George PerryMountain lawn bowls club looks to grow the sport posted on 07/01/2019
Rhododendron’s Ernie Carlson noted that the sport of lawn
bowls has been around since at least the 1600s and can be found in any country
that was ever part of the British Empire; including the United States. The
sport has a shorter history on the Mountain, with a club that plays at the Mt.
Hood Oregon Resort since 2005, but Carlson hopes to get things rolling, spread
the word and get more people involved.
“It’s been a popular sport throughout history,” Carlson
A passerby might confuse lawn bowls with bocce ball (but
hopefully won’t mention that to those playing lawn bowls), as the two have a
number of similarities: both have a target ball, called a “jack,” and players
try to place their bowls (or balls in bocce) close to the jack in order to
score points. Among the more notable differences is that the bowls in lawn
bowls have a built-in bias that make them curve.
“The fun part of the game is to find out where the heck to
aim,” Carlson said. “That’s the uniqueness of the sport. You cannot aim at your
target, you aim three to eight feet away.”
He noted the local club (which is not formally organized
with officers) first came together thanks to a get-together idea by members of
the garden club, when about a dozen people showed up without even knowing the
“We had a lot of fun, then we went home and had a barbeque
and said let’s do it again,” Carlson said.
A few years later, the group started bowling twice a week,
and the sport took a hold of Carlson, who is now a certified coach and lawn
bowls instructor, a national umpire, spent five years on the national
organization, Bowls USA, and is president of the organization’s northwest
The group gets together every Tuesday and Friday in summer
at 10:30 a.m. (weather permitting), sharing some of the terrain with croquet
Carlson added that the sport is perfect for anyone who
doesn’t want to put stress on their body.
“That’s a big selling point,” he said. “If you can do a
deep-knee bend, you can play. But you get a lot of walking in. If your doctor
says do more walking, play lawn bowls.”
Carlson also plays at the King City Club twice a week and
also enjoyed a successful winter season in Arizona, including second place
finishes in men’s singles at the Palm Creek Club and fourth place in men’s
He hopes to sponsor and hold a tournament locally this year,
noting that he could assemble a team and they would find out how good they
really are, while he also would like to see it gain traction with the Olympics.
“If we could get it to be an Olympic sport, suddenly it
would have an attraction to people,” Carlson said.
But for anyone on the Mountain who’s interested, the bar to
entry is not high. There’s no need to dress up and flip flops are welcome (or
Carlson has extra equipment and is happy to offer a lesson
to anybody who wants one.
“We would love to have more people,” he said, noting he is
also very interested in getting some younger Mountain residents interested. “If
they think it’s fun, they can show up and meet everybody and bowl with us. If
they don’t like it, that’s fine. It’s not for everyone.”
For more information, call Ernie Carlson at 503-622-3573 or
email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Garth Guibord/MT