Bowls: Mechanical arm helps Pop Claw to stay in the game
BRYAN Buckley is one half of 'Team Claw' on the synthetic greens at Grafton District Services Club. He and pairs partner Ron Douglas are part of a growing number of lawn bowlers who have switched to using mechanical arms.
But while some of the purists are still coming to terms with accepting the device, its primary purpose is to keep people involved in the sport longer rather than provide any advantage.
Rheumatoid arthritis and sciatica led to Buckley making the change about 12 months ago.
"I made the choice to either give the game away or use this," Buckley said.
"It's a lot of work changing and I get a bit cranky. It's another skill you've got to learn. There's still a fair bit of discrimination. A lot of blokes think it's a cheating device and get a bit jealous. But I get more support than not."
Buckley, who is known as the GDSC scribe "Kaos" in On The Greens, recently returned from the 2015 NSW Bowlers Arm Open Singles Tournament held at East Maitland and Beresfield.
One of the reasons Bowls NSW endorses the use of the devices is to stop 'dumping' and reduce maintenance costs of grass and synthetic greens.
"A few blokes at the club have seen me use it and started using it themselves. It keeps them in the game longer.
"Ronny Douglas, aka 'The Claw' was the original. He just won 2015 Clubs Minor Singles Championship, and 87-year-old Reg Oxenford has just gone to one.
"He got his first resting toucher in his third game with one. Now we call him Pop Claw."
Meanwhile South Grafton's Jan Axon has used the device for a decade with great success including winning the 2015 Clarence River District Women's Singles Championship after finishing runner up three times previously.
"She was a beautiful hand bowler," Buckley said. "Now she has an outstanding record using her device."
Axon finished runner up in the Platinum section at the 2014 NSW Open Bowlers Arm Singles Tournament.