You’ve probably been to Bay View without knowing it. It’s the small settlement that signals you’ve finally hit the coast on the Taupo to Napier highway, and the capital of Hawkes Bay is just 9 kilometres to the south.
The Bay View Bowling Club is located in the Petane Domain, right on the main highway. By bowling club standards, it’s a relatively young club (founded in just 1976) and a modestly facilitied club (just one carpet green). But it’s ‘home’ for over 100 lawn bowlers, over 20 socialisers, and over 10 ‘associates’.
Bay View is a bowling club that’s got comfortable in its own skin. It’s given up angsting about the lack of younger players, and instead is content with the membership top-ups it continues to get from the retired communities of Bay View and Napier.
The club has something on most days. And the greens are available 365 days of the year. There’s no weekdays off and no winters off – in fact members of the nearby Bluff Hill Bowling Club become welcome guests over winter.
But the club doesn’t rest on its laurels and assume that the members will just turn up for a roll-up. “What we found,” says Committee Member Garry Ravenwood, “is that members wanted more ‘organised’ bowls. They didn’t want to just come for a casual roll-up … in fact the term ‘roll-up’ has been banned! They wanted to come to an organised game and enjoy a bit of competition – and paying a $2 entry fee and having prizes has added a lot more interest.
The result is that weekly ‘club day’ attendance has gone from 15 to 20 bowlers, to 30 to 40 bowlers looking for a really competitive game.
Another change that’s been made is to play 2x4x2 bowls, where each team comprises just two players with 4 bowls each. “The first player plays two bowls, then the second player four bowls. The first player then plays his last two bowls and they swap around for the next end. Everyone’s getting a go as a lead and a skip, and everyone’s always playing rather than sitting around waiting between ends.”
Every year the club also runs sudden-death masters championships. “A quick game’s a good game – the knockout games are just 14 ends taking no more than an hour each. The $2 entry fee provides prizes for the winners of the 4 age groups : 65-69; 70-74; 75-79 and 80+.”
On top of this, the club runs a 10-week ‘Club Classic’ tournament which starts at the end of February. “The entrants play every week for the 10 weeks,” says Garry, “but only their best 6 games count. It means that people can miss a week or two and still have a chance to win.” The winner not only takes away the Wattie Gibsone Trophy, but generous sponsorship means there are substantial prizes for both winner and runners-up.
The club runs the usual triples tournaments, but also runs single entry progressive tournaments once a month where players play 3 games in 3 different teams. “It’s a great club mixer,” observes Garry. “We also have single entry triple and fours mixed championship games which gets everybody into a team.”
In recent years, the club has been playing 60s and 70s music while the bowls (even ‘serious’ bowls) are being played. “It’s just become part of the atmosphere – just like it is now when you go to the rugby or cricket.”
“We even had the music playing when the men were playing at the Aotearoa National Bowls Tournament in February this year.”
Next time you drive to Mahia Peninsula to watch a Rocket Lab launch, make a point of calling in to Bay View Bowling Club. Remember, it doesn’t matter which day you call, more than likely there’ll be a game on. Just have $2 at the ready, and you’ll be in!