Bridgewater’s barefoot bowls revival

by admin on April 18, 2016

Bridgewater Bowls Club, located North West of Bendigo, have shown it’s never too late to try and attract new members by running a barefoot bowls program. Bowls Australia loves to hear stories of bowling clubs running successful barefoot bowls programs and a recent story from the Bridgewater Bowls Club in Victoria is nothing short of remarkable. 

What’s unique about their story and their barefoot bowls program is the size of the town of Bridgewater, the amount of participants they get each week and the outstanding membership turnaround from when the program started seven years ago. 

Bridgewater’s participation program started seven years ago as an initiative of the President at the time Mr Ian Ball. 

The club was at its knees with rapidly declining membership; membership had dipped below 20 and the club was beginning to struggle financially with thoughts of closure becoming a reality. 

Ian Ball decided to run the barefoot bowls program and just as well he did because half of the town of Bridgewater were enthusiastic about trying the sport of bowls. 

The barefoot bowls program is run every Tuesday night and has attracted over 130 different people to come and try bowls for the first time; 22 teams of four sign up regularly to compete in the eight week long comps. 

The town of Bridgewater, located North West of Bendigo, has a population of roughly 300 people, so essentially nearly half the population are now avid lawn bowlers. 

Other interesting facts about this success story is the membership has doubled since the program started and is now over 40 and climbing and the current President, Secretary and Treasurer all began bowling courtesy of this barefoot bowls program. 

Current President Nick Saunders is one of the staunched four to five volunteers who attend every week and the program initiator Ian Ball is one of those volunteers whose only job at the club is to run the barefoot bowls program, and why not when he does it so well! 

Importantly, Bridgewater has an up to date database that gets utilised every year to promote when the program is set to run again; this allows the club to be in constant communication with every person who has come to try bowls and from the numbers they are getting each time they run an eight week program, it is no wonder their membership has doubled. 

Regional Bowls Manager Joshua Thornton was speaking to one of the participants and in her words the barefoot bowls program at Bridgewater is the best thing that has happened to the town. 

If your club is in a similar situation why not try running your own barefoot bowls program to get more people through the doors and generate new bowling members.

Bowls Australia have 16 Regional Bowls Managers employed all over the country who can assist your club; to find a Regional Bowls Manager near you click here.

Bowls Australia has developed a successful participation program called Jack Attack, based off the format of the Australian Premier League, which is being run in over 100 bowling clubs across the country.

Jack Attack is designed to help clubs to transition one off barefoot bowlers into becoming full bowling members. 

For more information about Jack Attack visit the website or ask your Regional Bowls Manager to talk you through the benefits of the new fast-paced participation program which will help your club.