In 2014, the RUC (ACT Rugby Union Club) and Canberra North Bowling Club merged to become the RUC at Turner.
With the sale of the RUC, the club acquired the money to undergo refurbishments to what was a
“struggling” club, according to current club Secretary Manager Jeremy Wilcox.
“This bowling club was struggling… It didn’t have enough members to get a liquor license or a gaming license,” he said.
“The idea (to merge) was to generate enough revenue from the clubhouse to pay for the greens.
“That’s the challenge for every bowling club around the country.”
Situated just north of the Civic Centre (Canberra CBD) and close-by to Australian National University, the club has undergone a total transformation over the past three or years, averaging around 12,000 barefoot bowlers a year.
They have diversified their revenue streams, attracting both the younger university demographic in the area, as well as the existing residents in the community.
With barefoot bowling numbers containing to trickle over despite winter approaching, improvements to the food and beverage options, new furniture, fixtures, and fittings, as well as a brand new bar, reception, and gaming area, have worked a treat in securing return bowlers.
Another hit among the locals is the ‘T-RUC’, a food/coffee truck that allows workers passing through the area to order coffee, food and the like via an app on their phones, or pull up their car on the way to work.
“We had to make it a genuine hospitality venue. Change the caterers, change the venue, change the beer offerings,” Wilcox added.
“We brought in functions and a big part of that is barefoot bowling.
“It’s a massive trend in hospitality… Barefoot bowling is an experience people can do while they’re enjoying the hospitality.
“We invited the community in and that was critical. It (the club) can’t just be for bowlers, it’s got to pay for itself. It’s working really well.”
The club is involved in sponsoring local sporting teams, who in turn use the facility (functions and bowling greens) regularly in what has become a thriving sporting community in Turner.
No party has been more inviting of the club’s new social feel than the 161 staunch membership base, who bought-in to the club’s new direction.
“Credit to our member bowlers. They do realise we need maximum revenue in November and December when most of the Christmas parties are, so they moved their bowling to the mornings,” he said.
“But seriously, good on them for realising that we needed all three greens to cope with the barefoot bowlers.
For The RUC at Turner, the next 6-12 months is a period of consolidation, continuing to open their doors to the local community which in turn has worked wonders for revenue.
A club of more than 60 years of history was on the brink four years ago, and the work of Jeremy and his team is an example to all at how clubs can not only survive, but flourish.