How the Gilberts and Ryan Bester saved Broadbeach Bowls Club.
Ten years ago the future of bowling on the Gold Coast looked bleak. Known as the Mecca of Bowls in Australia, it had 25 bowls clubs in 25 miles. However, declining membership numbers, the loss of smaller clubs, and the drop in numbers for the popular Gold Coast Winter Carnival meant that something needed to be done. Fast.
One of the biggest clubs on the Coast with four greens and a big club house, Broadbeach Bowls Club (BBBC), was in trouble. It looked like it was going to be handed over to the Kurrawa Surf Club at the annual meeting in 2008.
Along came Barry Gilbert, new chairman of BBBC. With Barry as chairman and his wife of 50 years Colleen as secretary manager, they saved the club from going to the surf club. The rest is history.
Apart from restoring the financial side of the club, the masterstroke was employing a bowls manager/coordinator. Canadian Ryan Bester was recruited to lift the standard on the field in the highly competitive Gold Coast bowls pennant.
While Australian idol Steve Glasson won the 2004 World Bowls Singles in Ayr in Scotland, 20 year old Canadian Ryan Bester and lead Keith Roney won the World Bowls Pairs.
Soon after finishing in the finals in the World Team Cup in 2007, Ryan Bester moved to Australia and now is one of the most popular and well known bowlers in the world. Ryan joins the ranks alongside Australian and International champions such as Steve Glasson, Kelvin Kerkow, Alex Marshall, Paul Foster and Brett Wilkie.
Nicknamed Rhino, Bester the masterblaster is well known for his driving skill. However, he also has the draw skill to match his drive, making him the champion player he is today.
Since winning the 2004 World Champion Pairs, Bester has been the most consistent top player in the Commonwealth Games and World Bowls. In recent years, he won a singles Bronze Medal in the 2006 Melbourne Games. a singles Silver Medal in 2012 World Bowls, Silver Medal in 2014 Glasgow and recently a Silver Medal in the 2016 World Bowls in Christchurch, New Zealand.
There was a saying – “To be the Best, you need to beat the Rest of the field” which has now changed to “To be the Best – you need to beat the Bester”.
Bester’s record of three consecutive Queensland State singles titles, as well as Queensland Champion of Champions Fours and Singles titles in recent years, is part of a long list of major wins in all states of Australia.
Bester broke the hoodoo surrounding the prestigious Golden Nugget tournament after becoming the first male bowler to win back-to-back titles in 2014/2015 against the best bowlers in Australia. He has also won the Bowls Australia ranking award for two consecutive years.
Bester’s views on the re-spot rule is also well known and at times he has not entered tournaments where this rule is in the conditions of play. He is adamant it spoils the spectacle of the game when removing one of the skills of our great sport.
The many hundreds of spectators who witnessed the classic display of draw bowling and driving (replay dead ends) between Bester and Australian champion Mark Casey in the final of 2015 Golden Nugget would agree with his views on the re-spot rule, especially in major prestigious tournaments.
The success on and off the field for the Broadbeach Bowls Club has shone the spotlight on the Gold Coast with the club hosting the $250,000 World’s Biggest Bowls Festival for 5 years, the Australian Open. The club will also host the 2018 Commonwealth Games in April 2018, plus the World Youth Championships and the multi nations tournament as a forerunner to the Australian Open in June this year.
Along with surrounding clubs, Musgrave Hill. Southport and Helensvale, BBBC will host the Asia Pacific Games and World Bowls in 2020/22.
With a $4 million upgrade to the club, Chairman Barry Gilbert has led the revival of Broadbeach Bulls with world class club facilities. Ryan Bester has led the club on the field of play with the men and ladies to pennant flags for the first time on the field in the tough pennant competition on the Gold Coast.
The Gold Coast has retained the title as the Mecca of Bowls in Australia is now the host city for major bowls events for the next five years.
Bowlers, where would we be without BBBC?