Lansdowne Bowling Club president Peter Davidson, front, new club member Chris Ure, back left, Masterton Park Bowling Club president Doug Bryant, Lansdowne club treasurer Alan Taplin and life member Eileen Lehmstedt. PHOTO/BECKIE WILSON
Lansdowne Bowling Club members have packed away their bowls one last time at their home greens after several years struggling to stay afloat.
Like many bowling clubs across the country, the club on Roberts Rd, Masterton, has seen a decline in membership, which has, in turn, made finances tight.
Treasurer Alan Taplin said the sale of the club grounds ended a financial struggle that had seen him literally lose sleep thinking where the next dollar would come from to pay the club’s bills, from insurance to running costs.
From September, the club will operate at the Masterton Park Bowling Club in Queen Elizabeth Park, while it waits for the new purpose-built Masterton Indoor Bowling Hub to become a reality.
The Masterton Park and Lansdowne clubs will both be based in the new hub, along with Eketahuna and Masterton bowling clubs.
“Instead of all struggling and keep grounds going, we will keep our identity but just play under one roof,” Taplin said.
Eketahuna Bowling Club secretary Peter Waring said the club’s 15-odd members had “considerable interest” in the hub due, to low membership numbers.
Waring said the club had planned to remain in Eketahuna for about a year with the hopes of moving into the hub after that.
Lansdowne club president Peter Davidson said while bowls was a “dying game” it was “very much alive” among members.
“It’s very hard to get new members and a lot of it is because of weekend work commitments.”
Last season the club had about 24 members.
The Lansdowne club had hosted a handful of significant championships since opening in 1953, including, the Maori National Bowls Tournament in the 1980s, and the North Island Firemen’s Tournament in 2014, as well as New Zealand Charter Club tournaments.
Masterton Park bowling club president Doug Bryant spent the first 17 years of his bowls life at the Lansdowne club.
Along with his father-in-law, Cyril Burling, now deceased, the pair laid down the club’s second green and new fencing in the late 1970s. Burling and Bryant travelled the country together playing in bowls tournaments.
“Bowls was his life and the club was his baby,” he said.
It was sad to see the club close, he said. Davidson said the Masterton Park, which has about 15 members, and Lansdowne worked well together, and looked forward to keeping the game alive.
LJ Hooker Masterton owner David McHattie said the bowling club had been sold to a developer who intended to convert the land into residential housing.