At the Howick Bowling Club in the eastern suburbs of Auckland, they take
their bowls very seriously.
They were the headquarters for the recent North-South and National
They have a huge membership of 220 – which any bowling club in the country would covet. What’s more, we’re talking about 220 full bowls playing members – no one particularly counts the students, the casuals, the social members or those who drop by for a beer. Most other clubs would
be envious of having 220 members of any sort!
They have FIVE greens. There can’t be many other clubs in New Zealand
with 5 greens. Which goes to show – how could a club be so green-greedy
unless they took their game seriously?
And like any serious bowling club would, they’re contemplating putting a
cover on a green. That’s not extraordinary in itself. In Auckland, New Lynn already has a cover. And covers are underway at Remuera, Orewa and
Royal Oak. Howick isn’t just contemplating one cover. Plans are underway
“That’s what the controversy has been about,” admits Club President Lyn
McKay. “Not covering a green. Everyone was behind that. But whether
we should do one, or one now and one later, or two now. The ‘two-nows’
won the day.”
To the 470 ‘uncovered’ clubs around New Zealand, that might sound
extravagant. But when you explore further, it makes a lot of sense.
“Firstly,” explains Lyn, “It’s like any building project – it’s more cost-effective
to build two at once than one by itself … or another at another time.”
“Secondly, we already have 2 artificial greens that can be covered. We
don’t have the cost of converting a grass green. Or the cost of trying to
maintain a grass green under cover.”
“Thirdly, we want the club itself to be able to use the covered greens, and not just have one reserved for special tournaments. Two covered green
give members the choice to play under cover or out on the grass. And if it rains, we’ll at least be able to continue play with the two greens. Our
normal weekly tournaments will be able to continue in good or bad
However, it’s early days yet in the project. And there’s a lot of work to be
“The land is owned by the Council,” says Lyn. “We have to get landowner
consent, resource consent, building consent, and I’m sure a zillion other
The club has already encountered its first hurdle.
“Because of the age of the club, there were no plans for the underground
services. Council knew there was some big sewerage and big water pipes
under the land somewhere, but not where, or how deep. We had to get
three different engineering firms to survey and locate the sewerage and
stormwater pipes so we can build around them.”
“We’re also going to have to excavate the bank on Selwyn Road,” adds
Lyn, “We plan to have seating around the covered greens so people can
relax, have a drink and watch the bowls.
With all this development on the brink of happening, the club is buzzing.
It may be a serious bowling club for serious bowlers to play on serious
greens, but over the past few months they’ve also enjoyed a summer of fun
for fun people wanting to play bowls for fun.
“Our ‘Taco Tuesdays’ have been hugely successful,” says Lyn. “For 6 weeks
we’ve had families coming along in the evening and enjoying two hours of bowls followed by a taco and a drink. We even borrowed a Jack Attack
set for the kids to play.”
Like other clubs have found with casual public evenings like ‘business house bowls’ or ‘mates in bowls’, ‘Taco Tuesdays’ are providing a great nursery for future club members.
“In the end, bowls is all about enjoyment,” confesses Lyn, the not-so-serious
President of the supposedly serious club, “and the 2 new covers are about
making bowls more enjoyable for everyone.”