Club Story - Grant Park Bowling Club

Try Bowls Club Grant Park BC have come up with a unique way of introducing non-bowlers to their club and the sport of bowls. Bob Cutts from the club sent us through some information on a loyalty card that the club have introduced as an incentive scheme for new members. We also find out about community fundraising and the clubs’ use of social media to advertise to local residents.

The loyalty card contains information and contact details for the club as well as offering newcomers five free visits to the club to try bowls. Find out more about the clubs’ successful Try Bowls season, in our Q&A below…

Tell us about the clubs’ Loyalty Card and how the idea for it came about?

“We needed to be able to attract new members and get our name out there and everyone likes a bargain. Most people have a phone, and a lot of people are used to the loyalty card concept in coffee shops and the like and nearly everyone hates junk mail/flyers. Flyers are costly to get printed and then they need people to go door to door and deliver them only for them to be consigned to the recycling bin."

Where the loyalty card differs; as previously stated people like a bargain, so include all your clubs’ details on it plus FREE VISITS now you have something that spikes interest. It's small enough to be put in the back of a phone case or wallet/purse and not just thrown away. Cost per 100 cards was £11.95 plus postage, so it was affordable for the club to introduce.” 

Has the loyalty card been popular?

"Yes! All members have a couple of cards in their wallets or phones and hand them out to anyone who shows interest. Many stop to watch over the fence whilst we are playing, and we have successfully used the card to attract members. When we run a Try Bowls event, if we sense a real interest then we give them a card. With the free goes it gives them a chance to come again 4 or 5 times and ensure bowls is the sport for them. We have attracted several members this year through the cards. Some of our members say "but we are losing money!" but if they did not come, you wouldn't have the chance to attract them as paying members, so they can now see the benefit of this idea.”

Why is important to the club to introduce the wider community to our sport?

"Our sport is niche and it doesn't get the exposure other sports do. We are part of the community so we need to help those that don't have a sport they can call theirs and show them that bowls is the sport for them. It truly is a sport for all: young, old, able bodied and those with physical challenges where all genders can play with or against each other with no real handicap.”

In addition to the club’s loyalty scheme for Try Bowls, Grant Park are also raising funds for new equipment for both junior and senior members via the Tesco Community Fund Scheme which we asked Bob to tell us more about…

“We are hoping to get some funds from the Tesco Community Fund; this scheme is run up and down the country and each store specific to their area, will pick worthy schemes from those who apply with a chance to get funding or £500.00 or £1000.00 or £1500.00. We are applying for equipment to use when running the try bowls events and active schools programs to include cones, Bocca sets (soft balls) targets and we also want to obtain 2 throwing arms to assist those senior members who come to help extend their ability to continue bowling, we have a member in their 90s! Finally we’re hoping to get banners to advertise our try bowls events. We applied for the scheme online, submitting our reasons we were asking for funding, the forms are easy to follow and assistance is there if needed."

Why has the club chosen to target both younger and older bowlers with this fundraising?

"WHY NOT?! We are all living longer and those in later years need to be kept active, when you can no longer play football or swing a golf club you need a sport, both for physical and mental wellbeing. As for the young, too often just because they don't like chasing a ball or running, they are side lined but here is a sport where they are outside in the fresh air and play a sport where the only boundary is how far they want to take it.”

Grant Park have also announced this season via their Facebook page, an extension to their playing hours to allow evening sessions as well as daytime sessions. This change sees the club return to more ‘normal’ operating hours that were in place before the pandemic and ensures that as a Try Bowls club the sport is accessible to as many people as possible. We asked why the club extended their hours this season and whether this has been a popular change…

“Pre-Covid we did open one or two nights but with Covid numbers dwindled away as did the membership (the same story we have heard a lot of lately.) So with the drive for new members, we decided to open every night except Sundays with the proviso that if no one shows by 6-45pm, a message would be put out on our WhatsApp group which all members are invited to join and we post all events and any notes on as well as Facebook. The evening opening helps those younger members who are at work and those that have appointments during the day and helps us play the ties in our internal competitions. This means we are also seen to be active with the potential of attracting new members and most importantly Monday night is our Hat Night when we run a fun competition night of doubles or triples and all abilities are mixed in with each other. We do a free raffle on Hat Night for just 2 small prizes (donated by members) for all attending. This has been a great success with the majority of members attending each week. This a re-introduction of what used to happen pre-pandemic.” 

Grant Park hope to have some new members on board from their Try Bowls event this summer as the loyalty card is proving a popular way for folk to have a go at the sport before making the commitment to join as members. Numbers attending in 2023 were relatively low due to other events on in the town at the same time, but the club hopes to run another event next season and will select a date with no other community activities to try to maximise attendance.

Thanks to Bob for providing such useful insight on Grant Park’s Try Bowls Season, we wish the club every success as it continues to engage with the local community and expand its membership in the future. Clubs wishing to find out more about Try Bowls can click here.

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