World's best to bowl for glory at Australian Open
AFTER moving to the sunny Gold Coast in 2015, the Australian Open has become a true festival of bowls, with 14 days of action played across the 15 host clubs.
More than 2000 bowlers from across Australia, and indeed the world, are expected to turn up this June, with entry open to any registered bowler.
Not only is the Australian Open the world's biggest bowls festival, it is also the richest bowls event with more than $250,000 prize money.
Competition days are from June 9 to 22 with the major event hub at Broadbeach Bowls Club.
Mermaid Beach Bowls Club, however, is also playing a part.
It'll host a two-day carnival in the lead-up to the main event, on June 7 and 8.
Ladies' president Betty Ronnfeldt will be playing in the open for the first time, with her sister Margaret Panousis.
"We're playing in the ladies' fours with two Toowoomba girls," Betty said.
"We have been playing more to try and improve our skills.
"It's good exercise, walking up and down the greens.
"Bowls is a game you'll never perfect.
"If you bowl a bad bowl, you don't get a second go."
Betty moved to the Gold Coast club two years ago after many years of involvement with clubs in Toowoomba and on the Darling Downs.
Her sister Margaret played in the open last year.
"It was great ... marvellous, the experience of meeting so many people from different areas," Margaret said.
"This year, I'm only playing in the pairs and the fours.
"Last year I played in the singles and the over-60s pairs."
Bowls has been a passion for Margaret since she began playing in 2000.
"I play four or five days a week, even more," she said.
"I think you meet a lot of people and it gets you out of the house."
Games director Ian Keleher says the Australian Open brings more players and spectators to the Mermaid Beach club, and encourages friendship.
Members are particularly proud of the quality of the club's greens.
Find out all about the Australian Open 2018 at australianopen.bowlsaustralia.com.au.
SEG140518yvonmermaid1 Mermaid Beach Bowls Club games director Ian Keleher, ladies' president Betty Ronnfeldt (centre) and player Margaret Panousis gear up for the Australian Open 2018.
Photo: Yvonne Gardiner