Welcome

GO OUT AND PLAY!
FREE LESSONS SATURDAY & SUNDAY, 10 UNTIL NOON.

VOTED BEST RETRO SPORTS ACTIVITY BY READERS OF EAST BAY EXPRESS
Check it out!

We provide the equipment; all you need is flat bottom shoes. Just drop by.

Classes also available by appointment – Call Jim at 510 644 2249.

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The 2015 Schedule is available on the events tab!

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Outdoor bowling on a bowling green is a classic sport that goes back hundreds of years and continues today in Berkeley. The retro sport we love is modern day fun out in the fresh air. Walt Disney was an avid lawn bowler.

Please, stop by and check out the action be it lessons or just to watch on Wednesday or Friday afternoon. EVERYONE IS WELCOME!

Already know how to bowl? Day use fees for lawn bowling are just $5 per day for Berkeley residents and $5.50 for non residents. Phone (510) 841-2174.

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Draw games for members and guests are normally held on Wednesday and Friday. Please arrive or call by 12:15. Games begin at 12:30. Spontaneous draw games, practice sessions, and special sessions have become quite common.

If you are interested in having your own special event at our facility, please contact us or drop by during one of the draw games. Our facilities can accommodate around 50 people for receptions, meetings, or team building events. We can provide bowling instruction or simply a rental venue with cooking facilities.

Map and Directions

Check out our tongue-in-cheek video for a quick look at lawn bowling Curling (without the ice) Check the links page for even more information.

BLBC is a proud member of PIMD (Pacific Intermountain Division) of Bowls USA.

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Berkeley bowlers—and partner—bring home gold…again

Gold Medal Winners (l-r): Jim Corr (skip), Bob Schwartz (lead), Frank Matyskiela (second). Photo: Martha Mckee
Gold Medal Winners (l-r): Jim Corr (skip), Bob Schwartz (lead), Frank Matyskiela (second). Photo: Martha Mckee

Jim Corr and Bob Schwartz of Berkeley, together with Frank Matyskiela of Palo Alto LBC, took first place in the Sonoma Wine Country Senior Games for the second year in a row.

The games were held June 10-11, as last year, at the Oakmont Lawn Bowling Club in Santa Rosa and attracted teams from as far away as St. George, Utah and Fresno, CA as well as from around the Bay Area. A strong contingent of Oakmont bowlers also participated.

The format differed slightly from last year and allowed all 16 teams to participate fully on Day 2. Saturday, the top eight teams from Friday played a random draw of three 10-end games for Gold and Silver, while the bottom eight teams played off for the bronze medal. By lunch time, three Bay Area teams had won both their morning games. The San Francisco trio won their third game quickly, but with the knowledge that the winner of the Berkeley/PA – all Palo Alto matchup would almost certainly take first place because of a superior points score. As it turned out, after a close start, Jim, Frank, and Bob established a solid lead which Ian, Ginger, and Grace could not catch. In the bronze playoffs, a team from the Leisure Town club in Vacaville—with the delightful name of “Back Bowls Bobs and Marge”—came through for the medal. As an added bonus, this year all medal winners were also presented with a bottle of 2012 Russian River Valley Reserve Zinfandel from St. Anne’s Crossing, one of Sonoma County’s high-quality vineyards. As an anonymous bowler was heard to comment drolly: “You can’t drink a medal!”

A good competitive tournament, very well organized by the Oakmont Club, played in fine bowling weather (unlike last year when temperatures soared well into the 90s). What can be wrong with that? And as side note, the Oakmont Club has requested to re-join the PIMD after some years absence, so here’s hoping to see more of their players at tournaments around the region.

