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Vezina is bowled over at “Leaside’s best-kept secret” I'll Try Anything Once!

Lawn bowling in action at the Leaside Lawn Bowling Club open house.

Lawn bowling in action at the Leaside Lawn Bowling Club open house. Photo By Karli Vezina.

My latest escapade had me “summoned” to the Leaside Lawn Bowling Club at Hanna Rd. and Parklea Dr. I was invited to the open house so off I went to bowl – outside! When I arrived I saw lovely greens and people everywhere – but no bowling pins. How does one bowl without pins? This would be my journey for the next couple of hours.

Fun fact #1: Lawn bowling is very similar to curling, minus the ice and the falling. After a few rounds with publicity liaison and patient teacher Gloria Paisley, I was feeling this game and liking what I saw.

Lawn bowling is played on a flat grass surface (the green), with teams delivering a bowl (not a ball) down the green towards a target called a “jack.” Players take turns throwing with the goal of getting their bowls as close to the jack as possible. Points are awarded to those with bowls closest to the jack. Gloria loves introducing lawn bowling to new players and calls the greens “Leaside’s best-kept secret.”

The green is divided into parallel, equal length “rinks,” so multiple teams can play side by side. As for the bowls, you may be envisioning your favourite cereal dish being tossed across the lawn with no regard for safety, but you’d be wrong!

A bowl is much like a dense leather ball, except it’s slightly flatter and heavier on one side. The weighted side, marked by a small symbol, is called a “bias.” Bowls don’t roll in a straight line. Like curling, these objects curve inward on the weighted side when thrown, leaning towards the direction your bias is facing. This is what makes it interesting. Still with me?

Fun fact #2: Some lawn bowling terms are also used in curling, such as: the hog line (the marker for the minimum distance travelled), the centre line, ends (rounds played), and delivery (meaning to throw the ball/stone). The players’ positions are also the same, like the lead (first player) and the skip (team captain), for example. You may remember when your fearless columnist dove into the world of curling last November? Thanks to the Leaside Curling Club, I was familiar with the words being thrown around the greens.

Gloaria teaches Karli how to deliver a bowl. Photo By Mary Louise Matthews.

Gloaria teaches Karli how to deliver a bowl. Photo By Mary Louise Matthews.

Many Leaside curlers join lawn bowling in the off-season to keep fit, and with so many similarities,

I can see why. After my lesson, I was feeling limber and loose, but the bowls and I were not getting along. My throws were mostly too heavy-handed or too light, too crooked or too straight. I had not yet unlocked the secret to lawn bowling success, but Gloria assured me this was normal.

“When you start, you’re all over the place,” she said. “Then you realize that there is a strategy to it and your competition is really with yourself because you’re trying to improve.” I had the “all over the place” part down, so it seemed I was on the right track.

For people who want to check out lawn bowling in Leaside, the LLBC offers a complimentary four-time pass with coaching before joining as a member.

Located in Talbot Park with over 150 active members, Leaside’s year-round lawn bowling club is owned by the City of Toronto but run by members on a volunteer basis. The LLBC offers social and competitive games in affiliation with the Ontario Lawn Bowls Association and Lawn Bowls Canada. The Leaside lawn bowling season runs from May until September with games in the morning and evening to suit your schedule.

This game is really rocking the nation. There are 127 lawn bowling clubs in Ontario across 16 districts, totalling over 5,600 members. Clubs exist across 10 provinces, with more than 200 lawn bowls clubs across Canada. If you’re looking to celebrate Canada 150 with something new, find your local lawn bowling club and give it a shot!

What’s next? Send suggestions to tryanythingleaside@gmail.com and let us know!

For more info: www.leasidebowls.ca, www.olba.ca, Bowler’s Handbook 2017, Bowls Canada Boulingrin, www.bowlscanada.com.