Lawn bowling in Toronto
Lawn bowling in Toronto is not an adrenaline rush. It's a different kind of fun, a lazy one. It's a casual game that can be played with a beer buzz, and it's been in Toronto longer than one might think. The first known lawn bowling tournament in Toronto was held in 1902.
Essentially, lawn bowling is a competition about tossing a bowl (a small black ball) close to a jack (a small white ball). A player or team earns one point for each bowl closer to the jack than the nearest opponent. The catch is that the bowls are unevenly weighted to one side, so a straight toss isn't as simple as throwing a bowl straight, because the bowl turns.
Want more details on the rules of the game? Read this. Want to play? Here's a list of places to lawn bowl in Toronto. The city is full of them.
Kew Beach Lawn Bowling Club
Right by Lake Ontario, and in the heart of the Beaches, Kew Beach is a great place to lawn bowl. Membership costs $70 a year, but contact the club and they will arrange some free lessons for you and a free game. Since members and league matches book the club on Saturday and Sunday, it's best to go on a Wednesday or Thursday evening. Why not take a date, watch the sunset, lawn bowl or go on a stroll by the lake after?
12 Lee Avenue, 416.693.8764, # of greens: 8
Toronto Cricket Skating & Curling Club
This Toronto landmark is known for having the first cricket field in the country but it also has bowling greens. It has other options as well, namely cricket, skating, or curling. The club is completely private, so it's only possible to play as a member or as guest of a member--so basically that means sucking up to friends who love cricket. Good luck with that. It's open 7 days a week.
141 Wilson Avenue, 416.487.4581, # of greens: 8
New Toronto Lawn Bowling Club
New Toronto's first lawn bowling tournament was June 24th, 1902. That's older than your nana, which means it's damn old. Next summer, New Toronto will be celebrating their 110th birthday. Unfortunately, the Foo Fighters will not be playing the event, but there will be cupcakes, so it should be a good time. The club is free to try out--call them to arrange some free lessons and a free game. It costs $85 dollars to be a full-year member, and the club is open Tuesday--Saturday.
153 Lakeshore Drive, 416.626.3790, # of greens: 10
The Glebe Manor Lawn Bowling Club
Though the Glebe isn't quite as old as New Lawn, at 87 years old this East York staple is the oldest privately owned lawn bowling club in Toronto. It's $100 for a full membership, but call them and arrange a game for a very small $2 donation. Note: it's the only lawn bowling club in the city that allows barefoot bowlers--not to be confused with nude bowling. The Glebe has a nickel-and-dime rustic feel to it, and they're very welcoming to newcomers. It's open Saturday, Sunday, and Wednesday, and for those new to the game, try it out on Wednesdays.
196 Manor Road East, 647.409.8834, # of greens: 5-6
Lawrence Park Lawn Bowling & Croquet Club
Lawrence Park is the only bowling green that shares its field with croquet, so be sure not to come on Wednesday if you want to bowl, as Wednesday is croquet night. Monday nights are ideal as the club runs coaching evenings for new bowlers, offering an opportunity to work on lawn bowling mechanics (no, that wasn't sarcasm, that was an actual suggestion). It's $75 for a membership, but call them and arrange a game for a small donation of $2.
61 Alexander Muir Gardens, 416.250.8186, # of greens: 12
Willowdale Lawn Bowling Club
Willowdale was one of two locations for this past summer's Canadian Lawn Bowling championship. Now, although there weren't any foam number one fingers sold at the event, I still heard it was a good time. It costs $125 to be a member at the club. Also, while there's a lot of league play at this club, call ahead and they'll set up a free game to play. The club is open seven days a week during the season.
150 Beecroft Road, 416.221.6362, # of greens: 16
Note: All clubs provide their own equipment, at least for the first game and first year of membership.
Writing by Jonathan Neeman. Photo by Metrix Xon Flickr
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