The winning teams (l-r): SILVER: Rod Arriaga, Robb Pawlak, Rita Arriaga "Team Triple R" San Francisco; GOLD: Jim Corr, Bob Schwartz, Frank Matyskiela "Bay Area Bowlers" Berkeley; BRONZE: Margie DuSell, Bob Beksel, Bob DuSell "Back Bowl Bobs and Margie" Vacaville (Leisure Town). Photo: Martha McKee
The winning teams (l-r): SILVER: Rod Arriaga, Robb Pawlak, Rita Arriaga “Team Triple R” San Francisco; GOLD: Jim Corr, Bob Schwartz, Frank Matyskiela “Bay Area Bowlers” Berkeley; BRONZE: Margie DuSell, Bob Beksel, Bob DuSell “Back Bowl Bobs and Margie” Vacaville (Leisure Town). Photo: Martha McKee

Berkeley bowlers perform strongly at regional championship, Jim Corr takes title

Berkeley bowlers put in a strong performance at the PIMD Men’s Singles Championship event and Jim Corr  came home with the 2016 title. (PIMD is the Pacific Inter-Mountain Division of BowlsUSA, comprising clubs in Northern California, Utah, and Hawaii).

The competition, held at the Sunnyvale Lawn Bowling Club the weekend of May 14-15, brought together 16 of the top players from all over the Bay Area. Eight contestants at the end of Day 1 went on to the Championship “A” and “B” Flights on Sunday, with the next four being placed in the “C” Flight and the lowest four in the “D” Flight. In his first game Sunday morning, Jim got off to a good start, beating Miguel Roliz of Rossmoor LBC, the only player who had defeated him on Saturday. This set up a semifinal match against Cris Benton, a fellow Berkeley bowler, that turned into a nail-biter. Jim took an early lead only to see Cris draw level and then surpass him to reach a 17-13 lead. With 18 points being the winning goal, Jim had to dig deep, but eventually managed to prevail by the narrowest of margins, eking out an 18-17 victory.

The final again matched two Berkeley bowlers against each other. Jim faced Frankie Napoli, a dual member of Berkeley and the Rossmoor Club. While not as close as the semifinal, the match nevertheless proved a tough one, Frankie coming within two points (13-11) of leveling the score, but Jim held on to take the game by 18-13 and the 2016 title.

Overall, with Rob Hoey winning the “B” Flight, Berkeley members ended up with four of the top five spots, a great showing. Congratulations to all.

Berkeley participants at 2016 PIMD Men’s Singles Championships. From left: Jim Corr, Des Simpson, Cris Benton, John Hooper, Rob Hoey, Frankie Napoli.
Berkeley participants at 2016 PIMD Men’s Singles Championships. From left: Jim Corr, Des Simpson, Cris Benton, John Hooper, Rob Hoey, Frankie Napoli.

When We Close for Maintenance…

We really mean it. On Friday, May 6, several hearty BLBC members hauled little cores of wet turf off the green to make it ready for receiving sand.

On Sunday morning (May 8) a mostly new crew came to shovel sand into the sander’s basin. It was physical labor that required over a dozen loads of sand to cover the green.  Each time the sander returned to the sand shed, the team filled the sander.  After a few loads, the team managed to refill the sander in under 2 minutes.  They felt like an Indianapolis 500 pit crew!

Next came spreading and sweeping the sand. As the pictures show, being a self-supporting lawn bowling club requires the work of fellow bowlers. The results will make the bowling better. Keeping the green running well is not magic, but hard work. Thanks to the teams who made this work happen!

The cores taken from the green were heavier than usual this time because of the recent rain.
The cores taken from the green were heavier than usual this time because of the recent rain.
The sand shed was around half full when the crew started!
The sand shed was around half full when the crew started!
Where the sand went.
Where the sand went.

The Meat Axe Stays in Berkeley – 2016

A beautiful day on the green! Fifteen players from Berkeley faced fifteen players from Palo Alto. The clubs were tied after the morning game (2 wins each, plus a tie), but Berkeley prevailed in the afternoon, and once again, the Meat Axe trophy will be displayed on the our wall. Congratulations to the crowd below; every team won at least one game. Special thanks to Shawn, directing his first inter-club event, who was totally organized and ran a great show!

But at least as important, many members helped make the day particularly successful. During the days preceding  the event, the ditches were weeded, the grass and surrounding paths were swept, the gate was cleared, and the weeds were mowed. On Saturday, particularly nice snacks were laid out, flowers were the vases, coffee was made, and bowlers were there to greet our guests. At the end, a thorough cleanup happened as if by magic due to the many hands who participated. I’m not attempting to name all names because so many helped, even some members who did not bowl, and I don’t want to miss anyone.

