Lake Monger reaping rewards from diversification

by Domenic Favata

Clubs of all sports around Australia are constantly facing the need to diversify in order to attract new members and visitors to their facility.

For bowling clubs this is no different, they must identify their strengths, engage with their local community and find ways to encourage people to walk through the door.

One club doing a great job in this area is Lake Monger Recreation Club in Western Australia.

Situated on the banks of the picturesque Lake Monger, just minutes from the city and across from the busy Mitchell Freeway, the club is embracing the community and finding ways to remain viable while still maintaining its key identity as a bowling club.

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In terms of bowlers, the club has just 45 members, however, with a large and growing number of social members, it is what the club is doing off the greens that is ensuring it remains financially prosperous to promote all aspects of the club.

As well as two carpet bowling greens, the club boasts two 5-a-side soccer courts, a Petanque court (which has replaced an unused bowling green), an archery club in the park next door, darts, pool, and a golf section that plays off-site.

“Around a decade ago, and before my time with the club, management realised that to remain viable, we couldn’t simply remain as a bowling club – we needed to look at other forms of income. Petanque and archery were two of the early ones before the 5-a-side soccer went in about 7 years ago,” said Club Manager Peter Hill.

But the sports aren’t just it, the club is situated on one of the busiest walking paths in Perth, with many choosing a walk around the lake as the perfect way to get their daily exercise.

“We watched the people go by… However, we were somewhat stymied by local regulations that didn’t allow us to use signage etc to advertise to those passers-by. We tried a couple of times, using signage supplied by Bowls WA through our Regional Bowls Manager (RBM) Clive Adams, and there was certainly promise, but we were looking for how we could do more,” Peter added.

The crucial breakthrough came when the Mayor of Cambridge, Keri Shannon, visited the club and immediately recognised the potential.

“Mayor Shannon, along with others at the Cambridge Council, have really opened things up for us,” Peter said.

“We can now market to the walkers and the council has even installed a path from the walking path to our front gate, making it even easier for people to visit our club.

“We’ve installed signage to encourage people to come in for coffee and cake, and we are seeing an immediate response. We are also dog friendly, and happy to provide water for anyone out just walking their dog.”

The club is now opening the Coffee and Cake Café from 8.30am to 2.30pm, Tuesday to Sunday, and is seeing a steady flow of customers coming through the door.

More people through the club is creating a greater atmosphere and is exposing it to a new clientele, possible new members and more people to participate in all of the great offerings, both sporting and hospitality.

The club has recently installed solar panels, embracing its environmental responsibilities and also embraces its local community through involvement with many local groups, including St John of God Hospital where the club welcomes Mums and Bubs, and in particular, breastfeeding Mums.

Local dance groups are regulars at the club and it has great modern equipment to ensure these occasions are as enjoyable as possible. A local fitness class also runs a session each week.

Autism Australia visits each week, using the facility for various events, including bowls, as well as dancing and learning activities.

Perhaps the most exciting announcement in recent times is the partnership with the Western Australian Deaf Recreation Association.

The partnership has brought nearly 200 new members into the club and continues to grow, but it is the way the club has adopted the partnership that is truly impressive.

“I’ve employed two bar staff that know sign language,” Peter said.

“We are all learning. I now know the alphabet in sign language, and we are arranging courses for all our members that wish to learn sign language to get involved. The Association has brought with it some amazing people that have a shared interest in enjoying recreational and sporting activities. We are very pleased.”

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Functions are a crucial source of income for all clubs and Lake Monger is certainly promoting itself in that market.

One corporate Christmas function held last year was attended by hundreds of people and was staged on an unused green. In the perfect surroundings, it was a wonderful event that provided important income for the club, as well as showcasing the facility to everyone in attendance.

“This is a great story of a club that has recognised it needs to do things differently to survive,” said RBM Clive Adams.

“The surroundings of the club are a clear strength, with a summer’s evening enjoying the views over the lake just ideal. Clubs need to find their key strengths and capitalise on them. Lake Monger is doing this brilliantly.”

The club plans to do more into the future. The café style offering is in its infancy and simply needs time to grow, while there are plans for a community shed to be located on the premises, and talk of Local Tribute bands and food truck Sundays being planned.

The club is well positioned to look for grant opportunities as they arise and build on a wonderfully effective relationship with the Council.

If your club is looking for assistance with promotion or attracting new members, a simple approach to your local RBM can get the ball rolling. The RBM team across Australia has vast experience in the operation of clubs and is ready and willing to assist when you call. 

Contribution by Clive Adams – Regional Bowls Manager (WA North/East)