Newspaper article Sunshine Coast Daily (Maroochydore, Australia)

Our Bowls Clubs Put out to Grass the Battle to Keep Coast's Clubs Alive; Summary of Bowls Club Memberships until 31 December, 2010

Newspaper article Sunshine Coast Daily (Maroochydore, Australia)

Our Bowls Clubs Put out to Grass the Battle to Keep Coast's Clubs Alive; Summary of Bowls Club Memberships until 31 December, 2010

Article excerpt

OVERSIZED red perspex lampshades dangle, like fruit about to fall from a tree, fringing a ceiling carved in waves that glow a soft green.

To the left is a shiny new servery. Straight ahead are rows of shiny new tables and chairs, some of which have been commandeered by about a dozen women, who look to be in their 60s, for what appears to be a small meeting.

Beyond them, windows offer views to two greens that, although quiet this mid-Monday morning, are the obvious sign this is a bowls club.

The only other clue is a framed collection of bowls club badges hung near some toilets, around the corner from the bar and a room full of the dull hum of gaming machines waiting to be played.

The green glow overhead has turned blue and a Powderfinger song is playing as I leave. Since when did lawn bowlers listen to Oz rock?

The renovated interior of Club Kawana, as the Kawana Bowls Club is now known, looks much like a small suburban pub.

The new look seems to have met with public approval.

In the four or five days up to last Wednesday 108 new members joined and 107 of them were social members, who pay a minimal fee to enter and socialise but do not play.

One is a new bowler.

The renovation has involved some radical changes, including the sacrifice of a third green for more car parking to accommodate the suburban socialites who spend money at the club.

Club president Barry Wolgast said the plan had been the first step in securing the club's future.

aAt least we've got some idea of where we want to go and how we want to get there,a Mr Wolgast said.

Kawana, along with clubs like Coolum, Pelican Waters, and Pacific Paradise, is regarded as one of the most successful and progressive bowls clubs on the Sunshine Coast in an era when the number of bowlers is dropping.

District president Jack Inglis noted in his annual report this week a fall in district membership of 414 people, or 11.8 percent over the last eight years, including a decrease of 170 last year.

The Sunshine Coast has lost two clubs, Peregian and Caloundra RSL Memorial, in the last 12 months, which Mr Inglis described in his report as aa sign of the timesa.

Bowlers are wondering not only which club will be next but how many more?

A former member of the Caloundra RSL Memorial Bowls Club, which closed on December 31 after the Caloundra RSL Sub-branch refused to renew its lease, said clubs had to grow to survive.

aThey have to rely on social members to get them through,a he said, having watched the club compete against the large Caloundra RSL next door for social members.

Don Houston, a committee member at the former Maroochydore Beach Bowls Club at Cotton Tree, is all too aware of the battle clubs face.

Although membership is steady at around the 300 mark, the club is facing ever increasing costs, such as electricity, wages, and water. The annual running costs for three greens alone stand at $140,000.

The club, like Kawana, has tried a name change, dropping the word abowlsa and branding itself as Club Maroochy Beach, but that has not been enough to draw in crowds of lucrative social members.

With a renovated surf club just down the road, the glitzy Maroochydore RSL a few hundred metres in the opposite direction, and the Swan Bowls Club just over the other side of town, it faces tough competition for the local entertainment dollar and the pickings are slim as far as members go because many of the area's residents are transient or holidaymakers.

The club survives on the winter bowlers who flee from southern states every year to play in the sun. …

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