Bowling was first considered as part of the Golf Club when the property adjoining the Golf Clubhouse owned by the late Mrs Creswick came up for auction.
At the auction, the Golf Club had a limit of $85,000 as their highest bid, this was not sufficient to purchase the property which was sold to Mr Guthrie. Had the Golf Club been successful in acquiring the property the Bowling Green could have been adjacent to the Golf Clubhouse with the facilities available to Golfers and Bowlers.
Bowls were forgotten for a time till the St Andrews land was purchased by the Golf Club for $150,000.
Prior to the purchase by the Golf Club, the St Andrews Guest House was bought, demolished and the land subdivided for residential development. The Developer ran into problems when access was not permitted from the Esplanade. The proposal to use Dudley St which ran through the 18th green and across the 1st fairway was not very popular. The Developer subsequently sold to Mr D Jennings who in turn sold to the Golf Club.
The $150,000 for the purchase was raised with debentures to the Golf Club Members. This was repaid with the proceeds from the sale of land in Bass St, adjacent to the 10th fairway, which more than covered the debenture repayment.
The purchase of the St Andrews land solved the Golf Club problem with Dudley St and the section of concern has been closed. It is now part of Bass Park. A proposal for a major development on the site was submitted to the Golf Club Committee and rejected. The site remained virtually untouched except for moving the 2nd tee back to lengthen the 2nd hole.
A group of Golf Club Members decided to investigate the possibility of Bowls becoming part of the Golf Club to enable Members physically unable to play golf to continue their association with the Club.
A meeting was held on the 24th of June 1981 at 7 Spindrift Ave Flinders attended by R Alexander, G Balcke, G Bownas, M Eddy, K Eden, J Halliwell, V Locket, H Richmond and H Smith.
It was agreed that the Golf Club Committee be approached to approve Bowls as part of the Club. The Committee would not approve of Bowls but with persistence they agreed to put it to the Members by means of a postal vote.
The result being 259 in favour of Bowls and 218 against Bowls.
A poll was taken on how the Bowls should be financed. The first proposal that all Golf Club Members pay $7 per year for 3 years giving full bowls rights was rejected with 176 votes for and 290 against.
The second proposal that the Members interested in Bowls were to pay all establishment and operating costs. This was accepted with 274 votes for and 181 against. If Bowling was to be part of the Golf Club it had to be on this basis.
The next step was to approach the Golf Club for a location to build the green. They suggested a site on the left hand corner at the entrance from the road to the bowls and visitor car park. As this corner was owned by the Shire of Flinders, the Bowls Group needed to negotiate with the Shire for use of part of their land or for the Shire to give the land to the Golf Club.
This meant many letters to the Shire that were leading nowhere.
A meeting was arranged on the site with a Representative from the Shire and the Bowls Group. The Shire Representative was not in favour of using the block for Bowls and was opposed to the required removal of trees.
To proceed from this point the group decided on a notice of motion at the Annual General Meeting of the Golf Club. This was proposed by Sir William Hall and seconded by Keith Eden that “A Bowling Green be established on the St Andrews Land”. This was agreed to by the Members with a big majority.
There is sufficient area for three greens on the St Andrews land, so a meeting was arranged between the Golf Club President at the time, Mr W Juler, V Locket and H Richmond to decide which of the three sites could be used for bowls. The best position for a green was the guest house site, the present bowling green. On being informed by a member of the Golf Club Committee that the guest house site was out as far as bowling was concerned, it was decided to request the use of the middle site. At the meeting the middle site was requested only to be told there was no way the middle site could be used for bowls and if there was to be bowls it would have to be on the guest house site. There was no further argument.
Estimates of cost at $10,000 and how it could be financed were submitted to the Golf Club. This figure was ridiculed by some Members of the
Committee, without justification, as tests had been taken of the soil by Turf
Research and found suitable for growing fine grass. This meant no cost for top soil and being well drained no scoria required. These are the major costs in the construction of most bowling greens.
This was a critical meeting of the Golf Club Committee for the establishment of Bowls. The Treasurer at the time John Classon supported the estimates submitted and by doing so getting the approval of the Committee for the Bowls to proceed. The Bowls Club is indebted to John Classon.
