IF bowling numbers across the land have dwindled a little this season, someone forgot to tell the Linton and District Bowling Club.
While other clubs in the Ballarat District Bowls Division have remained steady at best, or have even struggled to fill the ranks, Linton has 15 new bowlers this season – virtually a new side.
They include former premier division bowler Aaron Cook and ex-division one bowler Rod Hetherington.
That has allowed Linton to add another complete side in division eight.
“It’s great we have three divisions now, in three, six and eight, which is the most we’ve had as a club,” Linton president Craig Grenfell says.
“I can’t put my finger on one particular reason. We have people who have come here from other clubs, we’ve also got others who are new to the sport.
“I’d like to think they’ve seen us pushing forward and want to be a part of it. People at the club have been dragging others in as well, just like footy clubs I guess.
“We’ve revitalised the club and that’s brought new people in.”
Cook, 36, is probably the biggest name of the arrivals.
A premier division bowler at Sebastopol for three seasons after crossing from another of the BDBD’s big clubs (Webbcona) after 14 years, Cook is enjoying the slower pace offered by a smaller country club.
“I moved out to Scarsdale a couple of years ago. As well as being close to home Linton was a club that was well respected by everyone I spoke with,” Cook says.
“I was coming back after a couple of years off playing. I’d been playing 17 years straight and needed a break.
“I wanted to come back to bowls at a level that wasn’t as competitive and as much pressure as premier division.
“I wanted to enjoy the sport for what it is without the win-win-win attitude. That’s premier division full stop. It is win first, enjoyment second. At Linton it is the other way around.
“Over the last couple of years there have been a couple of people who have been driving the improvement at the club, lifting the surrounds, and recruiting players, such as Craig Grenfell and Tony Walker.
“One of the other reasons I went there is the synthetic green is far and away the best synthetic playing surface in the district.”
Cook says there are still plenty of good players in division three because it is still some clubs’ highest division.
“It’s nowhere near what I’m used to in premier but it’s still pretty competitiive,” he says.
Apart from Cook and Hetherington (formerly of East Ballarat), Linton’s recruits from other clubs include: Doug Hucker (Learmonth), John Fox and Alan Blair both from Skipton, Phil Blake and Mal McRaild from Sebastopol, Tim Wilson and Nick Pierce of East Ballarat, and Steve Campbell (Ballarat).
The new bowlers are Chris Walters, Darren Brown, Danny Pridham, James Rayner and Ben Ronan.
Linton’s division three side will travel to Learmonth tomorrow.