacent to the iconic Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum which receives over a million tourist visitors a year and is the most popular museum in the UK outside London.
Work included new drainage, green ditches and installation of a new irrigation system as well as the upgrading of the footpath network within the site to ensure compliance with the Disability Discrimination Act.
Dave Gibson, Fairways Sportsgrounds’ Contracts Director said: “When we came on board in 2010 the turf contract for the Kelvingrove project had been awarded previously and had been in progress for several months grown on a site in Yorkshire.
“Turfing took place in the height of summer 2011. Logistically our team had 24 hours from when the turf was cut to having it in place. It left the turf farm early evening and then travelled 200 miles or so by road overnight for an early start the next morning.
“Naturally it happened on one of the hottest days of summer so the irrigation system was used continuously during the installation and the weeks that followed. Everything subsequently went pretty much to plan.
“Everyone wants to know how we’ve coped with all the rain in the past nine months. One good thing about it is that we know our drainage is tip top. Whatever amount falls and whatever amount lies on the surface, once the rain ceases the drainage on the new greens clears all residual water in roughly 15 minutes. We’ve been monitoring this closely and it is true every time.”
Under the terms of the contract Fairways Sportsgrounds has employed a full time greenkeeper to look after the greens which up until the start of July have remained open to members of the public. Craig Collins (28) who served his apprenticeship at Whitecraigs GC in East Renfrewshire has taken on the role.
In the remaining days until competition begins he will be joined by another four colleagues to help keep the surface cut to approximately 3-4 mm in height at the request of the organising committee.
“Our HQ is approximately five miles away at Glasgow Airport,“ continued Dave Gibson. “It’s also home to our sister companies, Wiedenmann UK and Fairways GM, dealer for Ransomes Jacobsen in Scotland so we’ve had access to demo machines and the benefit of training from their very experienced teams.
“We’ve got additional Jacobsen PGM 22 mowers in place and plenty of spares so we’re just about ready for the off. It just comes down to the weather. During July 2013 we had one of our longest spells of unbroken hot weather and while if repeated that would be wonderful, I’m hoping we actually do get a little rain at some point.
“But it’s Scotland so we’re prepared for all eventualities – nine days of rain, nine days of sunshine and everything in between!”
Tiered seating to accommodate 2500 spectators was erected in June immediately transforming the arena into a sporting spectacle. A limited number of tickets from £15 for the early rounds of competition are still available but tickets to all the main finals were sold out very quickly.