A star-studded field will take to the Awamoa bowling green later this year to remember Russell “Rusty” McDonald.
The Rusty Mac Memorial Pairs invitational tournament to be held on September 19 and 20 has been organised in his honour.
It is being convened by Craig McDonald, one of Russell’s four children and president of the Awamoa Bowling Club.
Russell, a keen fisherman and talented bowler, died suddenly after a boating accident on the Waitaki River last year.
In terms of North Otago titles, he was the second most successful bowler in North Otago history, to Brian Papps.
At 67-years-old, he would almost certainly have overtaken Papps’ record.
The 32-person field has attracted a high calibre of players, all of whom have played with or against Russell over the years.
It is expected to become an annual event and has been officially sanctioned by Bowls New Zealand.
Former international bowlers Shaun Scott and Sean O’Neill will compete in the tournament, as will current New Zealand Blackjack and national singles champion Andrew Kelly, who is originally from Oamaru and began his bowls career as a 12-year-old under the guidance of Russell.
Other key combinations expected to show their class include Ken Walker and Karl Mason, Jim and Terry Scott, Kerry Becks and Paddy Stewart, with many other top provincial representatives from Canterbury, South Canterbury, North Otago, Southland, Dunedin, Central Otago and South Otago comprising the 32-team field.
“It’s going to be a special weekend,” Craig McDonald said.
“You can’t say enough about the guys who are coming.
“There will be plenty of other bowlers who will be disappointed to have missed out, but the reality is we were limiting the field to 32.
“In future years, who knows.
“Maybe the event can expand, but for the inaugural event, everyone will be keen to give it their best shot and no doubt share a few memories of the old man along the way.”
Craig will also compete, lining up alongside his uncle Charlie McDonald.
Russell was not just a talented bowler, he also represented North Otago at rugby and cricket.
“He was the sort of guy that could put his hand to anything,” Craig said.
“He was pretty laid back.
“Nothing seemed to faze him.”
While he was not the sort of person to make a fuss, Craig said Russell would have been honoured to know the event had attracted such an impressive field.