BLBC can be proud of putting on a fine event!

Berkeley Bowlers Dominate, Triumph in 2016 Winter League

The John Ogden Memorial Winter League is a fun but highly competitive tournament held each year during the bowling “off season.” John was a much-loved bowler, who, with his dad Woody Ogden (a US Bowls Hall of Famer), organized the tournament for many years. John passed away a couple of years ago and the tournament, originally the San Jose Winter League, was re-named in his honor.

This year, as before, the tournament attracted bowlers from all over the Bay Area, but Berkeley fielded easily the largest number from a single club, with almost a third—nine out of 28—of the entrants. And perhaps even more impressive, Berkeley teams ended up taking three of the four top spots.

The tournament, which was held at the Sunnyvale club, was organized as a 13-game round robin, there being 14 teams in total, and was played over three weekends in January. Unlike the last couple of years when the drought and mild temperatures made a bit of a mockery of the title, this year the event lived up to its billing as the Winter League. Rain jackets and extra layers were needed on the first couple of Saturdays, but the intermittent showers did not dampen the spirits of the participants or lessen their competitive urges.

BLBC 2016 Winter League bowlers
BLBC 2016 Winter League bowlers

At the end of two weeks, the top spot was held by Frankie Napoli (a joint Rossmoor and Berkeley member) and his partner Dave Peters (Rossmoor) with Berkeley pairs Shawn Roney/Rob Hoey and Jim Corr/Bob Schwartz in hot pursuit. However, on the final Saturday, Frankie and Dave’s hitherto stellar mojo left them (they had lost only one game up to that point) and they faded in the stretch. This allowed Shawn and Rob to edge into first place ahead of Jim and Bob by the narrowest of margins—one game point, gained when they held Ginger Harris and Janet Mednick (subbing for absent Mo Shooer) to a draw, while Jim and Bob lost to the same team.

In the final standings, Shawn and Rob placed first, Jim and Bob second, and Berkeley duo Erwin Vista and Ann Brillhart sneaked past Frankie and Dave with a come-from-behind run to snag fourth place. Third was taken by Mario Giorgianni and Ron Marier of San Jose LBC.

Congratulations to all the Berkeley bowlers, and thanks to all those who helped organize and maintain this event despite the fickle wintry season!

Lucille McGuire: Bowler and Friend

Lucille McGuire passed away on October 18 in San Luis Obispo, where she lived near her daughter and grandchildren for the last several years. She was 92 years old. Lucille joined the Berkeley Lawn Bowling Club in 1983 and served the club as a board member and secretary for many years. She also worked on the coaching and hospitality committees.

Lucille was born in Martinez, but was by all other measures a Berkeley native. She attended the University of California and raised a family on Ensenada Avenue in North Berkeley — just a short walk from her childhood home on the other side of Colusa Avenue. She liked to tell the story of her family piling into her father’s car and driving across the Bay Bridge the day it opened. Her father missed a turn, and they wound up driving to San Francisco on the lower deck, which was then just for passenger trains and large trucks (“He wasn’t a very good driver,” she would dryly remark.).

In some ways, Lucille was born into a Berkeley that began to disappear in the post-war era, but she cherished her hometown and knew Berkeley was special. She volunteered at the gift shop of Herrick Hospital, and she surprised several of us when she told us she had been involved in a protest at the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant (San Luis Obispo County) in the 80s. Lucille didn’t blink from doing what she thought was right.

As a bowler, she played competitively for many years. Her “little birdie” zero heavyweights were a welcome sight on the greens of the Bay Area. She eagerly signed up for tournaments and saved many teams’ chances with her delicate touch. As a second, she provided thoughtful advice on how to turn an end to her team’s advantage. As much as she enjoyed playing bowls, she also relished the camaraderie of friends. Several times after playing in the heat of Rossmoor, Lucille happily joined her Berkeley bowling mates at PJ’s (a dive in El Sobrante) to knock back a martini on the way home. In the BLBC clubhouse, she played an intense game of dominoes and helped keep the club’s hospitality committee running. She became something a card sharp at our monthly poker games, frequently coming out ahead in the money. There were affectionate groans around the table whenever she called her game: “No Peekie.”

