The Eden Gardens Country Club played host to one leg of a mammoth Guinness World Record attempt on Monday, with Frank Peniguel on a journey to set the record for ‘the most lawn bowls clubs played at by an individual in 12 months’.
Eden marked the first NSW stop for the 70-year-old resident of Daylesford in country Victoria, and club number 144 in his attempt to bowl at 600-900 clubs before January 10, 2015.
Frank said he began bowling in Canberra 14 years ago, and is aiming to use the trip to raise the public profile of bowls and bring in new members.
“Prior to when I retired last year, I bought a kombi van and thought it would be a nice idea for me to travel around the country, and have a game here and there,” Frank said.
“And then one day, strangely enough all my good ideas come in the shower, I thought, ‘Why don’t I check to see if there is a Guinness World Record, and see if I can help promote bowls and get as much publicity as possible and try and attract some new members’.
“I eventually submitted a plan because there had been nothing of the sort done, and after many months we finally agreed on a template.
“If anybody was going to set a record, I thought it should be in Australia, and if anyone wants to come by and beat it, they’re welcome.”
Along with two witnesses to every game he plays, Frank also needs to provide video evidence; something that is right up his alley after a career in film and television.
Each game consists of 10 ends of four bowls each, with one mat and two jacks used to speed up the process.
Frank will head as far north as Cooktown in Queensland, in an emotional return to the place where he worked briefly in 1961, before moving inland to start his descent through central Queensland and NSW, then diverting into South Australia and then to Tasmania.
He said it is critical to attract new members to the sport, as 16 per cent of bowlers over 70 stop playing each year.
“I think we should individually replace ourselves,” Frank said.
“Everybody over 70 should find someone to work on, as I’m doing myself with two 47-year-old men, just trying to get them to just get there and start.
“I joined a club in Canberra but didn’t bowl for two years, and then suddenly I thought, ‘Well I should try it’, and I loved it.
“This is my legacy.”
Eden Men’s Bowls Club president Gil Nielsen echoed Frank’s sentiments, saying he hoped the record attempt would help boost falling numbers.
The club has just over 100 registered bowls members, in a slight drop from last year, but Gil said the club is working on attracting new, younger participants.
“What Frank’s doing is good for bowls in general, and it gets a bit of advertising around the country,” Gil said.
“Numbers for bowls clubs are down everywhere, and there have been a few clubs going under, so it’s great for bowls and for our club to have Frank here for a bit of fun.
“I think it will help get people involved for sure, and an important thing that people should realise now is that the game of bowls has changed.
“It’s no longer and old peoples’ sport; it’s for people of all ages.
“We’ve got people as young as 10 playing bowls and coming through the ranks, which is a great way to keep the sport up and running.”