14 March 2010
Bowls is an ancient sport traceable to 13th century England. It is related to the Italian sport of bocce. Today it is played in Britain, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, United States, Canada, Argentina, and parts of Asia. In Britain it has been featured on television.
I first encountered lawn bowling as a young man in England, but it held little appeal at the time. It was only when I was older and living in Greenwich, Connecticut, that I decided to try it out. Would it sound frivolous if I told you the crisp white uniforms and floppy white hats were a point in the sport's favour? So be it.
Lawn bowlers are notoriously friendly and well-mannered. They are also quite tolerant. When I first stepped on to the green in Greenwich with my Brazilian girlfriend at the time and mingled with the oldsters engaging in friendly chat, no one batted an eyelid as my lovely companion bent over in her snug white shorts and tight Lacoste polo shirt to deliver a well-aimed forehand draw.
Lawn bowling has several advantages over golf. It requires a smaller playing area. Players adhere to a dress code and etiquette. It is a social sport conducive to conversation, networking, and drinking tea. Lawn bowlers rarely get brutalised by their jealous wives and sent to special clinics for sex addiction and other psychological disorders. Most importantly, lawn bowling is English--not Scottish--and for that reason alone I support it.
And yet, I have to admit, my visits to the Laguna Beach Lawn Bowling Club have been few and far between. But for once I have a reasonable excuse. Gazing over the cliffs at the boiling surf below and watching the regular sets rolling in, I can not help but say to myself: "I should be surfing!"