Richest bowls tourney open to all players
TAGGED "The world's biggest bowls festival", the $250,000 Australian Open will use 15 Gold Coast clubs from Coolangatta north to Beenleigh for a fortnight in June.
More than 2000 bowlers, including internationals from other countries, are expected to take part in what is also the world's richest tournament.
But you don't have to be a champion to play in it. It's a true open event - open to every registered bowler. There are no qualifying events. The draw will be completely random, with no seedings in either sectional or knockout play.
The Australian Open, which carries maximum points in national rankings, was held on the Gold Coast for the first time in 2015 and was such a success it has been the venue ever since, with prizemoney increasing with the success.
The program - apart from the usual singles, pairs and fours - includes among 20 disciplines events for under-18s, over-60s and bowlers with a disability.
Entries for the 14-day tournament are open until April 3.
GOLD Coast bowlers kept their record alive when Jayden Christie (Helensvale) and Sean Ingham (Broadbeach) landed the big money in the final of the Summerland Pairs at Ballina.
Since 2011, Gold Coasters have been out of the winner's list only twice - in 2014 when it was won by father-son pairing Craig and Aaron Teys (Ballina/Warilla) and last year when it was taken out by Alan Abbott (Yamba) and Tweed-Byron's Alf Boston.
In 2011 it was Sean Baker (Broadbeach), in 2012 Brett Wilkie (Helensvale) and in 2013 Mark Bayliss (Tweed Heads).
Summerland Pairs and Singles winners pick up 72 points in the Australian rankings.
The Summerland Singles with a record 128 bowlers entered started on Monday of this week and will finish with the final on Friday.
Thirty two players are competing daily in sections of fours to decide Friday's finalists.
Sectional play is three games of 21 up. Post sectionals and all finals are 21 up with no dead ends.
BOWLS Australia says it is offering "an exciting opportunity for an experienced bowls person to be involved in building on the tremendous success of the Australian Jackaroos at the recent world championships".
The call is for expressions of interest for positions as national selectors for a term from January to the end of the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast.
Submissions close with Bowls Australia on January 9.
BOWLS PREMIER LEAGUE
THE eight franchises have confirmed their teams for the Bowls Premier League, expanded for the first time to New Zealand from February 27 to March 2.
The winner of the recent Australian version, the Sydney Lions team - Aron Sherriff, Ben Twist and Karen Murphy - goes into the event unchanged and must be favourite.
An indication of the high standard is the dropping of Kelvin Kerkow from the Brisbane Pirates, who won the inaugural Australian Premier League and haven't made a final since. His place has been taken by in-form Irish international Jeremy Henry.
Twenty hours of the action will be telecast live by Fox Sports.
WHAT A RECORD
HOW good is Helensvale's Lynsey Clarke?
Women's bowls seems to keep coming up with champions but her 2016 record will take some beating.
She won the Queensland state pairs, triples and fours and was nudged out of back-to-back singles crowns - a total of 14 state titles in 10 years. Apart from that, her record includes "a handful" of state champion-of-champion titles and more club championships than you could poke a kitty at.
MY VIEW: ON GRADINGS
BOWLS is the only sport in which clubs and players make great efforts to stay in grades lower than their capabilities. Those in other sports try their damnedest to reach the top level.
With pennants not so far away, clubs will be asking the district match committee for the grades they want their pennant sides to play in. And you can bet these will be the lowest they can seek without hiding their heads in embarrassment.
Why this race to mediocrity?
It's to win a triangular piece of rag. Hanging the rag in the clubhouse doesn't even come with bragging rights - there's no merit in beating someone less capable than yourself. Being beaten in the top grade carries more credit than winning at the bottom level.
In interdistrict competitions, on paper it seems Tweed-Byron and Northern Rivers should outclass Clarence River. While the two have No 1 grades in pennants, the Clarence starts at No 3. Yet it's not unknown for the Clarence to hammer the other two districts in interdistrict competition.
Ask the Clarence why they have no No 1s and they'll tell you it's because they couldn't win a zone or state pennant at that level.
This insistence on winning a pennant - it applies in all three districts - has developed into an obsession in which (a) the club gets into as low a grade as possible and (b) the club stacks the team with players who should be grades higher.
Is a triangular piece of rag worth selling your sporting soul?
Email items for inclusion in Jim Brigginshaw's bowls column, published in The Northern Star on Wednesdays, to email@example.com