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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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!”

Women’s Fives Team Takes Second Place

Six teams of women comprising members from PIMD and SW divisions assembled at SFLBC for the Women’s Fives Tournament (each team consisted of five women) on Sunday, July 12. It was wonderful to have such a widely represented field of bowlers! Weather can be an issue at SF but that Sunday turned out to be a beautiful day for bowling!

Three women from BLBC (Ann Brillhart, Cathy Dinnean and Sarah Allday) joined forces with Heather Seacrist (SJLBC) and Cheryl Anderson (PALBC). In the morning, one (often reluctant, Ann in this case) team member bowled in the Singles game while the other four teammates bowled in the Fours game. After a break for lunch, two team members (Heather and Cheryl) bowled in the Pairs game, and the other three team members (Cathy, Ann and Sarah) bowled in the Triples game. At the end of a long day of bowling, the ladies were delighted with their 2nd Place win. Well done!

Photo: Sarah Allday, Cathy Dinnean, Heather Seacrist, Ann Brillhart, and Cheryl Anderson

2015 Club Pairs Champs

Ten hopeful bowlers showed up to bowl in the BLBC Pairs Draw Tournament. Before drawing to see who their partners would be, they had to find out who would be skipping and who would be leading. Due to the small number of skips, I had to ask two bowlers who prefer to bowl lead to bowl skip instead. Both graciously agreed to take on the task. After the draw, the teams of John Hooper & novice Hugo Deaux, Lennon Hamilton & Sarah Allday, Cris Benton & Millard Long, Rob Hoey & Ted Crum and Shawn Roney & Ray Francis stepped onto the green. After bowling three 12-end games, the top two teams would bowl for the right to have their names on the Winners’ Board.

Sadly, we had an uneven number of teams, so one team had a bye in each of the three games. On a more positive note: Most of the games were very close. In the third game, four teams were in contention for the top two spots. Shawn & Ray bested Rob & Ted by one point in a very close match. The win put them in 1st place. Cris & Millard won their match against Lennon & Sarah with enough plus points to capture 2nd place. The rinks were changed and the two teams began the game. All four players bowled very well–no great surprise there! At the end of the game, Shawn and Ray prevailed. Well done Shawn and Ray!

An extra tip ‘o the hat to Ray. After 21 years, his name will now–finally, be on the Winners’ Board!

Huge thanks to Susan and Sarah for helping to organize the food and getting the club house ready for the tournament.

Shawn Roney and Ray Francis are 2015 Pairs Champions
Shawn Roney and Ray Francis are 2015 Pairs Champions

George Steedman: Thank You! (1912 – 2015)

The Berkeley Lawn Bowling Club received a letter last week that long time member and former BLBC president George Steedman passed away at his home in Lodi at the remarkable age of 102. George’s obituary in the Lodi News-Sentinel does a very nice job of telling many exciting and worthwhile things George and Helen Steedman accomplished (it is worth a read).

George joined the BLBC in 1969. As the “winners’ board” on the clubhouse wall attests, the Steedmans played bowls very well: from the 1970s to the 1990s, the Steedman name appears frequently among the intra-club events victors. As bowlers, they both were competitive without being flashy and were gracious in victory and defeat. George may have been the best draw bowler this writer ever witnessed, and he freely imparted this advice: “If you have a choice between a heavy shot and draw, choose the draw shot.” And he took his own advice. Frequently advised by seconds to drive, George might deign to go heavy with a “yard on” shot; but never a drive. Usually, though, he stuck with drawing a shot to devastating effect.

Off the green, George served as president of the BLBC in 1983, and Helen could be counted on to provide welcoming hospitality inside the clubhouse. George served many years as chairman of the Memorial and Endowment Fund, and the Fund still benefits from his thoughtful and careful work in this area. In the 1990s, George became chairman of the BLBC’s lease committee, and he patiently and wisely guided the club through the tricky political landscape the club faced at that time. His efforts paid off, and the BLBC received a long-term lease that ensured the club’s continued presence in Berkeley.

After Helen passed away, George continued bowling well at the club before eventually moving to the Lodi area. George always behaved as a true gentleman and his demeanor served to bring out the best in those of us who knew him. Saying “no” to a request from George – a man who did so much for the club — was just about impossible. George’s natural curiosity about the world and its people meant that he was always ready for a good conversation about current events, the economy, the Cal sports teams’ prospects, and many other subjects. The BLBC offers its sympathies to George’s family, but we also remember with gratitude the many years of good bowling and excellent service the Steedmans generously gave to us. Thank you, George!

Young Bowlers Program a Huge Success

Berkeley Lawn Bowling Club initiated its first Young Bowlers Program in April. Twenty-three sixth graders (and one brave teacher) from The Berkeley School were introduced to lawn bowling. Club coaches set up four games of Triples and were on hand to help with learning how to bowl, to explain rules and strategy, and to ensure everyone had a great time. The student’s Physical Education teacher was on thegreen giving encouragement and watching their progress. The students were very enthusiastic and completely involved in the games. No slackers in this group! All the kids were awarded gold medals by their coaches. Our Club plans to continue the relationship with The Berkeley School as part of the School’s regular phys. ed. program. Who knows, maybe a future national champion is in the making?

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