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Novice Lawn Bowler Jack Bucey lays down a good roll at the Wilson Senior Center. (Photo by Chris Frost)
Thursday, June 6, 2019

By Chris Frost


Oxnard— Seniors competing with the Oxnard-Joslyn Lawn Bowling Club held a fun open house, June 2, where guests were invited to join in the sport of lawn bowling and enjoy an afternoon of fun, laughs, and companionship.


The event featured a great lunch prepared by the members to treat the guests who came in for indoctrination into the club, plus an introduction to the sport of lawn bowling.


Lawn Bowling is a game similar to Bocce, but in that sport, the ball is perfectly round. In lawn bowling, there is a bias on the ball, and the object is to get the closest to an object ball, called the jack.  


The game dates back thousands of years and is enjoyed by seniors in the community.


Club President Art Roberts said all the lawn bowling clubs in the United States usually have one open house a year and the club chose to hold theirs on June 2, rather than Mother's Day weekend.


"We felt that with Mother's Day, we'd give the moms a break and give them the day before and the day itself," he said. 


Roberts said his son, Scott, has been lawn bowling for approximately 10 years and he convinced his father to give it a shot.


"He is a national and internationally rated lawn bowler, and three years ago I picked up the game with my wife, and we enjoy it," Art said. "Scott is heading to Brisbane Australia to play in the world singles championship."


Scott doesn't offer his parents too much advice and tells Art to do what is comfortable until he sees something that needs correction and offers little tips about his bowling style.


"I did the same thing with him when Scott was learning to play golf," Art said. "I let him do whatever he wanted to do, and I gave him little pointers here-and-there."


His best advice to a new lawn bowler is to use a pendulum stroke during the delivery and lay the ball down on the grass.


"If you try and do too much with it, you are going to turn your hand, flip it, and that's going to impart different types of spins, and it won't roll on its circumference," he said, "it's going to go all over the place, and it will take speed off it."


The club enjoys social bowling, he said, so there is not too much trash talking between teams.


"It's not good etiquette," he said. "It's freewheeling here, we all know each other, and we're here for the fun of it, not any blood and guts."


Teams are set up with a blind draw, and people get paired based on their skill and knowledge of the game.


Bowler Jack Bucey started lawn bowling 18 months ago and was following his father, who bowled in Santa Anita, and his father-in-law, who bowled in Oxnard.


"They both ended in the early 2000s, and I knew I was going to do it once I retired," he said. "For the first two years, you're called a novice, and after that, you're called a veteran. I bowl four or five days a week, so I bowl a lot, so I improved quicker than many would."


He attributes his game to practice and muscle memory.


"You can play at any level, high, medium or low, and you'll fit in," he said. "There are different levels of bowlers who play in different positions. There's a lot of people here to help you, and there are marks on the rink."


Bucey wants to be outdoors, and the social environment at the Oxnard-Joslyn Bowling makes it a bonus.


"I was golfing a lot, and I don't have the time to do that," he said. "I was beaten up and tired when I started, but now I am okay, and I am getting in better shape."


Bob Livermont joined the club two months ago at the suggestion of some friends and said he is from Colorado where they didn't offer the sport.


"I thought it was fun, and now I'm up here three times a week," he said. "When you get close to the jack, you get excited, and if someone knocks you away, you're happy for them. It's a good group of people. Some people are good at it, so you get upset with them when they start stealing points."


Susan LaCroix said the novice bowlers are the leads, which means they are the first ones who bowl and are susceptible to being knocked away from the jack.


"You get so proud of yourself because you get right there on the jack, and someone comes up behind you and knocks you right out," she said. "The teams are random, so sometimes there is an all-female team or an all-male team. You can't stack the deck."


Livermont interjected that if the girls beat the guys, they feel like walking home.


La Croix said her friend kept nagging her to try the sport and she enjoys the challenge.


"It's fun, and everyone is so nice, and there's all the laughter," she said. "You get out in the morning; you have a beautiful day, fresh air exercise, good companionship, and a lot of laughs. Even when you walk away feeling like you haven't done well at the game, you still have a good feeling."


Lawn bowling fans can come out every day, except Tuesday and Thursday, starting at noon.


For more information, visit www.oxnardlbc.com.

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