ONE of the region's most prestigious bowls tournaments will start as scheduled next week despite an infestation of the scale insect, ground pearl.
Club Maroochy Bowls Club - formerly Maroochydore Beach Bowls Club before a merger last January with the Maroochydore Swan club - will host the $8000 New Year Prestige Singles tournament from Boxing Day.
The event has been a constant on the bowls calendar since 1975, but an anticipated field of up to 160 in the men's competition has had to be cut to 80 because of the damage by the burrowing insect, which sucks fluid from the root system of the grass greens and leaves them looking weak, thin, yellow and drought stressed.
The club anticipates three of its four greens will be back in action for the 2013 Winter Bowls Carnival and is to spend about $40,000 to fully redevelop its front playing surface.
The Prestige Singles will run continuously from Boxing Day until the finals on January 1, on the one remaining green. Fortunately, it is in top condition.
Local sponsors include the Maroochy RSL, Bowler's Paradise, COZmedics, Maroochy Surf Club and Lion Nathan XXXX.
The men's event has attracted a top field, with reigning champion Richard Strawbridge, from Bribie Island, defending his title. Past winners in Fred Diamond, Frank Vella and Peter Leon, a former state singles champion, are also expected to be strong contenders.
The women's event will follow from January 2 and has attracted a 32-strong field including dual champion Samantha Wilson, past winner Marilyn Emerton and Masters Games champions Jane Bush and Carol Williams.
The women's competition starts with sectional play on January 2, with the finals scheduled for Saturday, January 5.
The merged Club Maroochy is a vibrant bowling club that boasts more than 400 members.
Bowls are played seven days a week in divisions for mixed, women and men. Barefoot social bowls is also available.
Free coaching is available for new players. The club can be contacted on 5443 1307.
- BILL HOFFMAN