Bowls: Back with a vengeance

Blair Barringer trains at the Fairfield Bowling Club. Photo by Peter McIntosh.
Blair Barringer trains at the Fairfield Bowling Club. Photo by Peter McIntosh.
Blair Barringer is the comeback kid who has been the dominant player in Dunedin bowls this season.

Barringer (33) had left his bowls in the cupboard for the past two years to look after his family and concentrate on work.

He has returned in style and made the final of three of the four Bowls Dunedin open championship events. He skipped the winning Fairfield team in the triples and the fours and was runner-up to former international Terry Scott (North East Valley) in the singles.

This equals the record former international Stewart McConnell set 30 years ago.

Barringer's best performance at national level in his first stint at the game was to win the New Zealand under-25 singles title in 2004 when he beat World Bowls players Shannon McIlroy and Ali Forsyth.

He was a member of New Zealand training squads for five years but pulled out when he took a two-year break from the game.

''It was because of work and family commitments,'' he said.

''I needed to give time to my family at that time.''

Barringer, an Otago Regional Council field adviser, is married to Tracey and has two young children - Kaylee (3) and Corbin (1).

''I couldn't find the time to get on the green and play bowls at the weekends,'' he said.

Barringer returned to the sport this season and has adopted a more mature approach to the game.

''I'm a bit more composed now and am mentally tougher,'' Barringer said.

''I used to get rattled a bit.

''When I was out of the game I had time to reflect on what I was good at in bowls and what I needed to work on.''

His skill level and technique has always been of a high standard.

''I just concentrated on staying composed mentally. That's all I've been working on.

''I'm a lot more patient now. I don't push the heads. I don't rush and try to play the big shots as I did in the past. I'm quite patient.

''The big difference now is that I value second shot a lot more. I used to want to move jacks all the time.

''I'm a little bit smarter in the way I play. I see the bigger picture and try to win the game.''

He does not want to rush back into the big time in events outside Dunedin and pulled out of the Bowls Dunedin team for last weekend's quadrangular competition.

''With all the weekends I've played recently I thought it would be best to have a weekend with the family.''

But he still has unfinished business in the sport.

''My goal is to win a national open title,'' he said.

''I'm focusing on the championships in Dunedin next season. It's something I'd like to pull off.''

He still eyes the Black Jacks but is not pushing that goal at the moment.

Barringer has found bowls easier since his return to the sport.

He bases his game more around draw bowls than he did in the past.

''I still drive and play run shots but I like to be patient,'' Barringer said.

''I don't try and fire things up and win by heaps.''

He followed his father, Lindsay Barringer, into bowls in 1995.

''Dad was playing at the North East Valley club and he roped me in to play in a two bowler, two non-bowler tournament,'' Barringer said.

''That's how I got started.

''We won that tournament and I thought that bowls was easy. That got me going. Dad has been my biggest fan. He pushed me to come back and get into it.''

He was supported in his comeback by Bowls Dunedin president Robbie Thomson and Fairfield club stalwart John Crofts.