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An introduction to bowls

IT CAN’T be that difficult right? You just throw a ball aiming to get closest to the ‘jack’.

IT CAN’T be that difficult right? You just throw a ball aiming to get closest to the ‘jack’.

Well first off it’s not a ball, it’s a ‘wood’ - or a ‘bowl’. It’s made out of wood or plastic and is weighted on the one side (the side with the dimple).

Being the newbie I was allowed to throw the jack first - a small yellow ball, just a little larger than a cricket ball. It’s quite light and is easy to throw too hard - as I did several times, ending up in the flower bed!

Then holding the wood, the aim was to throw it while keeping the same line as the jack but with less power, or ‘weight’ - keeping one foot on the mat (starting point) when releasing the ball.

You say either ‘thumb’ or ‘finger’ depending on whether the dimple on the jack is touching your little finger or thumb. The ball will (usually) curve towards the side of the dimple.

As social lawn bowls goes - and league for that matter - people tend to play in pairs, that is two against two. Each pair will throw two woods each before the second pair have their throws.

As I threw first, the aim was to simply get as close to the jack as possible. But when I went second or threw in the second pair, the tactic was to avoid the other balls to reach the jack, protect my team’s woods, or just ‘fire’ all the other balls out of the way.

Camaraderie and friendly banter goes hand in hand with concentration as each player took his turn - with some vital tips coming my way too.

As well as judging the weight and line of each throw, I had to try and estimate what the bumps, crevices and patches on the lawn would do to my sling.

The old timers I played with seemed to know every blade of the grass, with my partner letting me know what parts of the lawn would see my ball speed up, slow down or change direction.

When all the bowls have been played, the team closest to the jack gets the points - up to a maximum of three points if no opponent woods are closer. My amateur bowling soon saw our opponents reach the 21 winning points, but I left the lawn content after seeing my last bowl touch the jack - a real improvement!

Solihull Bowling Club is based at the Ramada Solihull Hotel (the ‘George’) in a tranquil setting close to the town centre. The green itself is thought to be one of the oldest in the country, dating back to the 17th century.

Some 60 members enjoy social and league bowling throughout the week and at weekends. If you’re interested in giving it a go - all ages, abilities and experience welcomed - give Mike Cherry a call on 0121 742 4295.

 

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