Small plot keeps local bowls rolling

Corrina RidgwayCountryman

Local bowls are rolling smoothly after 32 hectares of community crop recently helped to fund Scaddan's superficial bowling green.

The 2011 Scaddan Country Club green replacement was partially funded by revenue from land that has been vested with the club since the 1970s.

Owned by the Shire of Esperance, the small plot has provided stability for the club, allowing members to undertake major improvements and assisting in securing other grants.

Although available to crop for more than four decades, it has only been in the past four years that the plot has been fully cropped.

"Before that, it sometimes ran sheep or was partially cropped," club president Frank Stone said.

The crop is sown and harvested by a club-appointed farm manager.

The club pays the manager a contract price for work undertaken, while town businesses donate finances and products towards the costs of growing the crop.

With the necessity to raise lump capital for green replacement, the community crop has proven to be fruitful.

"We definitely would have struggled to finance the green without it," club secretary Trish Stone said.

The synthetic green required a one-third cash input, upfront, from the club, coupled with a one-third injection from a State sporting and recreational grant. A further third was lent to the club.

"Without the crop, it would have been a lot harder to get the initial grant too, because we needed to show the cash in hand," Ms Stone said.

The crop is also responsible for paying back the sum loaned.

"As part of the funding application we had to prove that the club was sustainable and show how we could pay for the loan," Ms Stone said.

"The community crop is part of what allowed us to address that point successfully and secure it."

The club rooms are the only sporting facility in the area.

They provide a meeting point for the wider community, drawing members from as far afield as Salmon Gums, Grass Patch, Gibson and Norseman.

"The Scaddan Bowling Club is quite a strong and vibrant club for a country area," Mr Stone said.

Up to four days a week during summer, the rooms emanate a gentle hum of activity as the bowling calendar is played out.

"The facilities are also used by the golf club during the winter. Local businesses use it on occasion for events, as does the local primary school and fire brigade," Mr Stone said.

Socially, the facility is the centre of the community.

"Like any sporting club, if there is nowhere for people to socialise there is no social fabric," Mr Stone said.

It also allows ex-farmers and friends to garner a sense of belonging. "We have a lot of members from the older age bracket. They come up to play but it also allows them to keep in contact with the family and the community," Mr Stone said.

Now the all-weather synthetic surface means bowls can be played year round. It may prove to be a bonus for the club, which manages to raise "a considerable amount" in green fees, catering and bar sales.

"It's surprising how much you raise from those sources," Ms Stone said. "We also have a good level of sponsorship as well."

The synthetic surface has also cut out greenkeeping expenses.

As for the future of the community crop?

"We've put in the crop this season to pay back the loan, we'll see what we do after that," Mr Stone said.

For now, the possibility of year- round bowls may allow for a few more elbows to be rested on the dark timbers of the corner bar while enjoying a quiet one in the company of old mates.

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