State and Territory champions from across the country will soon vie for national titles, as the returning Australian Championships descend on Merimbula.
The event returns to the calendar after a 12-year hiatus, having last been played at Harbord, NSW in 2004.
Merimbula’s Club Sapphire has secured the rights to stage the competition for three years, with the first edition scheduled to be played from November 28 to December 1, 2017.
All eight State and Territory Association’s singles, pairs, triples and fours champions will be awarded entry into the event annually, with up to 160 competitors shaping the field.
The event boasts a rich history, dating back to 1979 when it was first played in Melbourne, but seemingly went into hibernation following the creation of the Australian Open in 2005.
Bowls Australia CEO Neil Dalrymple said the re-inclusion of the event on the national stage will once again provide a pathway for state and territory winners.
“The Australian Championships is a worthy inclusion on the sport’s calendar, and will provide an opportunity for players to progress from their respective state and territory championships to compete for coveted national titles,” Dalrymple said.
“Club Sapphire have been hand-picked to host this event for the next three years, which is a resounding endorsement on the quality of their newly upgraded facilities and eagerness to host one of the sport’s most prestigious tournaments.”
Club Sapphire CEO Damien Foley said recent developments at the club make it the ideal venue to host the newly re-introduced event.
“We at Club Sapphire Merimbula take great pride in developing the sport of bowls, both in our region, in New South Wales and on the national stage,” Mr Foley said.
“We’ve recently undertaken significant renovation and refurbishment of our facilities, which include a covered 15 rink carpet greens facility and viewing deck, as well as a number of other areas within the club, such as our dining facilities.
“Given the opportunity, we are confident we can provide a fantastic product as host venue for this prestigious event.”
Club Sapphire will take centre stage this week as it plays host to the Victoria v New South Wales in the interstate test series tomorrow and Wednesday.
Further information about the Australian Championships will be released closer to the event.
The new facility opened last week and has already hosted the NSW and Victorian state teams in a State of Origin clash.
Club Sapphire’s bowling development officer Michael Wilks said the greens are “state-of-the-art”.
“We've had the best players in Australia on this and the feedback was it was one of the best greens in the nation,” he said.