The annual Bowls NZ Open Nationals gets underway today with 288 men competing in singles qualifying. This is exactly half the number who competed in Wellington in 1997–98 when they had 576 starters.
There is also a change to 1-day 3-round qualifying for all events followed by knockout play. In a way it's similar to the days prior to the 1960s when the nationals were run as a 2-life system. They had huge entries back then but the system worked well, every game was competitive and there were no "games not played". There was extra kudos if you could win it with both lives intact – a rare feat.