DONNY Whitefield first made his appearance at the Ballarat Bowling Club when he was only a baby in his father’s arms.
Although it may not have been the first time he walked on to the green, it was the start of a great relationship between him and the club.
Whitefield first started playing bowls while working as a electrician and maintenance supervisor at the Malthouse when he was 19 years old and would play on their trade nights.
In 1963 he joined Wendouree Bowls Club, where he lived just around the corner. In 1970 he became a part of Webbcona Bowls Club, one of the foundation committee members.
At the end of the 1974-75 season, Whitefield moved to Ballarat Bowling Club where he remains.
“I was always going to end up at Ballarat though – I started coming here as a baby in arms,” he said.
“I remember coming in to the club and not being able to see over the billiard tables.”
Although playing for many years, the now 75-year-old only started playing the game seriously in the mid-80s, when his impressive career as a bowler took off.
He has played in the premier division, including coming runner up in the premierships when Ballarat-Geelong pennant was formed and division one, placed runner-up in a club singles championship going down by one shot, and has won the club pairs.
“I’ve only missed one pennant season – my arthritis got to my shoulder too much and I had to give it away for one year.”
Although playing for many years, he has only ever won one pennant premiership.
“You play for more than 30 years and you only get one – they’re really hard to get. That was division five in 2004-05,” he said.
“The other team was three shots up in the last end - we ended up drawing the second shot to win the game by one. If we didn’t make that shot we would have lost.”
He is a division four skipper now.
But to the club, Whitefield is more than a bowler.
He has served endlessly committees and for years has been ‘king of the barbie’ – regularly firing up the barbecue at different club events and meetings.
“I don’t mind cooking up a feast,” he said. We’ve got the best and the biggest barbecue out of all the clubs in the area.”
Bowls isn’t the only sport Whitefield is actively involved in. Next week, he’ll be playing in the local snooker grand final.
He also spends about two months a year on the Darling River chasing fish, wild goats and rabbits.