SWAP your blazers for burgers is the message from one bowls club as they look to transform the image of the sport.
Heaton Hall Bowling Club in Greater Manchester is hoping to show that bowls is for players of all ages during the upcoming Bowls’ Big Weekend, when clubs across England are opening their doors to new members.
The club, which is just four years from its centenary, is implementing a more casual dress code and offering music, food, and drink to potential new members – something committee member Jack Lockhart hopes will attract a younger demographic.
He said: “Our aim is to try and create a different atmosphere from the typical greys and whites, blazers and medallions – we’re trying to get rid of that image.
“Our way of going about this event is, come in, have a drink, have a burger, and if you want to come and have a bowl – you need an in to get people walking through the door.
“We’ve got quite a casual dress code and we’ve said to people can you come casual dress rather than coming in your blazer.
“Part of my role is to start trying to change the tide within the club around this mentality that we have to do everything in greys and whites, to try and create a more inviting scenario for people.”
The club currently has between 100-120 members, with an average age of above 60, something 23-year-old Lockhart is looking to change.
“I really want to kick this image of the typical 70-year-old bowler,” added Lockhart.
“We need to start pushing it to a younger demographic. The majority of our members are in their 60s.
“We need to start building a rapport with people in their 30s and 40s who start coming through and change the outlook of our club.”
Lockhart sees Bowls’ Big Weekend, taking place between 27-29 May, as a prime opportunity to welcome new members to the club that hosted the bowls competition at the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester.
The club is holding several events on the green alongside all the activities off it, with a ‘Clash of the Codes’ merging Crown Green and Flat Green bowls to give people a chance to try out the sport for themselves.
“Bowls’ Big Weekend is helping to start to change the way that clubs go about advertising,” said Lockhart.
“Our aim is just to show what the club is truly about.
“If we get five people wanting to join, we can start integrating them within the club and they’ve got a social network.
“The hardest thing is coming into a new club as a single person and not knowing what you’re doing.
“I’d say to people: go with an open mindset about the sport.”