Bowl with the best at the Australian Open
For many club bowlers, the Australian Open provides the distinct possibility of being pitted against the very best in the world. That’s exactly what happened to Alice Springs-based Ray Dinelt, who is also a member of the Bowls Australia (BA) board. For many club bowlers, the Australian Open provides the distinct possibility of being pitted against the very best in the world.
That’s exactly what happened to Alice Springs-based Ray Dinelt, who is also a member of the Bowls Australia (BA) board.
The 58-year-old found himself in the singles drawn alongside four-time Commonwealth Games gold medalist and arguably the world’s finest bowler in Alex Marshall.
“It’s a bit of a folklore type thing. Every time I get in a conversation it seems to come up somewhere, somehow,” he said.
“It was just one of the biggest thrills I’ve ever had in bowls.
“The irony was the guys from my club who found out about it were at first sort of sympathetic towards me because they thought I’d be really upset and that I would obviously need to be very, very lucky to get through to the next round.
“I was quite the opposite. I was over the moon at the opportunity to go one on one against the best in the world.”
Dienelt pushed the Scot all the way, before going down to a creditable 21-16 loss.
Known to be a ruthless figure on the green, Dienelt said Marshall was a delight to play with but at the same time, brought an incredible competitive edge.
“He was fantastic. Such a good fella but taught me a few lessons. These guys don’t give anyone a break. They’re not there to be Mr Nice Guy… They want every shot they can get,” he said.
“You’ve got to admire that. It raises you to a new level.”
Quite unique to the sport of bowls are opportunities like these for the amateur bowler to find themselves alongside a world champion in an open tournament.
It’s one major attraction of the AO that Dienelt says is unmatched in world sport.
“I could be someone who is quite elite or who has just started playing bowls 12 months ago. I could be 70 or 17 years old. There’s no restriction,” he said.
“Very few other sports around the world are going to give you the opportunity to play with or against the best.
“You’re not going to play tennis against Roger Federer or kick a footy with Gary Ablett Jnr. This is one sport that allows you to do that.
“The Australian Open is the absolute quintessential event you could quite easily play against the best.”
Over 2,000 bowlers from across Australia, and indeed the world are expected to attend again, with entry being completely open to any registered bowler!
Not only is the AO the World’s Biggest Bowls Festival, it is also the richest bowls event in the world with a staggering total of over $250,000 prize money across more than 780 prize money placings in the 16 disciplines.
Bowlers can enter any one of the open disciplines on offer (singles, pairs and fours) or enter age-specific Under-18, Over-60s or Bowlers with a Disability events – for a full breakdown of the disciplines head to australianopen.bowlsaustralia.com.au!
Click here to enter in the 2018 AO! Entries close April 15
Image – Ray Dienelt (left) with Alex Marshall (right) at the 2015 Australian Open