SORRY, there will be no lessons on April 19. We are hosting a tournament for all bay area bowling clubs. It’s our annual Berkeley Jamboree.

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.


The 2014 Schedule is now available on the events tab!


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.


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.


turf after plugging

The green is aerated and ready to bowl!

There has been a lot of activity down at the bowling green! First, it was scarified in four directions. Then it was aerated, sanded and seeded. After a brief rest, it was mowed on Tuesday followed by being screened and rolled on Wednesday.

This afternoon, 4/9/14, the green was bowling well – a little slow perhaps, but the sand is under control.

Get out there and have some fun!

There’s a signal for that!

One of the nice things about lawn bowling is the peaceful nature of the game! None of that incessant clatter of bowling pins and balls being launched.

Ann is asking that I move the jack 6-8" toward the center line.
Ann is asking that I move the jack 6-8″ toward the center line.

Ideally, much of the necessary communication between the skip and his/her team, can (should?) be handled with easy to see hand signals. The most common signals are exchanged during the centering of the jack when the lead stands on the mat and shows the skip which direction and how much to move the jack to get it on the centerline. Hands apart, above the shoulders, both held on the side of the body the jack should move indicate the direction and magnitude of the move. Hands apart, move it further; hands closer together, move it a little. Then, when it’s right, the well-known field goal signal.

Reporting the score is another thing best handled with hand signals. The lead or vice-skip reports the points to the skip on the other end of the green as follows: If your team scored 3 points, use your right hand to pat your left shoulder 3 times; If you team lost those 3 points, slap your thigh3 times slowly. In both cases, move slowly and try to be sure the skip is watching.

There are many more useful hand signals – seek them out. Use them whenever possible instead of hollering back and forth. If you really need to talk, the person in possession of the mat can visit to the head to see the situation.



Improving your delivery

The ‘perfect’ delivery may be a bit elusive, but let’s try to describe one. The bowler has taken the mat, examined the situation in the “head” [where the jack is], decided to bowl forehand or backhand, and has visualized the outcome. While all that was going on, s/he has recalled surface irregularities and whatever other conditions might have changed since the last bowl was delivered.

So, what constitutes a good delivery, aside from one that gets the bowl to the right place? Like most sports, the magic comes when the bowler can reproduce the delivery the same way each and every time. The pendulum-like back swing is controlled and smooth. The grip is firm and the bowl is properly aligned in the hand. Reproducibility is the magic word!

In the cartoon below, consider the two release points [at the circles that represent bowls]. In the upper release, the bowl is released at some elevation above the surface. The higher the release, the more energy is wasted by impacting the surface – THUMP. This undesirable habit is called “dumping” and is hard to reproduce time after time.

In the lower line, the bowl is released at the bottom of the arc, quite close to the grass surface. Little or no energy is lost to the collision of bowl and surface. Properly done, it’s almost silent.

Dumping graphic

Here’s an actual delivery by Jim Corr that shows his refined form.

Jim Corr delivering a bowl

So, to improve your delivery, practice bending your knee to get down closer to the green. Use your “other” hand to stabilize your stance by placing it on the knee you step forward with [the left one for a right-handed bowler], and release the bowl just above the surface. SWOOSH, not THUMP. And, of course, PRACTICE often, and THIMK ;-)



Report on Sanding the Green

The club’s hard working Greens Committee provided, via an Annie Brillhart e-mail, a post-sanding update on the green condition:

Jose mowed, plugged and sanded the green today. As promised, he brought a heavy duty blower and attempted to remove as much of the “top” sand as possible. He left quite a bit of sand at the north end (nearest the equipment shed) because he fertilized that area. The rest of the green is sandier than I expected, but Jose will continue to remove the “top” sand every Tuesday and Friday. He assures me that “most” of the green will be in great shape in time for the Jamboree tournament. He said that pesky “east” section might take a little longer, but we typically avoid bowling in that section already.

As to bowling: You can commence bowling tomorrow (Sunday). Please bowl North-South. It will be sandy, but not as sandy as it usually is this soon after he plugs and sands.

Kudos to these club members who meet the daunting challenge of green maintenance head on!


As an extra treat here is a rare photograph of Annie in an (almost) idle state – it lasted all of 30 seconds.

