Wednesday does wonders for membership at Beaumaris Bowls
By Graeme Johnstone
Out on the green, the buzz reverberating through the evening air shows the ten teams love the fast-paced round-robin games of triples over five ends.
The barbecue is sizzling, Spotify is pumping, the drinks are flowing, people are cracking gags that vary from side-splitting to outright lame, and if all else fails, there is always the chance of winning the raffle.
Serve that up every Wednesday night over five weeks, and what have you got?
Fifteen new members.
That’s the great result from Wednesday Wonders, one of several initiatives established by Beaumaris Bowls Club to tackle the biggest issue facing all bowls clubs – boosting membership.
“Through this and other new programs our numbers have increased by ten per cent in the past twelve months,” says Beaumaris chairman, Mike Harper. “That is an excellent result in these challenging times.”
The Wonders was set up by Beaumaris businessman Nick Hawkins at the suggestion of Graeme Rodgers, one of the club’s leading players, and supported by other dedicated volunteers.
“It was simply a matter of getting on the phone and ringing around,” Nick says. “A lot of these people like playing bowls, but they are pretty busy, so they just need someone to organise it. Once you set things up, tell them to wear something funny and bring a joke, they will turn up and get right into it.”
Nick, who is in the building industry, organised a mixed group of players ranging in age from 40 to 55, with a couple of twenty-somethings thrown in. They come from professions including construction, finance, teaching and real estate, and are all local community members.
“Bowls clubs have to create opportunities to appeal to the all-important younger demographic,” says Nick, who is planning to run Wednesday Wonders again in November and the following February.
This neatly coincides with the club’s regular running of Friday Evening Barefoot Bowls in those same months, a program that has also gone from strength to strength over the last five years. This is promoted each year by up to 30 members distributing flyers throughout the areas surrounding the club.
Another tie-in was to launch the industry initiative, Try Bowls, which was held on Friday evenings in October, and proved to be a good ‘curtain raiser’ to the Barefoot Bowls in November.
The club’s Melbourne Cup Day Super Pairs Tournament, featuring players of the calibre of former Australian number one and Commonwealth Games medallist Barrie Lester, was expanded into a Spring Carnival and included another competition on Oaks Day. As an indication of how the profile of bowls is changing, the winners of the Cup Day Super Pairs were aged just seventeen and twenty-one!
The fast-paced Beaumaris Practice League – featuring two games of three bowls pairs, with each game two sets of five ends – was successfully launched in 2018 and will run mid week in the spring of 2019.
As well, a new winter tournament made its debut in June. How could you go past a contest titled The John Bradley Champagne Mixed Triples Perpetual Trophy? The silver bucket is to die for.
“Since our formation sixty years ago, we have created quite an institution, with excellent greens, a fantastic clubhouse, and great bar, barbecue, kitchen and garden facilities,” Mr Harper said.
“The stories and information in our very regular members’ newsletter continue to emphasise the busy, vibrant nature of the club.
“It’s through the energy and vision of many people who want the club to continue being successful with a friendly and enjoyable atmosphere, that we see our way to consolidating our future by bringing in younger members. They will add to the ambience and vitality of the club.”
There was a final bonus.
“At least four of the fifteen new members that came out of Wednesday Wonders are now scheduled to play in one of our ten Pennant teams next season,” added Mr Harper with a smile. “We welcome them.”