“You get a little exercise, a little sun, a lot of socializing, and a lot of fun.”
That is how club member and publicity director Stuart Scott describes lawn bowling at the Penticton Lawn Bowling Club.
The sport is similar to curling, with teams taking turns throwing the bowls down the green, aiming to get their bowl closest to the jack. Unlike bocce or regular bowling, the bowls are flattened on one end, causing them to curl when rolled properly. Like with curling, part of the game is learning how and when the bowls will curl, and how to best block your opponent’s bowls from getting closer than your own.
People of all skill levels and physical abilities are welcome to play. There is some walking involved, as players go from one end of the green to the other after each end. For individuals who are unable to bend over or pick up the bowls, the club has grips capable of picking up the bowls, and sticks for bowling as well. Every Monday night, two club members also provide free 40 to 45-minute lessons.
The sport is less expensive than golf, which is one of the aspects that drew Scott to the game, having given up the greens due to the costs. All of the equipment for the sport are provided by the club, with different sizes of bowls, lockers, and mats available for everyone. Drop-in sessions are $5 each, just swing by the club for their open bowling at 6:30 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday, although it’s rare for people who try out the sport not join up afterwards.
“Once you drop-in, all of a sudden you’re a part of the family here,” said Scott. “I can’t think of the last time I saw somebody pull out a five dollar bill out of their pocket.”
Full memberships are $175 for the year, which runs from the beginning of May and to the end of October, and the club also offers a social memberships for $40. Social members get eight free games in the season, and open invitations to all of the club’s social and fun days, which run through the whole season and into the winter when the outdoor green is no longer available.
“For fun days, we’ll do things like bowl from corner to corner. Once the greens are gone, we’ll keep going because it’s a social thing,” said Scott. “So we’ll have things like a pizza night, or a card night. We’ll have what we call inside carpet bowling, and we’ll have a stick right in the middle that you have to curl around. There’s always something for people to come down and do.”
The social aspect is one of the biggest draws for the 75 members of the club, with more than a dozen signed up for the social membership. In addition to weekly events and internal tournaments, the club has a number of social opportunities with the many other clubs in the Interior Zone.
This year, a dozen members of the club are going to the B.C. 55 Plus Games in Kelowna. The members beat not only other teams in the club, but the top teams from the other clubs in the Interior Zone to earn the right to represent the Penticton Lawn Bowling Club in the provincial competition.
In September, the club is holding an open house, where any and everyone are welcome to come down and give the sport a try. The open house begins at 10 a.m. on Sept. 14.
The club saw its inception in 1929 in a clubhouse on the shore of Okanagan Lake, as the Lakeside Bowling Club. Although the club moved to their current location on Brunswick Street in 1930, the name lives on in the club’s paperwork. The club is non-profit and entirely volunteer run.
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