Hearing that the Yarrawonga Golf Club was pulling a bowling green up, the Bowls Group and interested Members made an offer of $1,000 for the ditches. This offer was accepted and a trip to Yarrawonga was arranged to dig them up and organise transport to Flinders. The working party of R Alexander, M Eddy, J Freeman, H Richmond, H Smith and J Turner spent a weekend of really hard work.
The Steward at the Golf Club remarked “Look at the way these geriatrics can work, they would leave our ground staff for dead”. The ditches were transported to Flinders on a semi-trailer and stored on a block at the side of the tenth fairway owned by J Freeman. This was before the Golf Club Members voted for the bowls. The Bowls Group could have sold the ditches and doubled their investment as Balnarring and Mt Martha were interested in purchasing them.
The Bowls Group were confident of bowls in Flinders, preferably combined with the Golf Club. A Member of the Golf Club Committee questioned the right of the Bowls Group to purchase the ditches and store them on Jack Freeman’s block. The ditches were financed by the Bowls Group and other interested Members of the Golf Club. The money was repaid as credited joining fees and subscriptions when the bowls started. Buying the ditches from Yarrawonga meant a saving of over $4,000 thus enabling the bowling green to be constructed for less than $2,000.
To finance the bowls an approach was made to Golf Club Members who were interested to contribute $120, this covered a $40 joining fee and subscriptions for two years at $40 per year or a lesser amount on the same basis. An amount of $5,250 was raised, helped by Members not intending to play bowls giving donations.
At this stage, only Golf Club Members could join the bowls, this meant that anyone wishing to play bowls and not being a Member, needed to apply for Membership, go on a waiting list for three years or more, pay $250 joining fee plus the golf annual subscription then pay a bowls joining fee and annual subscription. Financially and with the long waiting list this discouraged local membership. The Bowls Group hoped that time would sort this problem out. Bowls membership later became possible by paying the Golf Club joining fee $250 in five instalments without going on the Golf Club waiting list and not paying the Golf Club subscription. Further changes in 1993 allowed a limited number to join the Bowls from outside the Golf Club by paying a Bowls Club joining fee instead of the Golf Club joining fee. This enables the Bowls Club to operate on the same basis as most other Bowls Clubs.
Plans of the green were submitted to the Shire for a Permit to start construction. The plan showed a fence on the boundary that the Shire objected to, suggesting it be moved back 6 metres.
This meant moving the green closer to the 2nd tee. New plans were submitted on the 12th of July 1982 without a fence and were approved by the Shire on 11th August 1982. The toilet facilities proposed on the plan were the original golf green fee toilets.
These were not of very high standard and during the first year of bowls, bowlers of both sexes seemed to find alternatives.
The toilets served their purpose in having the plans passed.
Work on the green started the day after the plans were approved with levelling equipment hired from Clarrie Jennings of Rye. The guest house had been demolished leaving many surprises under the ground, chimney foundations, pipes, stumps, drains and underground tanks causing more work than anticipated.
The ditches were installed and the levelling completed ready to sow the seed in March 1983, with assistance from Alan Vance.
When bowls started we soon found that some form of shelter was required, so a small building in the Main Street was purchased. It was an Estate Agent’s office used by Knaggs and Company. This was purchased for approximately $75 and the cost of transporting to the site $200, (if moved under suitable dry conditions). A verandah was attached for additional shelter. This was the original Clubhouse fitted out with stove, wash basin and cupboards. Seats were installed under the verandah to accommodate visiting pennant teams and for the provision of afternoon teas on bowls days. This was very nice in fine weather but was uncomfortable in bad weather.
Plans were drawn up by Mr C Baldwin and the toilets were constructed and ready for use at the opening of the 1984 season at a cost of approximately $4,000.
On 30th November 1983, it was agreed that green fees be accepted at $1 per visitor. Sunday competitions to cost Members 50 cents including afternoon tea.
The F.G.B. Club was accepted as an associate Club of the F.B.A. on the7th of September 1983 at Carrington Park. This was also the first Year of the Flinders B.A. following the splitting of the Peninsula B.A.
A Committee was elected in 1983 to get the Bowls up and running with the task of affiliating with the F.B.A. and the R.V.B.A., drawing up rules, Club badges and hat band design, also the liaison with the Golf Club.
