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George Perry
Mountain 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 said.

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 rules.

“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 division.

The group gets together every Tuesday and Friday in summer at 10:30 a.m. (weather permitting), sharing some of the terrain with croquet players.

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 doubles.

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 bare feet).

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 ecarlson6@frontier.com.

By Garth Guibord/MT

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