6 October 2022

Max and Carolyn Sanbrook the pair to beat on the greens at Wagga RSL Bowling Club

| Katrina Condie
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Bowling couple

Max and Carolyn Sanbrook share a love of lawn bowls and have been members of the Wagga RSL Bowling Club for more than 20 years. Photo: Adam Drummond.

Max and Carolyn Sanbrook are the couple to beat on the Wagga RSL Bowling Club greens, having taken out the club’s mixed pairs competition nine times.

They’ve been members of the Wagga RSL Club for about 50 years, and members of the bowling club for two decades.

Both agree the greens provide hours of fun, social chatter and exercise. But when they pair up against their friends, their combined competitive streaks take over, making a formidable team.

“We’re both very competitive,” Carolyn laughed.

Carolyn plays social bowls twice a week with the ladies on Tuesdays and Thursdays, while Max rolls up with the men on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. Both play competition and pennants as well.

Lawn bowls is their life and they say the Wagga RSL Club has the best greens around, and is a fantastic place to share their love for the sport and each other.

“It’s a really good club to be a part of. All the members are very social and get on well together,” Max said.

“The social aspect is one of the best parts about it. We’ve signed up two members in the last two days, so obviously word is getting around about what a great club it is.”

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The former men’s president of 11 years, Max has been instrumental in organising the club’s $10,000 annual Men’s Classic Fours championships for 15 years, and has represented Wagga RSL at state competitions in the fours and triples.

In 2020 Max was awarded life membership of the RSL Bowling Club and said he was “overwhelmed”.

“It’s actually not too often that I’m short for a word, but I was then,” he said.

The club treasurer, also of 11 years, Carolyn has played singles and pairs at state level – often coming away with the runner-up title – and said the RSL club was very supportive of its bowlers both at home and away.

“We’re a club within a club really, and the top club is absolutely wonderful and very cooperative with our bowling club,” she said.

The bowling club boasts about 120 members, 80 men and 40 women, and the greens are often booked out with visitors and casual barefoot bowlers.

The recent addition of a pop-up bar alongside the green has been a big hit.

“The bar is great for social groups and parties. It’s a really good set-up,” Max said.

“It adds to the social element because you can have a beer and chat with the other bowlers while you’re playing.”

Max is also a golfer, but he said bowls was much more social because you could interact with not only your team mates, but everyone in the competition. He tells his golfing buddies that bowls is also much more competitive.

Bowler on the green

Life member Max Sanbrook rolls one down on the Wagga RSL Bowling Club green. Photo: Adam Drummond.

The Wagga RSL greens are almost fully booked out for Christmas parties and social events until the end of the year.

“Companies and local community groups have their Christmas parties and play barefoot bowls. It’s great.” Carolyn said.

“They can have a drink at the new outdoor bar and the restaurant will bring pizzas and food down for them – it’s very popular.”

The club recently played host to the NSW Blind Bowling Championships and visitors also made the most of the club’s accommodation.

“It’s great because the competitors could just walk from the motel straight onto the green,” Carolyn said.

“It’s so wonderful to be able to host these kinds of events, and watching the blind bowlers, helped by their directors, was just incredible. It blows your mind to see them play.”

Wagga is known as the regional sporting capital of NSW and the club boasts about 10 up-and-coming young players, under the age of 30, who hit the greens regularly.

READ ALSO Wagga clubs grant community groups a $95,000 boost

Nate Adams, 14, only started playing bowls last year and has been selected for the men’s number 4 pennants side, while Max described 21-year-old Heath Walker as “a gun” on the green.

Young Wagga RSL bowler Joel Jensen won silver and gold in the State Blind Bowls competition in front of a home crowd.

Max said bowls offered something for all ages and, while it’s not a physical contact sport, there’s more to it than meets the eye.

“Bowls requires serious hand-to-eye coordination and it’s a very mental and strategic game,” he said.

“It doesn’t matter how old you are, everyone can enjoy some tough competition, then go in for lunch together and get to know each other and have a laugh.”

A former local AFL player and coach, Max said lawn bowls kept you mentally and physically fit.

“You probably walk two kilometres just playing one game of bowls, which people don’t realise. Walking up and down and bending over keeps your joints nimble and the strategy keeps your brain active,” he added.

Max, Carolyn and their three sons get together on Boxing Day every year for a family roll-up which they say is loads of fun and brings them closer.

Bowlers of all genders, ages and abilities are welcomed and encouraged to try their hand at the sport on one of the best greens and facilities in NSW.

Expect a friendly, convivial atmosphere, with new members in particular invited to learn, practise and enter club competitions. The club’s experienced coaches and members are always happy to assist new members every step of the way.

All Wagga RSL Bowling Club members, guests and visitors have access to top-notch facilities, including two championship greens, which are maintained to an impeccable standard.

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