Mairangi Bay’s feat in providing the two men’s finalists for the recent Bowls North Harbour Winter Cup competition could not have been more appropriate.
For it helped mark the 10th anniversary of the passing of a club stalwart, Don Gillespie, who was the instigator of the special format, “Bonus fours,” under which the Winter Cup is run.
Gillespie, who died in 2011, was noted for his entrepreneurial flair and devised a competition in which in a four the lead and two had even more responsibility than the crucial roles they have in any form of bowls. As well as looking for novel ways to play the game, Gillespie was prominent in promoting bowls to the young, launching a programme at Rangitoto College.
On each end, under Gillespie’s “Bonus fours,” the two bowls of each of the lead and two are measured before the threes and fours have played, and points or shots are awarded which count in the overall score. If a team has one bowl closest to the jack an extra point is awarded and if it’s two bowls closest then it’s two points.
Almost invariably the eventual winning team is that which has had the edge in bonus points.
In winning this year’s Winter Cup, the four of Peter Orgias, Ron Horne, Phil Chisholm and Allan Langley graphically illustrated what Gillespie was trying to achieve: the importance of front-end bowlers especially in fours, and the need for accurate draw bowls.
Orgias, who skipped the winning team, said it was blessed by having two excellent players up front in Chisholm and Langley, both of whom have been Harbour junior representatives. But he pointed out that playing draw bowls was also the strength of Horne and himself.
In the final the Orgias side beat club-mates, Leon Wech, Brian Nolan, Rick George and David Payne 24-19. Mairangi’s depth was further shown with Payne a replacement for an unavailable Kevin Cameron and with a third team from the club,
skipped by Jim Price, in post-section play.
In the semi-finals the Orgias four beat Denham Furnell’s Manly and the Wech four beat a strong Orewa line-up skipped by Walter Howden and which included other centre title-holders in Bruce McClintock and Murray Vallance.
Orgias rated the win, and the fact Mairangi had three teams in the last eight, as one of his most satisfying experiences in bowls. He only started playing 11 years ago because his body was having difficulty coping with his first love, golf, in which he once played off scratch.
But he now finds he enjoys bowls almost as much as golf and like many who have made the switch finds a golf background helps get the right weight and green in bowls because of similarities to putting.
Orewa also had a quinella in the women’s competition’s round-robin. Elaine McClintock, Jan Harrison, Irene Donaldson and Kerin Roberts were first and in second place were Maureen Howden, Val Taylor, Christeen Dalzell and Mary Wright.
Gillespie’s Bonus fours concept is also used in North Harbour’s Cadness Cup summer inter-club competition. However, among some traditionalists and sticklers for the letter of rules, it has had its critics and a few years ago there was an attempt to have it outlawed.
On this occasion, though, its considerable popularity with bowlers themselves prevailed over the pedantic and the format has continued to thrive.