Mount Maunganui is set to host one of the most prestigious events on the bowls calendar, with about 600 competitors facing off over four days - including some of the biggest names in the sport.
The Bowls New Zealand National Fours tournament gets under way across the Bay of Plenty on Thursday, February 27, with finals to be played at the Mount Maunganui Bowling Club on the Sunday, March 1.
As part of the four-day tournament Mount Maunganui Bowling Club secretary treasurer Garrick Hamlyn says the event will feature about 90 men's teams and 60 women's combinations, comprising about 600 bowlers.
"It's a bit of work but it's good fun and we're pleased to have the opportunity to take the tournament on," Hamlyn says.
The line-up includes some of the best bowlers in the sport, he says, including Peter Bellis, Shannon McIlroy and Gary Lawson.
"He's won more New Zealand titles than any other player," he says of Lawson's 13 titles.
Locally, there are is some quality talent that will be on display during the tournament, he says.
Hamlyn says most players from Bay of Plenty clubs are playing with their club members or in composite teams with members from other Bay clubs.
Among them is Nicholas Tomsett, from Mount Maunganui, who has just had an outstanding run in the National Singles competition, reaching the semifinals.
Tauranga's Lance Tasker will be playing with Bellis, having featured in four winning teams between 2000-2017. Tasker has also won New Zealand Pairs titles with Bellis.
In the women's competition, Mandy Boyd is skipping a composite team and has a strong history of success in the competition - she's won the last two years, as well as previously in 2014 and 2016.
While Mount will host the national competition, games will be played across the Bay of Plenty, including at the Arawa, Ngongotahā, Rotorua, Mount Maunganui, Te Puke, Tauranga South, Tauranga and Matua bowling clubs.
In Rotorua, Arawa Bowling Club will be hosting games on two greens while Rotorua and Ngongotahā bowling clubs will each have one green being used.
Arawa club president Tom Mackenzie said it was great for the Rotorua clubs to be involved in such a big event.
"It's the first time it's happened since I've been here and I've been here about 22 years now, it doesn't come to the Bay too often - especially Rotorua. It will be some of the best players in the country and we're looking forward to seeing them."
He said all of the Bay of Plenty bowling club's worked well together.
"Most of the organisation is done by the steering committee in Tauranga. What I have to do here is brief the teams on the rules regarding how the games are played and just basically the conditions of play and health and safety aspects. There are 12 greens being used, eight in Tauranga and the four here in Rotorua. We're all in it together."
Hosting the tournament gives those who are not able to travel further afield for tournaments the chance to compete.
"There will be a few very strong ones but there will be a few in there just for the experience as well. The singles and the pairs were held in Dunedin and it's quite a costly thing to travel away for these things. There will be quite a few entries from our centre.
"In the fours, you have to be pretty good bowlers - every one of you. The standard of bowlers in New Zealand is quite high."
Meanwhile, next week's national tournament is one of three major events being held at Mount Maunganui's Mount Greens facility over the next 12 months.
The facility, which is home to the Mount Maunganui Bowling Club, Croquet Mount Maunganui and Tauranga Bay of Plenty Petanque, will also host the Petanque New Zealand National Club Champs on April 25-26.
The Anzac weekend event is the pinnacle petanque event in this country.
Fast forward to Waitangi Day 2021 and the Mount venue will see the beginning of the Golf Croquet World Champs, which will run until February 14. It will mark the Croquet Mount Maunganui's second year hosting the international competition, which is expected to attract teams from more than 16 countries hoping to secure world glory.
Big events at Mount Greens facility:
Bowls New Zealand Summerset Nations Fours: February 27-March 2.
Petanque New Zealand National Club Champs: April 25-26.
Golf Croquet World Champs: February 6-14, 2021.