WWW site migration underway

BLBC Jamboree, April 2013

Please be patient as we rebuild the Berkeley Lawn Bowling Club WWW site in a new, fresh server space. Stay tuned for the new look. Hmmmm, come to think of it if you are reading this you can see the new look already.

Update:  8 April – the redesign and relocation of our WWW site is near complete. If you notice anything amiss please bring it to the attention of me or Dave Rockhold.



President’s Newsletter for April

Several of the items discussed in the recent board meeting were:

The Board unanimously recommended that Clause 5 of the Constitution be amended to eliminate the restrictions on participation by low income or handicapped members in the governance of the club. The current wording is out of date and does not reflect the spirit of the club. These members will continue to be eligible for a reduced membership fee. The actual change to the Constitution will require a vote of the membership and will be taken up at the next Annual Meeting.

Cris Benton has been working with Dave Rockhold on reformatting the BLBC website. It will go live very soon and I encourage everyone to visit the site and see the changes. I will send out an email when the site is up and running. The website is also a wonderful way to keep everyone informed of what is occurring at BLBC.

Alan Kaplan has kindly consented to take charge of restocking the refrigerator relieving Dave Rockhold of one of the many jobs Dave does to keep the club running.

Just a reminder: our PIMD representatives for 2014 are Geoff Chandler and Gary Knox. Howard Mackey has decided to retire as a representative and deserves a warm round of applause for the many years he has committed to this activity.

We need to be more attentive to using and caring for the green, particularly by altering the direction of play on a regular basis. The board decided to reinstitute an old system for determining direction of play on the green, and we will shortly post the system inside the door of the mat room, so that it will be easily available and visible when setting up the rinks. If properly followed, the use of this system will reduce the wear and compaction of the green, especially at the edges. In the meantime, please follow the recommendations sent out in a recent email by Ann Brillhart on behalf of the Greens Committee.

In May, Phil Grattan and Neil Levy will meet with representatives of Berkeley’s Parks and Recreation Department to begin renewal negotiations on BLBC’s lease with the city.

The April and March birthday party is scheduled for April 26th, the last Sunday in April. Four of us celebrate our birthdays this month: Phil Grattan, John Hooper, Katie Mordarski and Frankie Napoli. The four March celebrants are Howard MacKey, Dave McMullin, Bob Schwartz and Des Simpson. With both months represented we should have a festive crowd. The club will provide coffee and dessert. Bring your own lunch at noon to be followed immediately by bowling.



Get a grip!

We all need a better grasp of the basics of our game. One of the first things you’ll do as a new student will be to find a bowl that fits your hand. The coaches will ask you to hold a bowl using only the thumb and middle finger of both hands around the large circumference. If your finger tips just meet comfortably, that’s the right size.


Side view – a consistent grip aids delivery.


Front view - Note vertical position of the bowl.

Sometimes a coach will give you a slightly smaller bowl as a beginner to enable a stable grip. How you hold the bowl will affect the way the bowl rolls once it’s released. In the photographs above, you can see one way to hold to bowl to maximize consistency. As you develop your skills, you’ll want to make simple things like the grip as automatic and stable as you possibly can.



Notes on the Green

New initiative: Let’s vary rink layout

The Greens Committeee has determined that, for the integrity of the green, bowling should adhere to a schedule of alternative directions on certain days of the week. Rinks need a chance to recoup in the areas where mats, bowls and feet are placed–typically two to six meters from the ditch. Please note the schedule below and maintain this schedule when bowling ladder games as well as draw games. In other words, you will need to be prepared to bowl east-west if that is what the schedule calls for on the day of your match.

 Set rinks to run North-South on:


 Set rinks to run East-West on:


Upcoming Green Maintenance – April 5 & 6

It is that time again.  Phil relays:

We have asked Jose to plug and sand the green on Saturday April 5th.  This will adversely affect play for approximately a week. So, there will be no draw games scheduled until Friday April 11. Also, because of this, the birthday party scheduled for March will be postponed until April 27th and combined with the April party. We very much regret this inconvenience, but trust that you will understand that maintenance of the greens is a major priority.

So, the grounds crew will plug and fill the green with a bit of leveling flourish here and there. We will have sandy rinks for a few days thereafter. Now, where are those old bowls?

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