Vet­eran bowler de­cides to wind down at 92

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pro­ceed­ings un­der way. He ac­com­pa­nied her to this event and was im­me­di­ately at­tracted to the game. It suited him better as play started later than golf and he was able to get to “tabs in” in good time. He was im­me­di­ately hooked on the game and has never looked back. It was the start of an il­lus­tri­ous bowls ca­reer. While study­ing medicine at Wit­wa­ter­srand Univer­sity, Louw also took a course in sports turf, which was con­sid­ered to be a mi­nor part in his de­gree. But it was then that his in­ter­est in grasses and his love for green-keep­ing started. After mov­ing to Ade­laide he took up golf and im­me­di­ately took over look­ing after their greens. When he de­cided to take up bowls, it was nat­u­ral for him to care of their green. And he has been heav­ily in­volved ever since, not only at the clubs where he played, but through­out South Africa. Many clubs through­out the coun­try have ben­e­fit­ted from his vast knowl­edge.

In 1983, Louw sold his prac­tice in Ade­laide and moved to Port Al­fred. It did not take him long to make his mark in the green-keep­ing world. Two years later he was ap­pointed to the SA Bowls Green Keep­ers’ Board and be­came chair­man in 1988, a po­si­tion he held for 20 years.

Dur­ing this time, he trav­elled ex­ten­sively, vis­it­ing bowls clubs through­out the coun­try to in­spect greens and also to con­duct sem­i­nars. Many clubs ben­e­fit­ted from his wide ex­pe­ri­ence.

It was not un­usual for him to visit more than 100 clubs in a year. On a 10-day trip to Cape Town, he once in­spected 123 greens in the sur­round­ing area. In 1995, Louw trav­elled to Aus­tralia to in­crease his knowl­edge and spent six weeks study­ing green-keep­ing fur­ther with the Australian Turf Re­search In­sti­tute. “I got to know the Aussies well and was for­tu­nate enough to be made an hon­orary mem­ber of the In­sti­tute,” he said. He still re­mains in con­tact with them.

Louw had gained enor­mous ex­pe­ri­ence through­out the years and wanted to share his knowl­edge with others. It was thus that he wrote his first book, This was fol­lowed by an­other book,

Then came a ma­jor un­der­tak­ing when he wrote his last ref­er­ence book,

This took eight years to com­plete, but was re­ward­ing in that it sold through­out the coun­try and as far afield as the United States.

Louw has been well- recog­nised for his huge con­tri­bu­tion to bowls in South Africa. He has been made an hon­orary life mem­ber of both the Ade­laide and Kowie bowls clubs as well as the Eastern Ar­eas mini district. He is also an hon­orary vice-pres­i­dent of EP Bowls, but his proud­est mo­ment was when he was made an hon­orary life mem­ber of SA Bowls.

“This was a proud mo­ment for me as I am the only per­son to have re­ceived this award who has not served on the ac­tual ex­ec­u­tive,” Louw added. And he has the blazer to prove it, which now hangs in the Kowie Bowls Club’s club­house.

It was not only at green-keep­ing that Louw was suc­cess­ful. He was also a very keen par­tic­i­pant and won many tour­na­ments in his 57 years of play­ing. But his proud­est mo­ment on the play­ing scene was when he skipped the Kowie team that won the EP trips in 1991.

He was one of the old­est play­ing bowlers in the coun­try and was reg­u­larly seen in ac­tion at 91 un­til ill- health forced him to re­tire about a year ago.

With the Kowie Bowls Club’s AGM com­ing up shortly, Louw has de­cided not to seek re-elec­tion. “It is time for the younger mem­bers to take over,” he con­cluded. But he will not be lost to the club and bowls gen­er­ally as he has agreed to make him­self avail­able in an ad­vi­sory ca­pac­ity and will con­tinue to do the draw for “tabs in” games.

Pic­ture: BOB FORD

A LIFE IN BOWLS: Kowie Bowl­ing Club green keeper Charles ‘Doc’ Louw with the hon­orary life mem­ber­ship award he re­ceived from Bowls SA in 2010

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