NEARLY 800 players took to the greens across Bendigo for the start of the Bendigo Bank Country Week bowls tournament on Monday.
First-up was the pairs tournament, with players involved in a series of five qualifying matches across two days before the start of knockout competition.
The final will be played on Wednesday night at the Bendigo Bowls Club, with the Kyneton team of Mark Smoljo and John Kays chasing back-to-back crowns.
Country Week organiser Geoff Briggs, fresh from playing a role in Bendigo's BBD division one premiership on Sunday, said the event was arguably the biggest of its kind in country Victoria.
It is open to players from across country Victoria, with Bendigo bowlers ineligible to enter.
"We've also got three guys who have come across from Western Australia," Briggs said.
"Despite a bit of rain (Monday) morning, the greens are looking fabulous.
"We are getting a lot of comments from blokes saying how good the greens in Bendigo are and that's one of the reasons they keep coming back."
A total of $9000 in prizemoney is up for grabs.
Play in the fours starts on Wednesday ahead of Thursday’s final.
Briggs said he was certain the influx of bowlers had boosted crowd numbers at Sunday’s division one grand final, won by Bendigo by two shots over Bendigo East.