Action from the bowling greens in the Summerland Pairs tournament at Cherry Street Sports Club, Ballina. Photo: Mitchell Craig
Action from the bowling greens in the Summerland Pairs tournament at Cherry Street Sports Club, Ballina. Photo: Mitchell Craig

Number of Aussies playing bowls reaches record high

PARTICIPATION in bowls reached a record level in 2019, reports Bowls Australia CEO Neil Dalrymple.

He said there now were 693,563 people playing the game, consisting of 202,273 at pennant and competition level, 468,120 playing regular social bowls, and 22,870 in Jack Attack programs that include schools.

A decrease in formal membership of bowls clubs had been offset by the growth in social participation.

The CEO said that during the year an agreement was finalised with the Queensland Government and the City of Gold Coast for the Australian Open to be held on the Gold Coast for a further five years until 2024 and for the national championships to be staged there from 2020-2023.

“The new Festival of Bowls will see a number of our national events staged consecutively at Broadbeach, commencing in October 2020,” Dalrymple said.

A “comprehensive review” of the National Merchandising Program had been started and despite steady returns was examining the requirement for any changes, was assessing how Bowls Australia enforces the merchandising policy, how it can create and implement an ethical sourcing policy, and how the merchandising licensees can get better value for their licence.

“Undoubtedly, 2020 will be a huge year for the sport, with our new national marketing campaign to be rolled out across television, radio, cinema and digital platforms, a new Bowls Premier League event at Moama, a World Bowls championship on the Gold Coast, another five-year period for the Australian Open on the Gold Coast and the launch of the new nationals event in October,” Dalrymple said.

My view on playing numbers

HOW many times have you heard people say the perceived declining numbers of bowlers on the greens indicates the game is doomed?

The latest official Bowls Australia figures show how wrong this is.

The national body’s CEO Neil Dalrymple said playing numbers were at a record level. But while there’s a surge in social play he reported a decline in formal membership of bowls clubs. This latter figure is disturbing since this is the statistic that enables clubs to keep their doors open.

What is heartening and a surprise to me is the number of bowlers playing pennants and championships – a whole 202,273 of them nationwide.

It has me revising my belief that the ancient fours format of pennants had run its day and bowlers were ready for a faster, more inclusive type of play.

While figures continue to show the number who still want pennants, this form of the game will continue.

Dare to dream

WHEN it comes to the Bowls Premier League Cup, Bowls Australia suggests that clubs throughout the country “dare to dream” as South Perth did in 2019.

The West Aussie club had three sides qualify for the big event, run in conjunction with the rich national Bowls Premier League played at Brisbane club Pine Rivers. Two of the clubs played against each other in the final, ensuring the Cup would go west.

That state’s CEO, Ken Pride, said he’d be telling everyone how amazing the week was. He predicted numbers to double in WA for the next Cup.

The BPL Cup provides an opportunity for the nation’s club-based teams to progress through regional and state qualifying rounds to win a place on the big stage.

Sides in the finals win flights to Brisbane, accommodation and various other worthwhile prizes, including corporate box seats for the televised BPL games.

2020 pennant finals venues

YAMBA and Maclean have been awarded the 2020 No 4 pennant finals in the venue list just released by Bowls NSW.

The top grade final goes to Forster.

Other venues are: No 2 Parkes and Parkes Railway, No 3 NBC Sports and Toongabbie, No 5 St Georges Basin and Nowra, No 6 Maitland City and Lorn Park, and No 7 Warilla and TBC.

The 2020-2022 state championships are to be hosted by Ettalong Memorial, while the 2020-2022 Rookie finals will be at Raymond Terrace.

Five-a-side, anyone?

BOWLS NSW’S five-a-side competition, an event that allows clubs to nominate five players to compete in singles, pairs, triples and fours, is now open for entries.

One marquee player to a side is allowed and clubs can apply to have a composite make-up.

There’s $30,000 prizemoney on offer.

Water usage survey

THE continuing drought has Bowls NSW asking clubs to have their greenkeeper complete a survey on water usage.

The survey has been compiled by the state’s water corporations and aims to collect much-needed data on current and future water requirements.

“The question is how to balance reasonable and appropriate watering needs for sports fields, golf courses and bowling greens against the pressing need to conserve water,” said a water industry spokesman.

Lucky break

EMMETT McLeod, of NBC Sports, is the NSW under-25 champion after an epic struggle in the final against Toby Peters (Dapto Citizens).

On the last end the scores were even and Peters appeared to have the advantage when his running shot moved the jack towards the ditch for a near-certain count of three.

But the jack bounced back up the green and rebounded off Peters’ bowls to give McLeod two shots and the title.

Volunteers save club

IN JUNE it looked like the end for Moore Park club near Bundaberg – the doors were closed and the liquidators moved in.

“Frantic negotiations were going on with creditors, the liquidators, the council and many others to see what could be salvaged and whether we could somehow carry on,” said club chairman Lindsay Browne.

Bowls at the club was kept going, with the toilets the only part of the buildings the players could access.

Then in July a team of hardworking volunteers was formed and things turned around.

The club was reopened recently.

“We’re getting used to running the club without paid staff,” Browne said.