BOWLERS are preparing for a new-look Western District Bowls Division season with start times and game length tweaked to cater for COVID-19 restrictions.
Midweek pennant, which traditionally starts in a morning time-slot, will be split.
Divisions one and two will start at 1.30pm when round one rolls along on Tuesday, October 27. Its third tier will play from 9.30am.
Weekend pennant, which starts on October 31, has had a similar change up, with divisions one and two to remain in the afternoon and divisions three, four and five moving to a morning start time. Games will be played to 21 ends instead of the regular 25.
New Western District Bowls Division chairperson George Draffen, who took over from Maureen Drennan on Sunday, said the changes were implemented to ensure bowls could resume sooner rather than later.
"It will be quite different. It's so we don't have too many people on the greens at the same time, just to keep with social distancing," he said.
"We'll only be playing 21 ends instead of 25 ends. The morning teams will start at 9.30am and have to finish at 1pm.
"At one o'clock we'll be ringing a bell and they'll be cut off and the afternoon teams will start at 1.30pm and play until they finish 21 ends.
"We've chopped the afternoons back a bit because we're starting later basically and to keep some consistency in all divisions."
Draffen said it was anticipated the changes would only be for one season, unless they were embraced by the players.
"(COVID-19) is the reason it's been done for this year and it will all be reviewed next year," he said.
"I would expect, unless people fell in love with this format, that we'd go back to a different format next year."
Draffen said Western District had made its plans around step three on the state government's roadmap to re-opening.
He hopes spectators and larger indoor gatherings will be permitted as the season progresses and Victoria moves to the last step and, finally, 'COVID Normal'.
"At this stage you're not allowed to have spectators, you're not allowed to have more than 10 people in the clubhouse," Draffen said of step three.
"People will playing in the morning and going home. The social side of the sport is the gatherings afterwards and the chats.
"That is going to be the downside (at least at the start) that we're not going to be allowed that sort of stuff but the upside is we're getting a game of bowls in.
"A lot of the divisions are not starting until close to Christmas or after Christmas so we've decided to have a crack and get it in and we think we've done everything within the rules and to be COVID safe."
Western District has also welcomed a new club with Dunkeld joining division two.
"They played in Far Western in division one and they still have a lower-grade side in Far Western but they put in an application to join Western District to try and advance their bowls a bit," Draffen said.
"They have been a division one finalist for quite a few years in Far Western.
"It went through the clubs and a vote came back to allow them to come but only into division two at this stage. They've agreed to come over so that is exciting."
West Coast Region, which runs tournaments for Western District, Far Western and Corangamite, will take over administration of the three competitions from 2021-22.
Draffen said it was a Bowls Victoria directive to "streamline administration".