The Inaugural Committees were:-
H Richmond (Chairman)
J Halliwell (Sec/Treasurer)
O Commons (Chair Woman)
D Earl (Secretary)
A Cowan (Treasurer)
J Halliwell resigned in October 1983 and J Price was appointed to replace him as Sec/Treasurer. R Kay was appointed Competition Secretary for 1983-84
Other Ladies in attendance at the Inaugural Meeting were R Atkins President of the P.D.L.B.A., J Pegler Secretary P.D.L.B.A., A Bownas, J Crook, K Kay, B Lister, C Misson and J Pike.
Jim King President F.B.A. and Rita King also attended.
The Club badge design came from the statue of Matthew Flinders outside St Paul’s Cathedral Melbourne. A photo of the statue was taken by K Eden and given to the badge manufacturer to make a die at a cost of $160 plus 20% sales tax. Badges at $1.40 each plus 20% tax, sold to members for $2.
The first opening of the green was held on 27th November 1983 but Members had been bowling from the start of September.
The green was officially opened by the President of the F.B.A. Jim King who, with Alan Vance, gave great assistance in the construction of the green and the forming of the Club.
The Ladies were represented by the President of the P.D.L.B.A. Rene Atkins. The Ladies joined the F.B.A. in 1984.
The First Annual Meeting was held Friday 25th May 1984 for the adoption of rules (printed by Mr Les Lister) followed by the election of Office Bearers according to the rules. The first Annual Meetings of the Ladies and Mens sections were held at the conclusion of the F.G.B.C. Meeting.
The first Committee elected under the rules consisted of:-
H Richmond (Chairman)
R Earl (Secretary)
O Commons (Chairwoman)
D Earl (Secretary)
E Eddy (Vice Chair)
B Wynne (Vice Chair)
A Cowan (Treasurer)
The F.G.B.C. Committee being all Men became the Mens Section Committee. Under the Rules, the main Committee of Management, being the Flinders Golf Bowls Club Committee, can be made up of Members of both sexes having the responsibility for the finances, expenses, the running of the Clubhouse and liaison with the Golf Club.
The Ladies Section Committee control the competitions and Bowls for the Ladies. The Mens Section Committee control the competitions and Bowls for the Men.
In 1985 the building of a new Clubhouse was considered.
Approval was given by the Golf Club to proceed with all costs to be paid by the Bowls Club. Plans were drawn up to fit the windows purchased in anticipation of a Clubhouse from the Flinders Cricket Club for $500.00. The windows were stored in a shed at Mr D Stephen’s property until they were needed. The plans were passed by the Shire in August 1985. An offer to donate the roofing material was made by Mr N Fletcher at a cost of $1,500 which was much appreciated.
The brick work was completed in April 1986 and the Clubhouse was ready for the start of the 1986 season. The building was constructed for approximately $10,500. To be ready for use at the start of the season it was necessary to finance the furnishings and finishing touches with debentures. These were interest free and were generously supported by the Members to an amount of $12,500. The debentures have been paid back to the contributing Members. The Clubhouse was extended to accommodate a bar and competition office in 1991.
During the first few years the consumption of alcohol at the Bowls Club was against the liquor laws. It was frowned on by some of the Golf Club Committee which was hard to understand seeing that green fee golfers could drink in the visitors car park. The problem was overcome once the Clubhouse was completed and the Golf Club licence extended to cover the bowls area. This has been very satisfactory to the Golf and the Bowls Clubs.
The first Pennant teams were entered for the season 1984-85. The Men in Division 5 and the Ladies in Division 5.
Being new bowlers and believing they were playing against champions, the Men finished the season on the bottom of the ladder. Gaining confidence in the 1985-86 season lead to the winning of the first F.G.B.C. pennant – 5th Division. Promoted to the 4th Division for the 1986-87 season the Team performed reasonably well and improvement in the 1987-88 season saw the Club’s second pennant – 4th Division. Rising to 3rd Division for the 1988-89 season with a good performance then improving in the 1989-90 season to win another pennant – 3rd Division.
Since then in Division 2 the Team has performed well enough to worry the top teams but not able to win another pennant.
The Ladies started Pennant in 1984 with one team in Division 5 and with good bowling worked their way up to Division 3.
The top team came close to a pennant on two occasions playing in two finals but was unable to grasp the flag finishing runners-up both times. The Division 5 Team was more successful in the season of 1990-91 winning the first and only pennant for the Ladies.