Lucille married a veteran of World War 2, William McGuire, and she proudly accompanied Bill to many reunions of his Army Air Corps comrades. Bill died in 2003 (after over 50 years of marriage), and Lucille moved to San Luis Obispo to be closer to family a few years later (she was a proud parent and even prouder grandmother).

Lucille held her friends and herself to very high standards; you never had to wonder where you stood with her. She knew that a club like the BLBC depends on the diversity of its members: she did not have to agree with everyone she met (and she didn’t), but anyone who came to bowl earned her good will and respect. She was fiercely loyal to her family, friends, town, club, and game. We offer our condolences to Lucille’s family and remember Lucille fondly for her contributions to the history and the legacy of the Berkeley Lawn Bowling Club. Lucille’s and Bill’s ashes are buried in a plot at the San Francisco National Cemetery in the San Francisco Presidio, near her parents’ grave site and within easy view of the Golden Gate Bridge.

John Spiers remembered (1928 – 2015)

Long time Berkeley Lawn Bowling Club member John Spiers passed away on October 2, 2015. John was 87 years old and his health recently had begun to fail.

John joined the BLBC in 1993 and for many years local bowlers counted him among the club’s and the PIMD’s best bowlers. Not that he would have told you that: John’s wry and self-effacing wit put less-skilled bowlers at ease while giving himself the freedom to play brilliantly. As a skip, his teams relied on his ability pull the fat from the fire. As second, he provided solid, aggressive, and – when needed — hilarious advice to his skip (this writer can personally attest to this). Whatever role John played and whatever the outcome of his play, he always exhibited good sportsmanship and the simple enjoyment of the game of bowls. He quickly forgot the stings of losses and the pleasures of wins (though he would be the first to tell you that winning a game was pretty satisfying).

John came to us by way of the Richmond Lawn Bowling Club, but he hailed from Glasgow, Scotland. And there was no doubt that he was a true son of Glasgow. John was a private man not prone to boasting, but he did like to tell stories; he must have had hundreds of them. John lovingly told tales from his childhood about his neighborhood and its characters. He selectively shared stories from his time as a soldier in a Scottish regiment (he somehow managed to find something humorous out of being in Palestine when all sides seemed intent on shooting soldiers from the United Kingdom). He told about trips he’d taken and great games of bowls he’d won, lost, and witnessed. Most who knew John, though, probably remember him for his love of jokes. Conversations with John usually began with him saying, “Hey, I heard this joke…” John had a wide-ranging appetite for jokes, some better than others. But he was never cruel or unkind to anyone absent; and he had no patience for others who might want to gossip. Some might say John did not suffer fools gladly: he certainly did not suffer them silently.

Off the green, John was a generous man in providing rides for fellow bowlers to other greens, sharing drams of whisky (note the spelling) after an afternoon of draw games, and contributing to the craic of the group. He was a great bowler and an even greater friend of the Berkeley Lawn Bowling Club. One of John’s last visits to the BLBC happened on September 19, when he came to watch the club’s intra-club triples games. Though not well, he was 100% John Spiers that day: with jokes, stories, and bowling all around. We extend our condolences to John’s family, and we already miss him terribly.

AAA visits

Annie Brillhart’s perfect blend of entrepreneurship and proselytization continues this year. Take for example Monday’s lovely event that introduced a dozen new folks to our game while providing critical financial support for the club. From Annie’s report:

“This afternoon we hosted 12 regional reps from AAA. We divided them up into three pairs games, and we had enough coaches on hand to make sure all our guests not only had a great time, but also had a proper introduction to the game of bowls. As always, everyone had a great time!

Huge thanks to coaches Cathy, Ted, Phil, Jim and Erwin. We couldn’t hold these events without our volunteer coaches!”

The Berkeley Lawn Bowling Club promotes the game of lawn bowling for the enjoyment of new and experienced players alike.