WHAT started as a desire to create a fun bowls competition has developed into a full-blown national event, with the Spec-Savers Pro10 event set to be played countrywide next year.
Five years ago, Port Elizabeth bowler John Kapp initiated the Pro10 tournament, which has spiralled into one of the leading events on the provincial calendar.
Now it is set to go national, with the inaugural national finals to be hosted by Mill Park in September 2014.
As a bowler for 10 years, the 65-year-old Kapp, a member at Mill Park who is a medical doctor, became concerned at the dwindling membership, with interest in the sport seeming to wane.
"I felt we needed to do something to create a bit of fun and to create some vibe at a bowls tournament," Kapp said. "So I came up with the idea of the Pro10, which is a shortened form of the game, played over only 10 ends, and taking about 45 minutes to an hour, compared to a normal game of up to three hours."
Kapp suggested additional ideas such as making coloured clothing compulsory and introducing music during play to create a carnival-like feeling.
In a sport which is perceived to have something of a staid atmosphere, these moves seem quite radical, but the popularity of the event has seen it grow massively in the last five years.
From an initial entry of 30 pairs, Kapp and his organising committee will be catering for 80 couples this year when the Eastern Cape event takes place at four venues on November 2-3. The final will be played at Mill Park on the Sunday afternoon.
"The tournament is open to anyone, and we have a reserve list in case any of the pairs cannot make it, so anyone who wants to play can contact me," Kapp said.
With the massive backing from Spec-Savers, the tournament offers impressive prize money, with R15000 going to the winners. In keeping with the informal nature of the event, there are also R5000 vouchers for the best- dressed couple and the couple with the best personality.
"We get all the top bowlers entering, but the tournament is also for those who want to have a bit of fun and enjoy some friendly competition," Kapp said.
Following the success of the PE event, Kapp suggested to the national body that it should be taken countrywide. That has now become a reality and Kapp has been appointed tournament organiser for the inaugural national finals next year.
This means the regional finals will be held in each province, scheduled for June 21-22, with the national finals at Mill Park on September 13-14.
Ensuring it is a bowls event with a difference, Kapp has organised an art exhibition for next month's tournament, with leading Eastern Cape artists putting their works on show.
The bowlers, though, will probably have their eyes firmly on that Pro10 first prize and qualification for the national event.