The Yamba Bowling Club has lodged a development application (DA) to build a four-lane tenpin bowling alley, an 18-hole mini-golf course and 10-metres-long by two-metres-high traverse climbing wall.
The proposal, CEO Phil Boughton said, is part of the club’s “diversification strategy”.
“We’re looking at sources of revenue that aren’t traditionally clubby, because the landscape for club land is tough.
“We see, probably once a month, two or three clubs that are either putting their hand up for an amalgamation or closing their doors altogether – we don’t want to be one of those.”
Over recent years, clubs throughout the state have suffered diminishing revenues as a result of regulatory changes to smoking, gambling and drinking laws.
The last club census completed in 2011 (they are conducted at four-year intervals) showed that more than one-third of the 354 NSW clubs that closed or amalgamated between 1995 and 2011 were bowling clubs.
The KPMG census stated that half of the remaining small clubs were struggling financially.
Mr Boughton said the new facilities would be constructed within the building’s existing structure – the bowling alley and climbing wall will be sited in the existing covered outdoor area and the mini-golf course would cover the existing outdoor play area and the adjacent grassed area.
“What we’ve recognised is that [the club has] always been focussed on adult entertainment,” he said.
“We need to diversify into forms of entertainment that we believe the community will be interested in – in that regard we are looking at essentially a family entertainment centre.”
He said he expected the new centre to attract members, tourists and locals, alike.
“A lot of our members are grandparents and a lot of kids come to holiday with the grandparents,” he said.
“We want to provide something that the grandparents can actually be involved in alongside the kids.
“With tenpin bowing and mini-golf, nan and pop can get involved with their grandkids at the same time.”
As it turned out, forming the overall family entertainment centre concept was somewhat of a surprise, which came after the club engaged a consultant to look at the logistics of building a mini-golf course.
“Mini-golf was something that we [management and the club’s board] felt would be quite appropriate in this area,” Mr Boughton said.
“Our consultant said, ‘whilst we’re doing feasibility on mini-golf why don’t we look at a host of other family activities’.
“When all of the reports came back, it appeared that [the proposed activities] all worked together.
“We started out with mini-golf and then progressed from there to a full family entertainment centre.
“The [existing] children’s playground was tired, it had had its day and it was time to move on.”
Mr Boughton said the club was aiming to complete the centre by the 2016 Christmas holiday season.
He said that the mini-golf course would “probably [incorporate] a natural landscape rather than a themed proposal such as what you might see at the Gold Coast, with fibreglass animals and that sort of stuff”.
The club is also replacing the slot machine room with a twin-level dual-play area for one to six-year-olds.