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LIVING 60 : Lawn bowling a ‘strategic’ game, says senior player

Langley Lawn Bowling Club is always looking for new members
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Alan Gregson, president of the Langley Lawn Bowling Club, said he’s always looking for new members. (Kyler Emerson/Langley Advance Times)

Alan Gregson didn’t know much about lawn bowling before he joined, but he knew of the sport thanks to his grandfather.

“My dad said his dad lawn bowled in England, and that was all I knew,” he told the Langley Advance Times.

As soon as he retired from teaching, now some 20 years ago, Gregson signed up with the Langley Lawn Bowling Club.

He’s since has come to truly appreciated the strategy aspect of the game.

“There’s always new things to learn. It’s a game you can get the basics of within an hour, but it takes you a lifetime to actually get any experience – there’s always room to improve.”

“And I’m not there yet,” he chuckled.

Gregson likens the strategies of lawn bowling to that of curling, versus the common misconception that it’s similar to regular bowling.

A bowler’s performance can really depend on the lawn, hitting bumps in the grass, with the dryness or wetness of the grass impacts play style that day, Gregson explained.

“It’s a wonderful game that way, because it’s more complex than it looks. It’s not just throwing the ball.”

Lawn bowling is played on a large, level surface of grass or artificial turf called the “green,” surrounded by a shallow ditch dividing into separate rinks.

It’s played with singles and teams of two, three, or four players, in all-men, all-women, or mixed groups.

When playing in teams, each member takes turns throwing three bowls against their opponent before retiring from the match.

The last players, the skips for each side, will have to get the best position and grab the points.

“It keeps you a little more humble… it’s always testing your skill,” Gregson said.

He is in his third term as president of the club – approximately six years. He said he’s learned a lot in the role, one of which is looking after the bowling lawn.

“During the season we cut three times a week… plus fertilizing, watering, and rolling to smooth the surface and pack it down a little bit so it’s firmer – the firmer it is, the faster the balls go,” Gregson explained.

“And everyone wants faster,” he laughed.

The balls, dubbed bowls, are not perfectly spherical and are weighted to one side, so they move in arcs rather than straight lines.

There are records of organized lawn bowls being played as far back as the 12th century in Britain.

According to historical accounts, the unique shape of the balls used in modern lawn bowling was introduced in the 1500s, supposedly because the British Duke of Suffolk broke a ball during play.

Suffolk, it is said, found a replacement by sawing off an ornamental ball from a stair banister, leaving one part flat and sending the ball curving at the end of its run, instead of continuing on a straight line.

Founded in 1979, the Langley Lawn Bowling Club has been in operation since 1982 when the Douglas Park lawn bowling green was built by the City of Langley with funding from the Langley Rotary Club and the provincial government of the day.

The club is one of 24 in the Lower Mainland, with others located in nearby municipalities such as Maple Ridge, Surrey, White Rock, Abbotsford, and Chilliwack.

“We are a very social group, and I like to think that we are very much a family too. We support each other, we know each other,” Gregson said of the Langley club.

Drop-in bowling sessions at the Langley club are open Mondays, Thursdays, and Fridays at 6:15 p.m. until the end of September.

The club is located at 20471 54th Ave.

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Check out this and other stories in our latest edition of Living 60+ magazine online.

READ ALSO: VIDEO: Local lawn bowling club seeking new members

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Langley Lawn Bowling Club has drop-in sessions Mondays, Thursdays, and Fridays until September this year. (Langley Lawn Bowling Club/Special to Langley Advance Times)


Kyler Emerson

About the Author: Kyler Emerson

I'm honoured to focus my career in the growing community of Aldergrove and work with our many local organizations.
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