SPECTATORS who saw the rookies zone finals at Ballina RSL at the weekend were entitled to wonder how newcomer bowlers could become so skilful after such a short time in the game.
A rookie in this statewide comp is one who has played bowls for no more than 30 months.
Demonstrating the power of youth, the 14-year-old Conlan twins of Alstonville were in both finals - Indi in the singles, with brother Kit in the pairs.
They won the pairs. In the singles, Indi, probably shaken by the inexplicable calling off of his games the previous week without notifying him, went down in both of the rounds.
His contest against the eventual title winner, ex-policeman Mark Walsh, 49 (Grafton Men's), was a nail-nibbler. Scores in the first-to-17 game were tied 14-14 before Walsh went on to win.
In the 12-end pairs, it was a different matter. The Conlans were far too good for the Tweed-Byron and Clarence River opposition, winning their games 18-7 and 22-9.
The twins now will play in the state finals at Raymond Terrace near Newcastle on November 1-2.
ALSO played at Ballina RSL on Sunday was the final of the Zone One Champion of Champions singles. It was won by Northern Rivers champion Ben McCall (South Lismore).
To secure a place in the zone event, McCall beat Kris Lehfeldt (Ballina) 31-13 in the district final that was moved to South Lismore when rain made the Lismore City greens unplayable.
In the zone finals, McCall beat Wayne McLeod (Grafton Men's) 31-23 and Troy Makin (Ocean Shores) 31-16.
McCall now will move on to play in the State Champion of Champions final at Nowra in early November.
THE mind boggles at what this is all about. A meeting has been called today at 99 on York (the Bowlers Club of NSW) to discuss the future of No.1 grade pennants in the metropolitan zones.
Invited to attend are representatives of No.1 grade clubs in five zones - Sydney Northern, Sydney North West, Sydney Central, Sydney South West and Sydney South.
Says Bowls NSW: "This is the chance for all zones and clubs to ensure that they have a chance for input into the future - a chance that should not be missed."
ALL zones? Surely the state doesn't think only the Big Smoke has any input about where pennants is headed.
TO WHILE away the time during a downpour at a Sunshine Coast club on our past presidents' tour, we were introduced to Jack Attack.
This game is an initiative of Bowls Australia and must rank as a top recruitment means.
It can be played on any surface - from carpet to concrete to wood or anything else that is flat - and overcomes the need for a bowling green and full-sized bowls to introduce newcomers, particularly children, to the sport.
In the game, small biased bowls of lightweight rubber are delivered as close as possible to a target mat bullseye, with lesser points awarded for surrounding areas.
Bowls Australia came up with the idea after noting the limitations of children using full-sized bowls designed for adults. The kids have taken to it. We were told of a Brisbane club that, since the game was introduced there indoors, has been packed with youngsters playing it while their parents barrack from the sidelines.
But this game isn't just for kids. A busload of past presidents was as excited playing it as any youngster would be.
It's a great way of getting parents to bring their offspring into bowls clubs - far better than providing playground equipment that could cost the club plenty if a kid is hurt.
THE small club with the big heart, Lismore Workers Sports, had 30 bowlers filling its single green for Legacy Day. They raised $800 for the charity.
Says secretary Lloyd Moss: "Our small club has won the NRDBA Legacy Shield more times than any other club in the area. We invite other clubs to roll up their sleeves and challenge us for it." Lloyd Moss is proud of his tiny club (38 members) and its workers, such as life member Jack Piper, who has just reached his coming of age - 21 years of service to bowls.
The club, once known as Lismore RSL until it came under the Workers banner, started with an artificial green, the first between Newcastle and the Queensland border.
Bowlers are well-regarded for their contributions to charities. At the greenkeepers' annual day, held this year at Ballina RSL, 152 players raised $2000 for Our House at Lismore Base Hospital.
NOTE the date for Alstonville's Festival of Bowls Pairs is not next Wednesday as listed in the NRDBA calendar of events. It is on Wednesday week, October 15. Nominations are now open (6628 7194 or 6628 0794). Play will be three rounds of 13 ends starting at 9am.
BETH Quinlan, who represented Australia in women's bowls nine times, has been appointed a national selector, joining Steve Glasson, Kelvin Kerkow and David Stockham. She's the first female on the selection panel since Jenny Harrigan.
ROBBIE Dobbins, assistant national coach to Steve Glasson, has announced his retirement after being involved in coaching at the highest level for 20 years. In that time he coached four countries - Australia, Malaysia, Thailand and Scotland.