Celebrating success at The North Beach Bowling Club

by Aidan Davis

The North Beach Bowling Club, situated in the beautiful coastal suburbs of Perth, Western Australia, is celebrating its 60th year of operation and did so recently with an evening of celebration, humour and acknowledgement.

Hosting the night was longtime club member Ron Kuziela, who took the crowd through a comedic look at the history of the Club, taking the time to share some inspirational stories.

North Beach Bowling Club history dates back to 1958 when a group of residents decided it might be a good idea to form a Bowling Club.

Fast forward to 2018 and that group would be very proud of the great facility that now stands at 7 Kitchener Street in North Beach.

With plenty of great work done in the early years to build the foundations and of course in more recent time, the club has truly prospered and grown to be one of the leading clubs in Western Australian bowls.

In the early 2000’s the club found itself struggling, with the opening of two new clubs in the growing northern coastal corridor – the pressure was on to retain members and attract new people into the club.

Some ‘on-the-ball’ members started to look at ways in which they could encourage people to come to the Club.

People like Terry and Cecilia Gmeiner, and Wendy Spratt got together and started providing Friday night meals, with now Treasurer Doug Sheppard and his wife Jan, also getting involved.

The meals were simple at first, but this has now grown to an extensive café and bistro facility that serves meals and coffees regularly throughout the week.

“We wanted, and needed, to give our members, and indeed the community, reasons to come to the club,” said Doug Sheppard.

“It started with the meals, but now we have created a wonderful facility, and people really just enjoy being here.”

The club also went out looking for key sponsors, with club member Merv Potter securing well-known WA car dealer Brian Gardiner as a key contributor.

Whilst this sponsorship has now lapsed, this funding was crucial in seeing the club continue to grow.

In 2010 the club added a synthetic green to further enhance its offering, and that same year introduced TAB facilities which helped to attract many new social members to the Club.

In the years to follow, extensions to the entrance of the clubhouse, creating a wonderful new foyer area as well as the installation of electronic selection boards and new barbecue facilities has given the club a new modern feel, whilst still respecting the tradition of the club.

Coaching programs conducted by Club Coach Ivan Campbell, and more recently Jim Powell, has seen bowling membership skyrocket in the last few seasons.

Membership was steady through the early 2010’s, however, the club has seen membership growth of 78 bowlers in the last 3 years.

Considering, naturally, that some players will have stopped playing or left the club in that time, the actual attraction of new bowlers has been even more significant.

Currently, the club boasts 268 bowling members and around 700 social members.  Of those 700 members, 131 belong to the North Beach Sub Branch of the RSL, showcasing the Clubs great links with the community.

“Our coaches have been crucial to the recruitment of new players,” said Doug.

“The guys do a great job, organising sessions which are well engaged without being pushy. The people that attend truly enjoy themselves and that is borne out by the number of people that are joining our club.”

WA RBM Clive Adams could not be more pleased with the Club’s progress.

“It’s a bigger story than a club that has simply recruited new members,” said Adams.

“It’s a success story based on diversification, capitalising on strengths and opportunities, volunteering, establishing great Club culture, and providing modern attractive facilities. It’s everything that we want to see our Clubs doing.

“The club attracts a diverse range of people.  Recently I met with Doug Sheppard at the club mid-morning on a Friday. Some mums and their kids were enjoying the facility, with the kids playing whilst Mum was enjoying coffee and catch up – this at a time, where the club would’ve otherwise been empty.  It was great to see.

“There’s also a great incentive program in place for members. When membership fees are paid, members are issued with bar vouchers that must be used during the off-season. This encourages the club members to use the facility all year round – a great little initiative which gives something back to the members that remain engaged with the Club.”

The club has a successful Corporate Bowls program, which runs two nights per week over an eight week period, and with the Club so successful at recruiting new players, the time to once again look forward is now.

“We are at capacity,” Treasurer Doug Sheppard said with a view to the future.

“We are looking at reclaiming our fourth green which we leased out to Beach Volleyball a few years ago.  We’ve got to make the decision regarding synthetic or grass, although synthetic looks to be the option at this stage.”

The club has recently replaced its original synthetic green with a new sand filled surface and couldn’t be happier, and in a recent study performed by the City of Stirling, the Club was rated very highly and assessed as a very low risk.

The club is now focusing on planning for the future with a keen eye on the Bowls WA Club of the Year award.

“We know we have been close recently,”  said Doug, “and whilst we are keen to win the award, it is more than that.

“We want our Club to continue on the great pathway we have established so that when our 100-year celebration comes around, we still have a modern and vibrant club to celebrate.”

Club member Jenni McLaughlin has compiled a brilliant commemorative publication of the Club’s history and should anyone wish to purchase a copy, they can do so by contacting the club on 08 9447 3077.

Should any clubs be looking for assistance with any of the initiatives highlighted here, or indeed anything regarding the Management of the club, simply get in touch with your local RBM who will be only too happy to pay your club a visit.

To access the club newsletter and view pictures from the night of celebration click here. 

Caption – The North Beach Bowling Club has gone from strength to strength in its 60 years of operation.