The Best Bowling Green in
the Northern Hemisphere???
On beautiful sunny October day in 2008 Senhor Antonio Almeida Pires, General Manager of Pedras da Rainha Nature, Sports & Beach Resort complex in Cabanas, Eastern Algarve, Portugal was looking at 2 empty tennis courts and thought to himself “ what a waste”. He had recently been reading about the growth of lawn bowls on the Algarve and decided to have a look at one or two of the bowling greens in the area. At this stage he had absolutely no idea what a bowling green looked like and had never clapped eyes on a set of woods. Through an English friend who played bowls, he made arrangements to visit a green at the same time as a touring team was visiting. Despite not knowing the first thing about bowls he saw the potential immediately. On approximately the same area as two tennis courts which could accommodate 8 players at most, he witnessed 6 rinks and 48 people all enjoying a game of bowls. He decided then and there to build a bowling green.
Senhor Pires was no stranger to this type of project, he had built nearby Benamor Golf Course which was the first golf course in Eastern Algarve. So he set about the task of building a bowling green. He looked on the internet and took advice about the construction and the bulldozers moved in later that very same month. He knew he needed the perfect mixture of sand, soil and selective grass seed not only to withstand the vey hot summers but also have a drainage system able to cope with the very heavy downpours that occasionally occur on The Algarve. He did not have the luxury of sloping greens, like on the golf course that would allow excess water to run away, so the drainage was very important. The green was laid and seeded and by March 2009 all the groundwork had been done. All the banking and surrounding areas were in place, The ditches were filled with recycled car tyres, chopped to pea sized chunks to protect the bowls. Rink lane markings and numbers were put in place and scoreboards were brought over from the UK. Bowl pushers were cleverly made by Heath Robinson from plumbers plastic piping, which also roll the green as you push the bowls.
Owing to the excellent growing conditions, by the beginning of April the grass had grown sufficiently for the green to have its first cut and the first bowl was bowled in May. Throughout that summer the green was continually cut, watered and nurtured and very seldom played on giving the grass every opportunity to grow. During these months word spread among the local ex-pat community about this new green and with discounted membership fees, it didn’t take long before Pedras da Rainha Lawn Bowling club was formed.
The bowls club went from strength to strength with over 80 members in just over 2 years. The green itself has developed into, arguably the best bowling green in the northern hemisphere. If you take into consideration it is available for play 365 days a year (except for essential maintenance) and no matter when you come to play you will find it in impeccable condition. So much so, when touring teams come, the first thing they do is bend down to touch the grass to see if it is real.
On a recent visit by Bowls England, Joan Balding the then Bowls England President simply described the green as “unbelievable”. Senhor Pires is confident that The Algarve will become synonymous with bowls as it is with golf and Pedras da Rainha Nature, Sports & Beach Resort Complex will be at the forefront of the bowling revolution.
Daniel assessing the bowling green before opening day.
Daniel asking “What are the rules in this game, John?