By Mallory Neeve Wilkins                                                                                (written by a novice bowler)

For me, the idea of lawnbowling was something I related to a group of older people, all dressed in ‘whites’ playing with black bowls in an enclosed grass court or outdoor arena in 30 degrees centigrade temperatures. I was a curler, playing indoors on ice, dressed in colourful jackets delivering coloured rocks down a sheet of decorated ice in mixed teams of 20 plus and active seniors. I was Canadian. I liked the variety of draw and hit deliveries, and the stretching exercises where all body muscles were challenged, keeping fit.

Photo by Cindy Stephenson

On several occasions, I was approached to visit one of our many lawnbowling clubs, or to attend one of the open houses to view this sport that had been established over a century ago. It wasn’t until a supporter of this old sport showed up promoting the game with a set of raspberry coloured bowls explaining that they were oval shaped and weighted to create a curl when delivered down the grass rink. This  excited me. I loved the idea of coloured bowls, yellow, blue, green, etc. and that the strategy of the game was similar to curling. The promoter also explained that wearing ‘whites’ was no longer mandatory. Now, I was interested and went to a few open houses to do some comparisons.

From championship juniors at Oak Bay and Tsawwassen, to seniors at Juan de Fuca and Victoria clubs, I watched and learned a bit of the game. I was greeted by a few young 30+ players in plaid shorts and colourful Ts at the Victoria Lawnbowling Club in Beacon Hill Park as well as a group of active seniors who were introducing newcomers to the game. I arrived with several other novices, most of whom had never watched or tried curling so there was lots to learn. We signed up for three lessons.

Five and Ten pin bowling was a game I had played during my teens, but this new/old outdoor sport was much different. The bowls were small like a five pin, but varied in size and weight, and the game came with rules on how to stand, hold and deliver the bowl. The idea of tossing a ‘jack’ (a white ball the size of a tennis ball) and then trying to tap it or rest against it was what I practised with my delivery until I understood all the rules and concepts. To be honest, I found lawnbowling more difficult than curling and would have been better off without having had that experience, because the two sports have some similarities, but are definitely different in many ways. The exercise and stretching are great, and you can get thousands of steps in a full game. I like the changes in dress code, the coloured bowls and the relaxation of some rules, so the sport will attract more players and could be in the Olympics before you know it.

For me, I enjoy the idea of joining a club or team and being able to travel anywhere in the world, showing up at a club to bowl. Last year, I visited 13 different clubs as a novice and enjoyed each one, finding the grounds were as different as the people who welcomed me.  Cheers - to a friendly old/up-and-coming revival sport for all ages!