Club marks 90 years of bowls

Club members take to the green for the start of the summer season last month. The club will...
Club members take to the green for the start of the summer season last month. The club will celebrate 90 years of bowls in Wanaka this weekend. Photo: Supplied
When the Wanaka bowling club first opened 90 years ago it is unlikely any of the members imagined  one day it would be the biggest club in Otago — and  the ninth largest in New Zealand.

Past and present members will celebrate 90 years of bowls in Wanaka this weekend with a dinner and celebration tomorrow night and a bowling clinic on Sunday morning.

Club publicity officer Peter Wilson said the club  was one of the most progressive bowls clubs in New Zealand with top-class facilities which allowed  year-round bowling. It had come a long way from opening day in 1927 when there were only 24 members, all men, though from photos it appeared the entire town showed up, Mr Wilson said. Women were invited to play socially until they formed their own club in 1938 when a ladies room was added. The two clubs amalgamated in 2001.

Bowls was now played all year round thanks to the indoor stadium rink which was opened in 1994.

"We’re very proud of the club we have here," Mr Wilson said.

Just like the town around it the club had expanded rapidly in the past few years and now had a membership of about 180, which was still growing.

That made it the largest club in Otago and the ninth largest in New Zealand. 

"I’m not sure when it was first opened they could have ever imagined that."

New Zealand bowls representative Mike Kernaghan would be the quest speaker  at the dinner tomorrow night and would run the bowling clinic on Sunday.

"It’s a real honour to have someone of Mike’s calibre to come and speak to us, he’s one of the best in New Zealand."

The club was always seeking new members both young and old, Mr Wilson said. 

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