Mens Bowls

Wayne and Stu’s Ozy Open Adventure

Last year, in what started out as an off the cuff remark to Stu if he was interested in playing in the Bowls Australian Open in June 2022 at Surfers Paradise soon developed legs and we made plans to make the trip.

Our only expectation was to enjoy the experience and we certainly did that.

The Oz Open traditionally changed states every year but Queensland now have an agreement with Bowls Australia to run the event for the next few years which gives certainty to peoples planning.  The Gold Coast, which became obvious very early on in our trip, is basically the Mecca of Bowls with the best players in Australia playing there. The Open is played at around 16 different clubs of varying size…all have grass (called Tiff which is a very fine leaf, looks brown because it’s cut so low and is rolled to perfection and plays with hardly any flaws).  The clubs vary in size but the big ones such as Helensvale (which is about to undergo an 18 million dollar expansion) and Broadbeach are the main hubs and all the facilities are sensational on the back of poker machine money.

There are events for men, ladies, over 60’s and under 18’s in all the disciplines except triples and around 2000 players from all states enter.

There would have been 100 plus West Australians go across with some clubs like Mt Lawley having in excess of 15 players make it a club trip of sorts…certainly something Halls Head could easily arrange.

Stu and I arrived a couple of days before my singles games but you have the option of heading over a week or so earlier as there are plenty of local lead up events you can enter to acclimatise to the conditions.

We played at 4 different venues and although the weather was fantastic, given the rain Queensland had over the past six months, the grass greens were all much heavier than what we are used to playing on at Halls Head so it did take a bit of time to adjust.  Between 9 and 14 seconds is my guess.

Although neither of us got past the sectional stages some of the take away experiences we had are priceless.  I played a Queensland Premier League skipper in singles who gave me a lesson and towelled me up but who cares, Stu in his singles played a Victorian Premier League skipper who was a finalist in the BPL.  In our pairs we played against Scott Lucas who’s in the Australian squad (fantastic fella by the way) and in our fours it went down to the last shot which went against us otherwise we would have gotten through to the knock out stages.

None of the losses hurt, we just had a wonderful time.

For me it was a bit of a bucket list thing but I enjoyed it that much I’ll certainly be back.  For Stu it was a chance to look at the big wide world outside of Mandurah and if you have ever been to Surfers Paradise you will understand the initial culture shock for the big fella (We aren’t in Kansas anymore Toto!!).

We didn’t expect to make it to the second week so I had this covered with a holiday in Noosa and Stu was always heading back to Perth for work but for those that are retired an extended holiday before or afterwards would be the ideal scenario.

Cost wise it was about $550.00 for a return flight, $1500.00 a week for a two bedroom apartment overlooking the ocean but you can get more or less expensive options given The Gold Coast caters for so many tourists.  The car hire was expensive but we booked this late and if your organised and share it among a few people it works out ok and you have the flexibility to do what you want when you want.

If anyone is interested in wanting some more info just come and have a chat.  I reckon it’s one of the best things I’ve ever done and being a bowls head like most of us I encourage you to just do it as you will have a fantastic time with plenty of great stories to come away with.

You might even win a few games which is where Stu and I hope to improve next time round.

The take away from the trip for both of us is that it has raised the bar re our personal bowls expectations….we will come back better players having played and watched better players and in some ways we have put the Halls Head Bowls Club on the map as ambassadors who just enjoyed the games and had plenty of laughs with our opponents which I suppose is what it’s all about.

Wayne Langborne

Photo: Stu Anderson and Wayne Langborne post match with Wayne Waller and Matt Lucas who would go on to make the Oz Open Pairs semi final….happy we could give them the confidence boost to nearly go all the way.