Lighthouse Club – Heathcote BC

by Team BV

The Heathcote Bowling Club has opened its doors to the community over the past two years and has managed to turn the club around from a venue no one knew about, to a facility utilised by a wide range of the community including the Tourism Association who use it for meetings and barefoot bowlers who are enjoying regular competition.
Heathcote Bowling Club has seen an increase to its membership, financial reward which led to the replacement of its synthetic green without any government assistance, a great club culture and a sense of comradeship. 
The club has had a substantial increase in foot traffic with new people coming through the doors in a number of different ways – whether it be for a nice meal, a game of barefoot bowls or for one of the many charity days Heathcote BC has got involved with.
The increased numbers had all been to do with positive word of mouth around the community.
Functions have increased with the clubs catering getting the tick of the approval as a major factor for people being drawn back to the club regularly; all of which couldn’t be achieved without a major sponsor, the Heathcote District and Community Bank which through funding was able to upgrade the kitchen to a commercial standard.
This was evident the day Heathcote Bowls Club hosted the Great Victorian Bike Ride. The club opened its doors and visitors from all around the state came, ate and drank at the club and also enjoyed a friendly game of barefoot bowls.
Heathcote also held a MND charity day, a 24-hour bowls marathon that raised money for one of their club mates which totalled over $22,000. This wonderful charity day also resulted in eight new bowling members.
Club Secretary Peter Cunningham, whilst happy with how the club has progressed, is still confident the club can do things better.
Heathcote has begun running the Sporting Schools Program – an Australian Sports Commission initiative to introduce kids to bowls using Bowls Australia’s junior participation program, Jr. Jack Attack.
Despite no new membership yet to come from their involvement it is only early days and Peter can see potential with this program in terms of parents bringing their children to the clubs Tuesday nights for twilight bowls.
With just a couple of minor tweaks and people becoming more aware of the club, the Tuesday night bowls has also been a method of success over the last two years with the competition climbing from eight teams to 12 teams.
The success has been so great that participants want to continue the Tuesday night bowls despite coming into the cooler months; they are now planning to host a variant of the Tuesday format once a month during winter.
Peter says the next steps for the club are to develop their website and social media pages.
The website is up and running at the moment, but the club is working hard to provide better content for members and guests and update the website more regularly. They have also recognised that social media is the way forward and by creating a Facebook page they will no doubt attract more people to the club.
Heathcote Bowls Club has worked closely with Regional Bowls Manager Josh Thornton.
He has assisted with grant applications which have been successful in obtaining new uniforms and new club bowls and everything the club has tried has been with the support of their Regional Bowls Manager.
Josh has also assisted the club with updating its constitution, linking the club to schools in the area and being part of Sporting Schools Program.
This story emphasises what being a community hub is all about and encouraging any new people into the club by offering a wide range of services within your facility.
Heathcote Bowls Club is a worthy Lighthouse Club – making a conscious effort to run the club like a business and not just a bowling club.
It’s shown by embracing the whole community and finding different ways to attract new people through your doors, you can not only have financial rewards but will create a welcoming culture for members and guests.
Not everything you do is going to be a success, but unless you get out there and have a go and embrace change, you’ll never know what could have been.
To get in contact with your area’s Regional Bowls Manager click here.