Bowling blind

TOP BOWLER: Local Bill Hunt (pictured) hasn't let being legally blind stop him from bowling well on the green.

TOP BOWLER: Local Bill Hunt (pictured) hasn't let being legally blind stop him from bowling well on the green.

When making the transition from bowling normally to bowling blind, local Bill Hunt found that his own mind became the key to success.

That, and the support from his wife Maureen and his teammates.

Bill began bowling on the green of the Whyalla Bowls Club socially in 2004. After his wife retired they began bowling competitively, but Bill began experiencing age-related macular disease until he was declared legally blind in 2012.

Age-related macular disease (AMD) is the leading cause of blindness and severe vision loss in Australia. It causes progressive loss of central vision, which is needed to drive, read and recognise faces.

But Bill hasn’t let that stop him from bowling, instead he relies on his teammates to advise him on where the white ball or ‘jack’ is on the rink and then pictures it in his mind before he bowls.

He described it as a ‘tough’ transition to learn to bowl while legally blind, but he focuses on improving on  every bowl.

“My teammate might say that I was two-foot short or three-foot long on my last bowl. So I make adjustments based on that,” Bill said.

Not only has he made new friends through bowls, Bill has also performed admirably in the local fours competition, with his team having won the past two championships at the bowls club.

Next week Bill and his teammates will kick of their quest for a three-peat, which Bill says would be ‘very nice’.

“We’ll try to go in with confidence in our ability,” he said.

Bill has also been passing his knowledge of lawn bowls on to the younger generation in recent years, teaching Year 12 students at Edward John Eyre High School how to bowl.

With his wife Maureen and two other bowlers, Bill tutors the students on the rules of the game for 10 weeks until they are graded by a moderator in Port Lincoln.

“Some of the kids are great, they get really competitive. On the last day everyone usually does well on the green,” he said.

“Normally youngsters think lawn bowls is an old people’s sport but gradually they do come around to it. They might not ever bowl competitively again but if they do they can carry on that knowledge.”