Submitted by Bill Hiscock
I am writing because I believe that some of the people who want to keep the Canary Pines at the Coronado Bowling Club honestly believe that natural grass would be a viable solution. It would not and I want to tell you why it would not.
I have been and am a member of the San Diego Lawn Bowling Club (SDLBC hereinafter) for over 50 years. I was the President in 1982. I was thoroughly familiar with and involved in supervising the care and maintenance of the two natural grass greens of SDLBC throughout many years until the present Coronado Lawn Bowling Green (LBG) was constructed in 2009. While I am no longer actively involved in decisions as to the care and maintenance at San Diego, I remain a member of that Club.
At the time the City decided to install a World Class Artificial Green in Coronado, among the compelling reasons for doing so was the proven inability of the City to maintain its natural grass green in a reasonable condition for bowling. The natural green had been allowed to deteriorate to such a deplorable condition that only a few older bowlers without the ability to travel to San Diego bowled there. I know because I came to Coronado in 1972 and joined the Coronado Club but bowled in Coronado only twice in 32 years because of its substandard condition. The City recognized this fact and decided after much study and research supervised by Recreation Director Linda Rahn that an artificial Green was the answer.
Natural grass is not a solution for Coronado’s problem of the Canary Pines on D Avenue for the following reasons:
1. Successful natural grass greens always consist of two Greens. Each natural grass green is closed for at least a month a year for intensive remedial measures such as plugging, sanding, leveling, weed abatement, increasing height of backboards etc. By having two greens, bowling can continue during the month one green is closed. About every 10 to 20 years, a natural grass green must be entirely rebuilt starting with new soil, new seed, mist sprayers etc. being out of commission for as much as 3-6 months. The second green permits continued bowling during this time. For your information because of the foregoing problems, the following natural grass bowling clubs all have two grass greens: San Diego, Laguna Beach, Newport Harbor, Long Beach, Riverside, Pasadena and Santa Anita. Former single grass greens which have converted to artificial because of these problems are: Santa Maria, Santa Cruz, San Jose, Cambria and Coronado. The Laguna Hills club with two grass greens has also gone artificial and Santa Barbara is in the process of doing so. Coronado does not have room for two grass greens and it would not be the best solution even if the City was willing to spend about $2 million for two greens, a club house, equipment, storage room and parking. Let’s keep what works.
2. Natural grass requires almost daily attention by an experienced “Greens keeper” who is specially trained and needed almost full time. Golf and Public service employees may try but they don’t have the specialized know how or equipment to do the job well. The work and maintenance may appear to be the same, but is different and more demanding from that required on a golf course or by public lawns, parks and parkways. In addition, a Green must be kept level i.e. flat, with consistent texture throughout requiring verticutting, plugging, sanding and treatment to prevent noxious weeds such as Poa Annua. It must be double mowed diagonally on average of once each week and before every tournament. Although different, greens are more nearly like putting greens than ordinary grass.
3. Water conservation is an important environmental consideration to all of us. Natural grass greens require much, much more water than an artificial green.
4. When a natural grass green is subject to heavy rain it becomes unplayable for a day or more. The grass surface is soggy and subject to damage if played on. An artificial green like Coronado is playable within an hour even if there is four inches of rain.
5. Canary Pines’ roots will invade a natural grass green causing as much or more damage as to an artificial green. Roots destroy both. Cities that have either a natural grass green or an artificial green recognize that tree roots do the same kind of damage to greens as they do to buildings, sidewalks, streets, sewer lines, foundations and other forms of infrastructure. Laguna Woods just removed three or four Canary Pines to protect their new artificial greens.
6. The use of the Coronado Green by bowlers, visitors, for tournaments and civic matters such as charity competitions including between the Rotary and Optimists is so intense, that natural grass cannot handle it. See the statement by Roger Miller, former Recreation Director at Council Meeting on February 16, 2021 to that effect.
I wrote this letter because I believe that some of the people who want to keep the Canary Pines at the Coronado Bowling Green honestly believe that natural grass would be a viable solution. It would not and I hope you now realize that. The natural grass in your yard and its care is not like bowling green grass. Thanks for reading this.