Here in Mackay and North Queensland we have just experienced one of the most magnificent winter periods of weather on record. Historically, it is our “dry season” but this year, the number of sunshine hours without rain has been exceptional. From a bowling perspective, it has meant club and district competitions went through without delays and social bowls could be scheduled seven days a week. Sadly, it has meant drought conditions for farmers and our agricultural industries, creating challenges for families and businesses.
Nationally, 8 per cent of registered bowlers are now ‘armed’. At North Mackay Bowls Club (NMBC) we are seeing an increasing number of women and men club bowlers converting to the bowling arm. This pattern is also being repeated at other clubs in the district. With over 20 per cent of ladies and men now with bowling arms, NMBC members are having to accept the fact that in both social and competition games, there will be a “mix” of arm and non-arm bowlers. After viewing (with club coaches) the recent ‘converts’, every single man and woman is an experienced bowler at club, district or in a few cases, even higher bowling levels. Their conversion to a bowling arm has been triggered by failing physical condition through natural ageing or in many cases, a medical condition, which limits their ability to deliver the bowls in a traditional style.
All of these keen bowlers have followed the BA requirements to allow them to continue competing at club and district levels, by obtaining a doctor’s Medical Certificate and purchasing a BA approved arm. Interestingly, one or two bowlers admit that in the past, they have been vocal in their opposition and criticism of arm bowlers and the ‘cheating stick’! With the passage of time and their desire to continue their passion for our sport, camaraderie and friendships developed through years of bowling, they have realised the only option to continue playing and also avoid penalties for ‘dumping’ enforced by clubs to protect their greens, they are now arm bowlers!
Arm bowling is becoming so prevalent here in North Queensland that the Maroon Arm Bowlers Association (MABA), of which I was a founding and committee member in Brisbane, has agreed to visit Mackay in October with a view to forming a North Queensland branch of MABA. This will allow members to compete in trials for state-level teams and also hold competitions in the north of the state. Queensland has challenges with distance with the northern areas being 1 – 3 hours flying time from the MABA homeland in SE QLD. More in the next article!
THE BIONIC BOWLER