instead, i discovered a new cross training activity available just a few blocks from my house at the lovely Lake Merritt --
the other week, i made it to the Oakland Lawn Bowling Club's FREE lessons. (for real, be sure to check out the website.) [History and rules of lawn bowling are plagiarized from "the game of lawn bowls" flyer we were given.]
me, my roommate lily, and my friend linden who was visiting from philly went to Lake Merritt for the free lesson. Free lessons are Tuesday/Thursday 10-12 and Sunday 12-3. we got there and this guy Ricardo got us some bowls. [Bowls come in sets of four and, for the purpose of identification, each set has its' own unique graphic emblem engraved on each side of each bowl. Bowls are perfectly round in one direction but slightly flattened in the other, and if rolled the wrong way will look like a potato bouncing along the green. One side of the flattened direction is also tapered causing the bowl to curve in that direction and is called the bias. bowls come in different sizes, weights colors, and bias's]
Because they are bowls (and not balls), they are difficult to throw because they arch the way the bowl is weighted. It requires a lot of skill to aim the bowl. This makes lawn bowling MUCH more difficult than Bocce Ball, which uses a ball that is quite predictable.
Ricardo tried to teach us what to do and explain us rules, but there was quite a language barrier and Lily did her best translating for us, but her Spanish vocabulary wasn't sharp on lawn bowling terms. However, we got the jist. Ricardo used other mean of telling us we were doing bad when we would aim poorly. He'd take off his belt and slap it against his hand like he was going to whip us. He would also yell and wave his hands. The other lawn bowlers were unamused by our poor skills and annoyed at the ruckus we were making.
ricardo talking with lily, after he took off his belt, before he slapped lily for making a bad throw, but also before he kissed us all good bye and wanted to buy us lunch.
We started our game and it was very difficult. The real lawn bowlers next to us didn't like us so much cause we kept rolling our bowls on their court and i guess we were making too much noise. One lady in particular kept giving us "pointers."
"You should really take off your coat so you improve your throw." I took off my coat.We were having fun figuring out the rules on our own. But then Jerry, the president, arrived and gave us a proper tutorial on the rules. It was quite helpful. (Jerry was wearing cowboy boots, that didn't have flat soles, by the way.) He told us the rule book for lawn bowling is 69 pages! The green is 120 ft squared and are at least 14 feet wide. People throw the ball from a mat that is 6'6" out from the edge of the court. The objective of the game is for you to roll your bowls closer than your opponents to the jack (the small white ball). Points are awarded to the team with the bowls closest to the jack. Typically a game has 16 rounds. (that is the short version.)
"You need to wear flat soled shoes so the groves in your tennis shoes don't bring weeds into our court."
Or, my favorite, after Lily had a very good throw, I had the obvious reaction and proceeded to do the "WOOF WOOF WOOF" dog bark cheer pumping the fist in a circular motion near my shoulder blade. (I'm from Cleveland, that is what you do when someone kicks butt, Cleveland Browns style.) Anyway, the lady informed me that "Lawn bowling was a quiet game." Oops. I didn't know; I was just very excited.
Jerry was pretty awesome giving us a bunch of pointers and history of the game. He ran a good practice. They are trying to recruit more young people into the lawn bowling league. It is only $15 a year and you get a name plaque with your name on it that says "Oakland Lawn Bowling Club". Typically during matches lawn bowlers wear all white. We asked if there were ever any Rogue leagues, but it seems like the answer is no.
Jerry warned us-- take it easy. Some people's legs can hurt after doing this for the first time. There is lots of bending and squatting. I scoffed. Dude, he must not know my quads are 60.75 inches (they were smaller back then). I bowled with gusto and didn't heed his warnings. Karma would getting at me for this. When we got home an hour later I had really bad lower back pain and was walking like those old men all hunched over for the next 5 days. It took a long time to stand up and I had to use my hand to hoist myself straight. So, I learned my lesson. Just cause you can bike really fast doesn't mean you can lawn bowl. (Also, Peter is right, I have no back.)
After we were done with our lesson, Jerry handed us some flyers. I will type it out for everyone. However, he said he did not like the title of the flyer and made sure to know that he did not make it. "Why be negative? I like to focus on the positive of the sport." Wise man. Never trash talk.
BETTER THAN BOCCE BALL
Try lawn bowling!! It is a healthy outdoor sport played on grass that provides sunshine, fresh air, and a social atmosphere. It is a challenging and fun game. Check it out.
Oakland Lawn Bowling Club, at Lake Merritt, 660 Bellvue Ave, across from Fairyland. Free Lessons Sunday 12-3, T/Th 10-11.
Here is Lily, me, Jerry (the president), this random high school girl walking through the park who we talked into joining us, and linden
Lawn bowling is very challenging and requires great skill (and a good back) to boot. Perhaps I will go out for a few more practices this winter And if I quit my job, I will definitely be out there every Tuesday and Thursday. Here are some of the people who are out there-- they look like a lot of fun! I can't wait to retire!!!!