Temuka Barefoot Bowls

The Temuka Bowling Club gave new meaning to community sport in South Canterbury with its hugely popular barefoot bowls in January and February.

Played on a Thursday night for six weeks, the competition saw 32 triples play a format of two-set bowls, each set being over seven ends, and with a tie-beaker end if needed. More teams wanted to enter but the club's two greens can only handle a maximum of 32. And these were not teams of bowlers. Instead, the competition was restricted to non-bowlers and they were as keen as mustard.

Each Thursday night players gathered to practice up to an hour ahead of games starting, and the standard of play was impressive. Some of the team names also impressed: for example, Hula Girls, Below Average, Bowled and Beautiful, and Old Boilers. After the games finished the players enjoyed a barbeque and the chance to catch up with friends and acquaintances.

Club secretary Laurie Sullivan said the barefoot bowls provides the opportunity to give people a taste of what bowls is like, but in addition to it being a fundraiser for the club and a chance to grow membership, it also widens the use of a community facility. The hosting of the event did put something of a strain on club members, with each rink being watched over by a bowler who kept the score, answered any questions, and dealt with any measuring required. But Laurie said the members (the club has a playing strength of 55) were happy to help with such a popular initiative.

The barefoot bowls nights were the last major event at the club before one of the greens is converted to an artificial surface to allow bowls to be played all-year round. The project, which is costing in excess of $300,000, is scheduled to start in late March. The new Tiger Turf surface should be ready for use by early winter.