THEY LOVE LAWN BOWLS; BUT THEY’RE BIASED!
Some say lawn bowls is an ideal sport for Thailand. That sounds like a rather glib comment but one that can be justified; here are some reasons:
- It’s suitable for a warm/hot/humid climate, day or night without stress or severe exertion.
- It’s cost friendly, without the need for expensive equipment.
- It’s able to be played by all ages, genders and physical abilities.
- It can be learned quickly and played competitively without years of experience.
- And last but not least … it is one of the few sports with jokes about it! (more later)
Don’t be confused with other sports which involve bowling, tossing or otherwise propelling a ball (or bowl) to a designated target. It’s different from 10 pin bowling, pétanque or even cricket (they do bowl a ball in cricket!).
The object is to get as many of your bowls – or your team’s bowls – nearer to the little white ball (the Jack) than your opponents. This is similar in some respects to curling or shuffleboard or bocce. That sounds simple; however blocking bowls and many other tactics will come into play.
It’s played on a tennis court sized ‘green’ either on grass or artificial turf. Your bowls are about 12 to 15cm in diameter and weigh up to 1.5 kg. They are black or brown in colour and are flattened on one side, so that they curve when rolled. They are designed to be propelled with an underarm motion; the skill of the bowler guides the angle of attack and the speed or ‘weight’.
Lawn bowls has been around since the 14th Century, although banned in France and England because archery was losing popularity and soldiers’ archery skills were essential. Probably the most memorable historic moment took place on Plymouth Hoe (in England) on July 15th 1588. Francis Drake insisted on finishing his game before taking on the attacking Spanish warships.
The game is most popular in English language countries such as Canada and New Zealand, along with Australia and the British Isles, but it has also caught on in pockets of Asia, Scandinavia and USA. It’s played in over 40 countries and in the Commonwealth Games since 1930. It’s a huge participation sport wherever it’s played.
Lawn Bowls in Hua Hin
I was invited to join the Saturday morning completion of the Hua Hin Bowls Club. This is the only bowls green in the region and as we understand it, those in Thailand are in Bangkok or Pattaya.
The Club has regular players although the flavour is more social than competitive. That doesn’t mean that ‘bragging rights’ for the winners isn’t important and some friendly banter after the game is a part of the scene over a beer or two.
One of the advantages of lawn bowls is that you can be a part of the competition very soon after your first attempt. Once you understand the influence of the bias of the bowl and get speed and accuracy right you won’t be embarrassed.
This was my first attempt to play a real lawn balls game and I did manage to win a point or two. New players are always welcome either as visitors or perhaps joining the Club.
The Hua Hin Bowls Club is based at Sea Jays Resort, about 6 kilometres inland from Hua Hin. Visit the website for directions and a link to the Lawn Bowls page.
Phone: +66 (0) 833 111 787
As promised – a Lawn Bowl’s Joke!
A little old man boards a bus with a lawn bowls ball in each of his front pockets. He sits down next to a beautiful young lady, and she can’t help but glance quizzically at the man and his bulging pockets. It’s an uneasy few minutes before, finally, the little old man can take no more. “Bowls balls,” he nods reassuringly. The lady seems a little shocked, and stares on. Moments later, she says: “Does it hurt as much as tennis elbow?”