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Hansen: Lawn bowling holds key to sport

May 15, 2013|By David Hansen
  • During its open house last weekend, the Laguna Beach Lawn Bowling club signed up 50 new members.
During its open house last weekend, the Laguna Beach Lawn… (David Hansen, Coastline…)

Most people of a certain age grew up with three of everything — three TV stations, three friends and three sports: football, baseball and basketball.

Now, kids have thousands of limitless TV channels, virtual friends and a wide world of sports that has truly become global.

On any given Sunday, my three boys can do lacrosse, water polo, Jujutsu, sea kayaking or almost any of the 8,000 official sports. Why?

Why not?

When there is lawn bowling in your backyard, why not try it?

The Laguna Beach Lawn Bowling Club held its annual open house last Saturday, where visitors could get a free introduction to the sport.

A great teaching moment, I hauled the boys away from their video games long enough to experience something different.

"No one really thinks about lawn bowling because it's not really in America's eye," said David Grofik, president of the club. "In Australia, England and other places, it's so much more popular because it's so much more publicized. Here, no one really knows about lawn bowling, but I really think it's starting to catch on."

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Saturday's open house proved successful for the club, which gained 50 new members, Grofik said. Every year, the club hosts the U.S. Open of lawn bowling, which will take place Sept. 21 to 27.

"I think what's cool is that all different ages can play it, and it's competitive, so you can have a kid if he really practices, can be as good as someone who is much older," he said. "There's a lot of skill and strategy in the game. It's definitely challenging. It's really fun, I've got to say."

My boys were leery at first — I had to pull the "it's a surprise" routine to get them there — but once they saw the technology behind the "bowl," they were intrigued. If fact, they lit up trying to estimate the arc of the roll.

In case you are unfamiliar, the bowls (or balls) are shaped in such a way that they roll in a curved line, based on which side is facing out.

"It is pretty challenging," Grofik said. "When you see some of the play at the U.S. Open, for example, it's really amazing what they're able to do. It really is."

Historically, the sport attracts an older demographic, but Grofik said that's changing.

"I think now it's starting to get popular with younger people. Our average age has definitely dropped. And that's really great because we're trying to cater to folks who work."

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