WILLAURA - Willaura Bowls Club president Tom Arnold has welcomed last week's announcement by the Victorian Government that it will provide $85,000 towards the upgrade of the club's bowls rink.
Minister for Sport and Recreation Hugh Delahunty made the announcement of considerable funding which will come via the Victorian Government's Community Facility Funding Program and will complement Ararat Rural City Council's pledge of $15,000 and the Willaura Bowls Club's $38,000 for the project.
"I was very happy to see such an important contingent of people in the know at the announcement, from the minister, to the Ararat CEO and councillors and then a large turnout of our members and other groups from the community," Arnold said.
"We are also trying to organise with whoever gets the contract that on top of the $38,000 from the club that we will provide some 'in kind' work that would bring the total to $150,000."
Arnold said the upgrade would see a new woven carpet green replace the current 21-year-old threadbare bowls rink.
"It will give us a totally new green," he said.
"What we are after is the new carpet type green. It doesn't require water to maintain it, which will mean we save a huge amount of water.
"A lot of people wouldn't realise that synthetic greens take a lot, if not more water that a lawn green and this new one does not have sand on it either, so it is easier to maintain.
"The speed of the green will be more controlled too. Some of the older ones that have been around for five to 10 years now, the speed is very dependent on the weather, whereas the one we are after will not be."
The new woven carpet green will be the first of its kind in the Grampians area.
Arnold said following discussions with Council it is hoped the project can be put to tender within the next few weeks.
"We are hopeful to have the new green down by around July," he said.
"It will need time to settle, but we certainly hope it will be all ready to go by the next pennant season."
Bowls clubs in the region rely on hosting tournaments throughout the year as a major fundraising booster, however Willaura has had to cancel its annual tournament in recent years due to the state of its green.
The club was able to continue to host pennant matches during the 2012/13 season, however worn away joins and edges breaking apart particularly highlighted its age.
“The current green it is satisfactory to play on, but not pretty. We have lost a lot of potential bowlers because of that,” Arnold said.
“It is like golf I guess, they want to play on the best golf courses and bowlers want to play on the best greens.
“This has been in the pipeline for the past six years, so it is certainly a long time coming.”
Arnold is confident the upgrade will increase interest in the club, which currently has about 30 members including social members.
“Particularly in the last 12 months the club has expanded and that has a lot to do with Bingo we have started up with the local Lions Club,” he said.
“That is totally non-for-profit, any profits we make from the night all go directly back into the Willaura
Bingo is held at the Willaura Bowls Club every second and fourth Friday of the month beginning at 7.30pm.