Another crown green bowling season is over, and except for a few stalwarts using one or two winter greens, players will have to be content in the hope of playing next year in better conditions than those prevailing in 2012, which, from the standpoint of dry running greens, was a total washout.
Unfortunately there are other, more serious problems which threaten the well-being and future of this long established, skilful, fascinating and character building outdoor game, in which one has to become a devotee in order to become an accomplished player.
At a time when there are perhaps more young players competing than ever before, the game, due to social and economic conditions, with fewer players then ever before available to fill team places, the game is suffering tremendously.
After almost 100 years, many clubs are now unable to field Saturday and Wednesday teams, so reduced are the memberships of many; while even those who can, are experiencing similar problems. To confirm this decline, figures reveal that since World War Two, around 50 greens have been lost in Leeds and the surrounding district, and many others are in danger of closure due to the lack of funds brought about by the change in social habits, and the smoking ban which has hit the profits of pubs and clubs.
Another example is that the Leeds Parks’ Individual Merit of 1965 attracted 268 entries played on each of 16 greens down to one final qualifier, while that of 2012, few more than 30 played down to the winner on one green.
Unless methods are produced to stem this decline, things can only worsen, as in addition cash-strapped councils are unable to produce quality greens.
In addition crown green bowlers get their bowling on the cheap, and it seems that in the near future will have to contribute more in membership fees and time if the game is to survive. Perhaps clubs will have to use greens better throughout the winter in order to acquire much-needed revenue, and members will certainly need to devote more time and effort into working for their clubs.
More effort should also be made to attract new players to the game. If not, and new ideas are not suggested and tried by the various associations, this historic, most enjoyable and demanding game of skill and psychological techniques could fail to survive as we who have played the game for so many years have known it. And what a terrible shame that would be!
E Lundy, by email