Joy Johnson Memorial Classic Returns to Yarrawonga

by Kalon Huett (BV Contributor)

Following the success of last year’s inaugural Joy Johnson Memorial Classic, this very special event returns on 24-25 August 2019 at Yarrawonga Mulwala Golf Club Resort (YMGCR). 

With a number of high-profile players set to participate and an impressive $10,000 prize-purse once again up for grabs, the event promises to live up to its spectacular setting on the Murray River.

Local champion

While the competition on the greens will no doubt be fierce, the Joy Johnson Memorial Classic is so much more than another great weekend of bowls. It’s also a celebration of the late Joy Johnson’s deep connection to YMGCR, her contribution to bowls in the region and the affection with which she is held by everyone lucky enough to have known her. Joy was a state representative and multiple title winner, yet always remained humble about her achievements in the sport.

For fellow club member, teammate and close friend, Anne Miles, the event represents a wonderful opportunity to remember a local champion. 

This event of course means so much to me, but so many who come to the event come to remember Joy too,” says Anne. “She was an amazing bowler with so much grit and determination. She won numerous championships and state events – too many to mention! The year she passed she won every event possible in Ovens & Murray to take her to Championship week in Bendigo. She was so ill at the time but we still went and she performed each day in each event before having to finally stop and go to the hospital.”

Event history

Some years ago, Joy and Anne tried to get a high-profile women’s event up and running at YMGCR. Unfortunately, finding appropriate sponsorship proved a major stumbling block and the idea never came to fruition. 

“After Joy passed, her daughter and family stepped up to make it work. The family business, Lekeal Builders, became our major sponsor, and with their enthusiasm we had our inaugural tournament last year,” Anne explains. 

“A lot of hard work later we have created one of the best women’s tournaments around. Last year we attracted teams from WA, NSW and top bowlers from Melbourne metro as well as Victoria country. We tried to make it different from the general run of tournaments by having a fast format of Ladies 2 Bowl Triples, a festive environment, plenty of fun and of course big prize money!”

Last year’s tournament featured some big names including the pre-tournament favourites Carla Krizanic, Sam Shannahan and Elise Cowan, as well as Canadian champion Kelly McKerihen and the host club’s Laureen Smith. Eventually McKerihen, along with teammates Mary Tragardh and Barbara Vaughan, took out the first-ever Joy Johnson Memorial Classic and collected $4,500 winner’s prize. 

Promising future

“We are calling the 2019 Joy Johnson Memorial Classic our consolidation year, and then all being well we will be looking to make it even bigger from 2020 onwards,” Anne says. 

“I am most looking forward to seeing a lot of bowlers returning to play Joy’s event for the second time. It will be hard-fought, but so much fun as well. Joy deserves to be remembered, she was one of bowls’ genuine champions!”