Heathmont Bowls Club ready to roll for Bowls Month
Bowls Month is back again this October, and for Heathmont Bowls Club this Bowls Victoria participation initiative represents another worthwhile opportunity to reach out to the local community and get more people excited about the great game of bowls. Bowls Month is back again this October, and for Heathmont Bowls Club this Bowls Victoria participation initiative represents another worthwhile opportunity to reach out to the local community and get more people excited about the great game of bowls.
Founded in 1958 and situated in a leafy outer suburb in the foothills of the Dandenong Ranges, Heathmont Bowls Club is an incorporated not-for-profit club which owns its own greens, clubhouse and surrounds.
Facilities, activities & competitions
Heathmont Bowls Club provides three greens: bent grass; tifdwarf grass; and sand-based synthetic. The club has approximately 165 bowling members (including 25 per cent female membership) and many more social members.
“We have a strong core value of gender equality, with men and women competing on an equal footing and being selected on merit to represent the club in pennant competitions,” explains Greg Pullen, Bowls Secretary at Heathmont Bowls Club.
A Bowls Month success story
Over the past decade Heathmont Bowls Club has participated in Bowls Month by running a ‘Try Bowls Day’ and following up with a barefoot bowls program over the summer months.
“The Try Bowls Day activities have definitely generated an increase in bowling memberships for the club,” says Greg.
“We promote Try Bowls Day by letter drops, flyers in shopping centres, community radio, billboards and more. In 2017 the weather was ordinary, yet we still attracted around 100 people (including many children) to the club for a fantastic day.
“Each time we run an event, we obtain contact details from attendees and follow up by email with promotions/invitations to barefoot bowls etc. Last year a number of people signed up as social members on the day and said they would use the club as their local now they knew how welcoming we were.”
Junior membership growth
As is the case for many bowls clubs, Heathmont Bowls Club faces an ongoing challenge to attract and maintain junior membership. “The key is to create a critical mass of their peers. Teenagers often feel more comfortable in the company of people their own age, rather than mixing with an older demographic which is the norm at bowls clubs,” Greg explains.
“Like most bowls clubs we have a somewhat aging membership demographic, but we are trying our best to attract a younger bowling cohort through various methods.”
Greg also points out that when it comes lawn bowls, ‘youth’ is a relative term. “We have identified 30-50-year-olds as a key target demographic. A challenge for us is that we are situated in a quiet residential area, which is a benefit in one sense, but we do not have a lot of passing traffic and many local residents have commented that they didn’t know we were here!” Greg says.
“However, a Try Bowls Day promotion gives us an opportunity to let those people know we are a community resource worth trying. In the last few years we have specifically targeted families and children with activities such as a jumping castle, face painting, free sausage sizzles and soft drinks, etc. Our expectation is that if the kids are having a good time, the mums and dads might have a go at bowls with their friends and neighbours as well.”
How to get involved
“Our message to other bowls clubs in Victoria would be to consider focusing on families with a Try Bowls Day. A number of us at Heathmont were initially sceptical about jumping castles and the like, but the emphasis on ‘family fun’ has definitely proved successful with both engaged children and relaxed parents,” Greg says.
“We believe a Try Bowls Day and follow-up barefoot bowls program has been a key driver in lifting our profile in the community and attracting new members.”
To register your club for Bowls Month, please click here.