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Storied club is back in business

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The River Heights Lawn Bowling Club, located at 1360 Grosvenor Ave. near Elm Street, will open for the season following the Victoria Day weekend and new players and members are welcome.


There’s nothing as soothing on a hot summer’s day as hearing the clack of the woods as the bowls collide on a perfectly manicured bowling green.


What is lawn bowling ? Well, it could be likened to curling on grass. Traditionally a bowling green is divided into strips, known as "rinks" and each segment of the game is called an "end."


Instead of having a permanent target like "the house" to aim for, bowlers launch a smaller wooden bowl known as a jack, which then becomes the target to aim for. Like curling, "shots" are scored by how close your bowls are to the jack after the end. For instance, if a competitor has bowled two bowls closer to the jack than their opponent’s nearest bowl, they are awarded two shots. Sound familiar to you curling fans ?


There are various types of deliveries such as a "draw" or a "block" shot.


And the bowls are biased by shape and weight so that when delivered they travel in a curved path.


The game is played in more than 40 countries around the world and can be traced back to 13th century England. Some claim it is even older than that, which makes it a few hundred years older than curling.


And just like curling, there’s the Scottish connection as the home of the game, the World’s Bowls Centre, is located in Edinburgh.


One variation of the game is known a crown green bowling, and as it’s name suggests the green is "crowned" similar to how some golf greens may undulate to present a golfer with a more difficult breaking putt. Crown green bowlers have to contend with a sloping green.

Imagine curling on a sloping rink. Now that would be interesting.


Unfortunately, or maybe I should say fortunately, the River Heights club is a flat green. The facilities are owned and maintained by the City of Winnipeg while the club operates independently.


The River Heights club is now one of seven lawn bowling clubs within the city. It has been in operation for more than 100 years and as such is the oldest continuously operated sports facility in the neighbourhood. The clubhouse was added in 1935 and has been painstakingly maintained and restored to its original condition by club members and is now classified as a Grade III listed building by Heritage Winnipeg.


There are currently 32 members who gather to play mostly informal games with occasional inter-club competitions with the city’s other bowling clubs.


Annual membership is just $65. And if you want to try it out first and see if it’s for you can enjoy a visit "on the house."


All equipment is provided. All you need is a pair of flat soled shoes. Heels are not allowed on the bowling green.


The club will be open for play on every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday at 6:30 p.m. until dark after Victoria Day.


For more info contact club president Richard Strauss at 477-0974 or 488-1256 or visit http://www.bowls.mb.ca/rheights.html .


 Trevor Smith is a community correspondent for River Heights. You can contact him via email at smitht@mymts.net.

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