In an effort to eliminate damage to greens from dropped balls, and to increase the time people can participate in the game, Bowls SA has introduced a new policy that allows players to use a ‘bowling arm’.
The Bowling Arm is a mechanical extension which holds the bowl closer to the ground, with the bowler triggering a release with either their thumb or entire hand (depending on the design) to bowl the ball.
President of Clare Bowling Club, Kevin Clarke, said carpeted greens such as the ones at Clare were more susceptible to damage than grass, and it was important dropping of the bowl was minimised for the club to maintain their investment.
Members of the SA Bowling Arms group travelled to Clare Bowling Club last week, playing social games with club members and demonstrating how the mechanism works.
There was keen interest in the devices, with visitors from Robertstown, Kadina Tarlee and Blyth coming along to have a try.
Chris Prow from Elizabeth Bowling Club said he had given up playing after having 13 operations on his spine, until someone from his club suggested he try the bowling arm.
Players who are unable to bend or have developed weakness in their arm or hand could benefit from the device.
“It is like starting again and takes a lot of practice, but I wouldn’t be able to play if I didn’t have one,” Mr Prow said.
A former top level player, Mr Prow had dropped to the lowest grade before giving up the game.
“It took me two years to get back in to the top side and now, three years on I am the skipper.”
He said the most difficult thing to learn was how to get the correct “weight” of the bowl.
The Bowling Arm extends the length of the arm to about double, which squares the amount of force behind the bowl.
There are three different brands of the Bowling Arm authorised for use in competitions, which come in a number of sizes or one design can be custom made to individual measurements.
Use of the Bowling Arm has not been approved for use in interstate or higher competitions, except with a medical certificate.
Mr Clarke said members played for both fitness and the social aspect of the game, and anything that encouraged people to continue with the sport would be a winner.