Bowls: Injured players get relief

Modern technology is helping keep Western Bay lawn bowlers doing what they love most - having a roll up at their local club greens.

A delivery arm, or mechanical arm as it is also referred to, allows the bowl to be delivered and picked up without bending down, which has meant bowlers suffering from joint problems and arthritis are able to play at social and competitive levels.

The devices are approved by Bowls New Zealand and other national bodies around the world and have made a positive lifestyle change for those who previously had to give up the sport.

Willie Burmester, who is both greenkeeper and coach at the Omokoroa Club and a former high-ranked bowler in Manawatu a few years back, says the devices have made a huge impact on prolonging how long bowlers can enjoy their sport. "I got local bowler Ross Barclay a delivery arm to try and showed him how to use it. I had a spare one so I went round to see Ross and his wife said to me that she has never seen him so happy because he finally knew he could do something rather than sitting inside."

Barclay agrees that the arm has enhanced his lifestyle greatly by enabling him to get back into sport again at his local Omokoroa club.

"My knees are shot so I am going to need a knee replacement in the next few months. I have only just taken up bowls and I couldn't have played without the arm. I can't bend down too well and would probably fall down. Now I can look forward to having a decent season and stay active playing bowls."

Wullie Burns has been enjoying bowls for six years and was facing the prospect of having to stop playing until he came across the delivery arm.

He has not worried about giving up ever since.

"I have two artificial hips and one of them gave up a few months ago as it is 12 years old, so now I can't bend without pain.

"So the arm means I can now play without pain and it is very, very easy to use. No trouble at all. I think if I had to put up with the pain for much longer I would not have continued playing."

Burmester says one other positive result of bowlers using the mechanical arm has been a reduction in the damage to bowling greens, particularly early in the season when the greens are soft.

"As people get older they have a bit of trouble with their hips, knees and back, and they start dropping the bowl.

"At the beginning of the season, when the grass is very wet, they make quite a hole in the ground. So for bowlers in that category it is excellent to use the arm."

- Bay of Plenty Times

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