Posted: Oct 30, 2012 4:45 PM by Jeanette Trompeter
Updated: Oct 30, 2012 5:54 PM
It's not something you see everyday, or everywhere. But you will see it happening around the Central Coast. Ever checked out lawn bowling? It looks so dignified. So serene. So I went to check it out in Santa Maria and what I found was a whole lot of fun, and more proof There's No Place Like Home.
They gather most mornings at 10, and play in groups of 2, 4, or 6. And the thing they seem to have in common is that the first time they played the game, they were hooked. "I started at age 19. I bowled competitively and the younger you are, the more competitive you are." says Jim Graham instructor at the Santa Maria Lawn Bowling Club.
The age of club members tends to lean toward the more experienced side of life. "I'm 92." says Bill MacDonald matter-of-factly. He took the game up as he was approaching 70. And don't kid yourself, there's plenty of competition left in the players who gather here.
For 40-bucks a year, they gather for organized games Tuesday through Friday, and the greens are available to them all the time.
A standard bowling green is 120 foot square, and perfectly level. It may be a level playing field, but you're not playing with a balanced ball in this game. In fact, lawn bowling balls have no holes, are not round, and they don't roll straight. That's part of the challenge. "If you want to find out how far it curves, just roll it straight out to the jack there." says Graham. "And it will show you how far you have to go out to that"
the modern version of the game originated in Scotland. It's played largely in British Empire countries.
It's a little bit Bocce Ball, but you roll the ball instead of toss it. It has some aspects of pool. And it's definitely a little bit of a mental chess game. And it's a hoot playing with the group in Santa Maria.
The commaraderie of the club is largely why Jane Thomas has been coming back almost daily for ten years now. "I enjoyed it because it was outdoors. I enjoyed the socialization." She says she found an instant group of friends at the club after moving to Santa Maria. "And we are concerned about each other. If you are absent for two or three days you will get a call from someone, asking what the problem is, are you sick or something and I like that. I like that."
It may seem like a gentleman's game but there are a lot of ladies who are members as well. "When we got married, I promised to lawn bowl, and he promised to play bridge." says Linda Graham, who has been playing with her husband for decades. "And here we are still lawn bowling and playing bridge."
What all 54 members of the club wish they had more of, was young people coming out and learning the tradition.
"They think only older people lawn bowl, but this is for everyone." says Jane.
And the gang at the Santa Maria Lawn Bowling Club is a bunch of adults who are still competitive kids at heart. They are also more great proof, There's No Place Like Home.
There is also a lawn bowling park in Cambria. In fact, it's the parents of one of the members of the Santa Maria Club who started the effort to build the park in Cambria after being exposed to the sport through their daughter.
For more information on either club, visit their websites.
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