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Bowls History


Mr J L S Franzsen was the great force behind the founding of the Stellenbosch Bowling Club.
Excerpt from Mr Franzsen’s diary dated January 1939
“I will have to keep my promise that I would some day tackle the question of forming a bowling club.”
Excerpt 9 February 1939
...It appears the time has arrived for successful starting. I will act on my own as a one-man self-appointed committee and will probably get something done.”
Another excerpt mentions a visit to his friend

Prof C S Edgar with a view to ensure his interest in the formation of the club. Prof Edgar’s remark “You have given me a new lease of life,” was a great encouragement to Mr Franzsen. They travelled far and wide to obtain advice, wherever possible, on all the aspects of building a green. They inspected many different types of grasses until eventually Mr Franzsen took it upon himself to order grass from the farm of a Dr Reitz near Harrismith. The choice of grass has proved fortunate and extremely successful.

Prof Edgar later qualified for a permanent place in the history of South African Bowls by undertaking and completing the huge job of checking the English wording of the original Laws of the game.
The first notice of a meeting to establish a bowling club was signed on 21 October 1940.
As a result of the hard work of a number of gentlemen, in particular Mr Franzsen, the green was eventually opened on 12 December 1942. The first wood was delivered by the Mayor, Dr Cruse.


During the next 60 years a number of people contributed to the smooth running of the club.The ladies wore dresses, silk stockings, prescribed white shoes and hats with head-bands – this was strictly imposed. The men also had to adhere to prescribed clothing. Gradually this enforcement was released and players were allowed to dress more casually, but still within certain parameters.
Until 1973 men and women’s sections functioned as two separate entities. In 1975 Stellenbosch BC became the Van der Stel BC and part of the Van der Stel Sport Club.


An important and most significant development was the merging of the Van der Stel BC with Vlottenburg BC. The initial suggestion came from members of the Vlottenburg BC to their own executive committee. A meeting was held where it was obvious that the club was divided and this resulted in a rift.
A delegation approached Van der Stel BC, but two members of this delegation were opposed to this merger. This resulted in the formation of two opposing camps. A number of members joined the Van der Stel BC. The remaining members attempted to keep Vlottenburg BC active, but after a year they also joined the Van der Stel BC. A strong Stellenbosch-Van der Stel BC was formed in 2005. Membership annually averages about 80 players.
The first team to enter the Flag Competition had to start in Division 6. Winning ensured promotion to the next division. Success was eventually achieved when the club participated in the Premier Division in 2011/12 and ended in third place.
In 2008 a Business League was formed. Businesses, university personnel enter a team of four players who participate on four consecutive Wednesday evenings in February and November. In this way the game is introduced to 96 players.
Stellenbosch-Van der Stel BC is privileged to have beautiful greens and gardens. In 2010 a braai-area was built with an enormous financial input by Jan Smitsman and technical advice from Jannie Malan. This proves to be a great asset.
To name prominent citizens as members of the Stellenbosch Bowling fraternity, would commit an injustice to less prominent members whose contribution cannot be emulated.
The display boards in the club house will reveal the names of presidents and club champions as well as achievements on provincial and national level. The tabs of deceased members are “carried over” to a special board and this will validate the history of Stellenbosch.
The club is renowned for its ambience, genuine friendship and cameraderie. We are also extremely grateful to the many capable members who contribute their skills and expertise to the successful running of the club.