A look at the 2019 bowls census

by jgrey

The ninth Bowls Australia national census report was released last month and it has collated data from 1,230 bowls clubs across the country, the report helps paint a picture about the overall state of our sport.

The response rate for this report has been lifted to 67 per cent, and as such, Bowls Australia says it believes that the data is even more reliable and requires less extrapolation of data for the missing clubs.

In many cases, the discussions that RBMs have had with their clubs in gathering this data has caused clubs to pause for thought around their participation trends and examine what they might be able to do better to drive more traffic across their greens.

BA believes the overall picture is encouraging in that participation in bowls continues to increase and offers further insight as to how our clubs may be able to take advantage of the opportunity shifting nature of this increased participation.

Unfortunately, the trend of declining formal membership (at 166,862) continues to decline but at a slower rate than previous years (-0.7%) – the decline has been slowed somewhat by the introduction of new membership options by Clubs and STAs (e.g. NightOwls members in SA).

While formal membership continues to decrease the overall participation of people who play four or more games per year has increased by 1.6 per cent since 2018 and now totals 693,563.

There has also been a continued increase in social participation of 2.6 per cent, however, there has been a slower than recent trend decrease in formal competitive participation (-0.6%).

On a more positive note there has been a large increase in the number of bowls experiences, people who step onto the green at least once a year, to 1,260,121, the increase was also partly a case of underreporting in previous reports, particularly in NSW.

The 1.26M experiences are in addition to the 693K of semi-regular participants.