Sports

Lawn Bowling Club opens according to tradition

By Penny Coles, Niagara Advance

Dave Eke throws the first bowl for the opening of the NOTL Lawn Bowling Club Saturday. Noting his style are members David Cooper, Mary Watson, John Grieve, Cathy MacCon and club president Ray Pettit, while Sushil Arora snaps photos. Photo submitted

Dave Eke throws the first bowl for the opening of the NOTL Lawn Bowling Club Saturday. Noting his style are members David Cooper, Mary Watson, John Grieve, Cathy MacCon and club president Ray Pettit, while Sushil Arora snaps photos. Photo submitted

The Niagara-on-the-Lake Lawn Bowling Club has kicked off its 137th season.

The tradition began Saturday with club member Jim Cooper offering a stirring rendition of the national anthem before members, dressed in their whites, paraded across the green led by a piper.

Lord Mayor threw out the official opening bowl.

“It was what we would call a good shot,” says club membership chair Paul McHoull, “close to the jack.”

It was a cold, damp day, so the break after the first game for tea and refreshments was very welcome, he said, before the more dedicated members headed back out for a second game.

Although the opening of the club is traditionally the last Saturday in April, the weather will delay regular play, he said.

Founded in 1877, the club is the oldest in Canada. Originally the club bowled on a green in what is now Queen’s Royal Park.

In 1922 it moved to a green at the corner of Regent and Johnson St. and in 2011 to an artificial surface at the community centre.

The opening couldn’t have taken place in rain on the old green, he said—bowls thrown on wet grass will damage it. The artificial turf just needs a bit of time to dry out and the game can go on.

This year the club is again offering half price rate for new members to build up membership.

Although the club has grown since its days on Regent St., it loses members every year as they age and are physically unable to play, said McHoull.

A resident of NOTL will be charged $50 for the first year, after three or four free sessions of coaching from one of the members, he said.

“We hope new members will enjoy their first year and come back at our regular price.”

Most enjoy the social aspect of the club as much as the exercise, he said.

Loaner bowls are also available free of charge for the first year. No other equipment is needed except flat-soled shoes and white or pastel-coloured clothing for Saturdays and special events.

The game is fairly easy to learn, said McHoull—the challenge comes from increasing skill levels. Some players move on to more competitive play.

“You will find that lawn bowling offers exercise, fresh air and competition on a level that you are comfortable with.”

There are social activities throughout the season, with teas on Saturdays and a monthly barbecue.

“If you talk to existing members you will find that many of them joined the lawn bowling club after moving to NOTL and soon made a wide circle of new friends.”

For more information call McHoull at 905-468-5648 or email pmchoull@cogeco.ca.

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