Ashburton Bowling Club champion Brentton Donaldson is one of the younger generation of lawn bowlers.
He has turned out for rugby, tennis and long distance running but in the past seven years has returned to bowls; a sport he tried while a junior at Ashburton College, and then played as a senior at Timaru Boys High School.
Donaldson, now 30, is a painter for Scammell Painting and Decorating.
Bowls features in his daily life. He is either at the Ashburton club, or another club most days of the week practicing or competing in club or interclub events. Weekend play is up to eight hours each day.
Donaldson has been under the wing of coach/advisor Diane Gutberlet, who is also club president.
In the past few weeks he has taken out a hat-trick of club competitions, playing in teams to win the Men’s Championship fours, triples and pairs titles. He has now won all four club titles after taking the singles title outright winning both sides of the draw; no final was needed.
Donaldson hails from a long line of lawn bowlers associated with the club; including his grandparents Annette and Tony Blain and great uncles, Doug Kinvig and Russell Lowe. His dad, Kevin, started playing this year.
While his mum, Glenda, and partner Becs McClymont do not play, they are big supporters, he said.
Despite such a relatively short stint on the green he is making inroads at provincial level.
He was named in the Northern Quadrangle Canterbury team (cancelled due to covid) and is one of a 28-strong Canterbury training squad members.
It’s a big commitment with weekly mid-week training sessions in Christchurch. He plays a pretty chilled game with a good attitude focused on his game.
I just know where the ball is going when I bowl it, he said.
“Once you play a ball, there is nothing you can do.”
He admits he hasn’t yet got a complete game and has been “sticking to what I know”.
As his former mentor, the late-John ‘Bigsy’ McLay once said, sport was 90 percent mental attitude. Bigsy’s help visualising goals in the early years had been invaluable and their conversations still stuck with Donaldson.
Visualisation is just as important as the physical aspects of the game, he said. It helped him focus on winning Mid Canterbury’s Lowry Cup in the men’s open singles in just his third year of playing, six months after Bigsy’s passing.
Donaldson said there are younger, more experienced players than he in the bowls ranks and many seasoned players yet to relinquish their team standings. But his game is developing nicely.
He, along with Gavin Eder and Winstone Lee took on the Donaldson’s elders, Blain, Kinvig and Lowe, for the Men’s Championship Triples final. It was played Monday night.
Donaldson’s team won.
It was the icing on the cake and topped off a successful year for Donaldson with the four club titles. He had earlier teamed up with Blain, Kinvig and Lowe to play in the Ashburton Bowling Club’s champion fours final – and won.
He then played alongside John Kewish in the club’s pairs final and also won that title. He was up against his grandfather and great uncle Doug.
His home club’s picturesque greens in the Ashburton Domain hold a special place in his heart, but this season he also joined the Methven Bowling Club to expand his game and play in big competitions.
He, and his new teammates, played in the Bowls Canterbury Interclub Division 1 Sevens competition. They made it to the final but lost out to Elmwood Park 1.
“It was pretty surreal. We were big underdogs,” Donaldson said.