The greens at the Inglewood Bowling and Sports Club are neatly trimmed and primed for a jack to be rolled to the other end, as lawn bowls players have done there since 1951.
But there are no more balls clinking together at the head of the game.
The club is preparing to close and the greens have fallen silent. Inside the club house, there was clear anger directed towards the City of Stirling among a dozen or so long-time members.
“What they have done is neglect the senior citizens of the area,” club president Bob Hansson told the group.
Following a review of the 10 bowling clubs in the area, the council decided not to fund a refurbishment of the club house and members have voted to disband.
“Well, I think it’s fairly short-sighted,” Mr Hansson said.
“This club has got a wealth of history, going back to the 1950s. It is used heavily by the community.”
Review signed club’s death sentence
The City of Stirling’s review began in 2016 in conjunction with Bowls WA and Bowls Australia, amid a declining trend in bowling numbers.
In 1985, there were 37,000 bowls members across the state, but that has now dropped below 16,000 in just over 200 clubs.
Conversely, the number of corporate and casual bowlers — people who bowl at least four times a year — has risen from zero in 1985 to an estimated 150,000 now.
As Inglewood disbands, other clubs are finding new ways to stay afloat.
They are looking beyond just bowls, to new sports and events to attract younger generations and transform themselves into community venues.
“If you rely nowadays, in any club, just on the pure membership of your own club, you’re going to struggle,” Bowls WA chief executive Ken Pride said.
“So bowling clubs now, the ones that are doing very well are looking to get outside of the club, into the community, make sure they’re a hub within their own area.”
Bayswater Bowling and Recreation Club was also on the verge of going under several years ago.
But then it converted one of its greens into a street roller hockey pad, drawing big crowds of mostly young people and sparking a major renewal at the club, as the number of social members surged and bar sales skyrocketed.Source, Images & More: http://www.abc.net.au/