Clubs in Focus: Highton Bowls Club

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Situated close to the Barwon River in southwest Geelong, Highton Bowls Club has offered locals the chance to enjoy quality greens for almost six decades. Situated close to the Barwon River in southwest Geelong, Highton Bowls Club has offered locals the chance to enjoy quality greens for almost six decades. Now supported by approximately 500 members – around 350 bowlers and 150 social members – the club has made a concerted effort in recent times to lift both its social game and competitive standing.
 
“In the past this was primarily a bowling club, but now we’ve really opened our doors as a social outlet for Highton and Belmont, which is quite a large and developing residential area,” says Greg Cracknell, Men’s President at Highton Bowls Club.
 
“Our focus is on letting people know we exist and encouraging them to come along and be a part of our club as a social member first, then hopefully at some stage making the transition to a Pennant bowler.”
 
Club history
The history of the club dates back to 13 September 1958, when a meeting of the Highton Progress Association resolved to establish a bowling club in the picturesque suburb. Three years later, Highton Bowls Club had its official opening on 30 September 1961, with the first clubhouse opening the following year. The current clubhouse was opened in September 1991.
 
Activities
Highton Bowls Club hosts regular men’s, ladies’ and mixed social matches, as well as plenty of action away from the greens, such as Friday Night Bistro and other social events at the clubhouse and bar.
 
“We would like to inject a bit more youth into the club and grow our overall bowler numbers, so we’re strongly promoting our social bowls activities like Crackerjack and Barefoot Bowls,” Cracknell says. “We also do 60-80 counter meals on average at the bistro each Friday evening.”
 
Competitions
Members can join Club Championship events or take part in Midweek (Tuesday) and Weekend (Saturday) Pennants in the Geelong Bowls Region competition.
 
Last year Highton Bowls Club achieved the remarkable feat of all seven Pennant teams playing in the finals, with the Division 1 Pennant team winning the premiership and moving up to the Premier League (the top grade for Geelong and Ballarat combined).
 
“That’s something we’ve been striving for over the last few years, so we’re very happy to be back at the top level of local bowls,” Cracknell says.
 
Facilities
Highton Bowls Club has three outdoor greens comprising two grass greens and one synthetic green. The synthetic surfaced green, known as the ‘Founder’s Green’, is located in front of the clubhouse and features lighting to allow play in all seasons, both day and night.
 
Beneath the clubhouse is a four-rink carpeted green used throughout the year for coaching and practice. It can even be heated for regular matches during winter.
 
The large clubhouse or function room can seat more than 160 members, players or guests, while the commercial-grade kitchen is used by members or the club’s in-house caterer for club event meals.
 
How to get involved
“The friendships and the feeling around the club lately has been amazing,” Cracknell says. “Having some Pennant success has certainly helped, and last year we introduced a popular post-game wrap event. At the start these events attracted around 30-40 per cent of players, but by the end of the year around 80-90 per cent of players were attending, which was a really positive result.”
 
Cracknell’s message to local non-members is a simple one: “Come through the gate and see what we’ve got to offer.” 

Kalon Huett, Bowls Victoria Contributor

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