A few months ago during a run in Navyguy and I noticed a group of people, all dressed in white, playing some weird looking game. We stopped by after our run to watch and the president of the San Diego lawn bowling club came over to us, gave us a little information about the game, and offered a free lesson. He also told us not to worry, that they only wore whites on certain days 🙂
I had never even heard of Lawn Bowling before that day and everyone that I mentioned it to afterward responded with some form of “isn’t that for old people?” I still thought it would be fun to try but never really thought much about it again.
I’m not sure if it was a case of the “oh crap we’re leaving san diego in a month, we better start squeezing in every activity we’ve missed but still want to do before we leave” , if he just really was interested in trying Lawn Bowling, but seemingly out of nowhere Navyguy signed us up for that free lesson.
Honestly, after watching that one day I thought it looked pretty complicated and difficult. The first thing that really stands out is the fact that the ball isn’t actually round at all. Its slightly flattened and weighted on one side so that when you roll it down the field it curves.
The whole object of the game is to get your ball closest to the “jack”, a little white ball that’s down on the other end of the field, sort of like bocce ball.
Since I’m pretty terrible at describing how to play games here is how the club describes how to play:
“ Lawn Bowls is played on a rectangular section of grass called a ‘rink.’ One to four players form opposing teams and alternate rolling their bowls toward a small white ball (the ‘jack’) at the far end of the rink.
After all bowls are rolled in one direction, a team scores one point for each of its bowls that end up closer to the jack than the opponent’s closest bowl.
The bowls are not spherical; one side is slightly flattened and weighted, which causes the bowl to curve as it slows down – and that’s where it gets challenging!”
So basically, you stand on the mat, aim either to the left or the right of the jack, and then roll your ball hoping that it will curve in and come the closest to the jack. If you roll outside the boundary line or into the ditch, your ball is dead.
I didn’t get a great picture of the bowl, its actually the other side that’s flat and heavy.
To help make sure you always know which side is flat/heavy side, there is a smaller circle on that side and a larger circle on the round side. The number one thing to remember is to keep the small circle on the side you want your bowl to curve towards. (Word on the street is that if you roll your bowl and it curves off the course in the opposite direction you have to put 25 cents in a jar for not paying attention.)
To throw a bowl first you have to stand on the mat, one foot has to be on the mat at all times. Your feet and shoulders should be pointed towards your aim line, and you should be squatting with your dominate hand holding the bowl and your non dominant hand on your knee.
Swing your arm back, pause at the top of the swing, step forward, and release the ball close to the ground by your foot.
It’s actually a lot easier than it looks/sounds!
It definitely took a little while to get the hang of. Sometimes the ball has a huge curve, sometimes it goes almost straight, since the ground is never totally even you never know where to aim until after you start playing. I guess in that respect is sort of like a cross between golf and bowling.
When we first started out almost none of our bowls were anywhere near the jack, but we both caught on surprisingly fast. By the end we were so into I totally forgot about the camera, I’m really not very competitive, but it was a really close game, I had to focus haha!
Sure, its true, we were the youngest players by a good 30 years, but lawn bowling is definitely worth giving a try. Heck, everyone there was incredible, I hope I’m that limber and coordinated in 30 years!
I think best part about the whole lesson was learning how warm and welcoming the whole club is.
I would definitely recommend trying lawn bowling if you ever get the chance, it is definitely not just for old people 🙂