Balloons, bunting, breakfast and Bangor Open bowls. Unusual bedfellows you may think.
Not really, as when combined they formulate the unique festival-like ambiance which engulfs the Bangor Open Bowls Tournament played on the three superbly-manicured greens in Ward Park each July.
Balloons and Bunting create the colourful, friendly, lighthearted festival atmosphere and a good hearty breakfast in the pavilion provides those much-needed calories before entering the competitive bowling arena.
You need that carbohydrate-fuelled breakfast as each competition consists of three quickfire qualifying rounds of 12 ends. Therefore, if you are somewhat unfortunate to be defeated in your first qualifying game, you’re not automatically sent packing homeward as is the case in other straight knockout tournaments but you’ve got two more opportunities to obtain that coveted quarter-final place.
Hence the unique appeal of the Bangor Open and with each qualifying discipline scheduled for a different day, you have the opportunity of entering what suits your busy schedule.
As the Bangor Open Bowls tournament strides confidently forward into its 71st year of competition, that widely-held stereotyping of lawn bowls being played by only those of advancing age has been truly evaporated by the youthful exuberance of the last two singles titleholders.
Last year’s champion, Erick Kennedy from the Donaghadee club, has already indicated his intentions to vigorously defend his title against all challengers who may seek to dethrone him.
He said, “Winning the Bangor open singles title was truly amazing, a significant highlight in my bowling career so far and a title I will defend passionately. I couldn’t say I really fancied myself at the start of last year’s tournament but as I progressed through each stage with my game improving, I started to believe and began playing with more confidence. To lift the trophy was obviously fantastic but to play consistently well is always more satisfying.”
The 71st open tournament commences on Friday, July 10, at 6,15pm with a short opening ceremony outside the Ward Park pavilion, quickly followed at 6.30pm by the first round of the very popular mixed pairs competition.
The mixed pairs competition continues on Monday 13th and Wednesday 15th evenings with rounds two and three, again at 6,30pm. A very busy Saturday, July 11, is envisaged with the open pairs event split into two sessions at 9am and 3pm.
The open triples competition on Sunday 12th will commence at 10am and take most of the day. Monday, July 13, features the popular and very competitive open rinks starting at 10am, again nearly a full day event.
The tournament’s premier event, open singles, on Tuesday 14th is divided into two sessions, one at 9am and an evening start at 6pm especially aimed at those who may prefer a later start or have work commitments.
The Under 18 open singles competition is slotted in between the main singles sessions and is scheduled for 2pm on Tuesday. As always, the format for all open competitions consists of three qualifying rounds of 12 ends, with the top 8+ progressing into a straight knockout phase before moving onwards to the finals on Friday 18th.
This year the committee extends a warm welcome to a very strong NI Deaf Bowlers contingent who we assume are using this tournament as a pre-cursor to their own International Championships being held in early September at Belmont.
Many thanks to the open sponsors, Spectator Newspaper Group, Teddy’s Bar & Grill, Helen Kane Nursing Services, Solar Panel Co. NI Ltd and Curious Candy Sweet Shop. The tournament committee is also very grateful to Ards and North Down Borough Council for their invaluable assistance and support along with the Northern Community Leisure Trust in staging this event.
Availability in the various competitions is filling very rapidly and entry forms are available from Matt Stevenson, 22 May Avenue, Bangor, BT20 4JT, tel 9146 1285 or download from www.bangoropenbowls.blogspot.com or www.nibabowls.co.uk