Barnaby Monk 5:30 a.m., March 4
Hanging Out with the San Diego Lawn Bowling Club
It was so serene. On a perfect Sunday afternoon, I stopped by the greens that the San Diego Lawn Bowling Club calls home.
The players, dressed in all-white so that they practically shone in the sunshine, squared off and rolled the irregularly shaped and weighted bowls along the perfectly manicured grass. Each bowl (don't call it a ball!) was about the size and shape of a flattened grapefruit, and the uneven weighting caused them to curve as the slowed down at the end of their travel down the green. Good shots ended up near the "jack" (a little, white ball that serves as a target) and earned points for the scoring team.
Watching the players, most of whom were genteel retirees, traverse the bowling green was like watching fish swim in an aquarium. I could feel stress melting away. I let loose a few golf claps to celebrate what looked to me like good shots, but the players seemed caught up in the game.
I struck up a conversation with one gentleman who as standing just off the green and observing the games in play. He told me that the club has been operational since 1932 and that Queen Elizabeth bowled there in the Eighties. Apparently, lawn bowls started as a sport in England about 700 years ago. I get the feeling it hasn't changed all that much.
The bowlers play every day, year-round, at different times, but it's the Sunday session that best captures the spirit of the game. The white uniform is a club requirement on Sunday and the leisurely pace of play is perfectly suited to a sunny, Sunday afternoon.
Like any good club, the SDLBC is willing to reach out to prospective members. Anybody can inquire about a free lesson by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, which I might just do at some point, although I'd be perfectly content to just watch the lopsided bowls dip and curve across the grass while the sun pours out of the sky and it might as well be 1932 for an hour or two.