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.
Fifteen Berkeley bowlers made the trip to Palo Alto on Saturday, January 21st, for this year’s battle for the meat axe. Two triples matches were played under crisp, clear winter skies. In the end, it was Berkeley seven, Palo Alto 3 and the coveted trophy was returned to its rightful place in the Berkeley clubhouse.
The Winter League is a favorite of those Bay Area bowlers who feel the need to keep their competitive juices flowing through the bowling calendar’s “off season.” Formerly the San Jose Winter League, it was re-named this year in honor of John Ogden, one of Northern California bowling’s “good guys” and who had been its long-time organizer before his passing in 2014.
At the start of this year’s tournament, members of John’s family were present to remember him, along with bowlers from the teams entered in the competition. John’s Dad, Woody, a US Bowling Hall of Famer himself, ceremoniously rolled the first jack to get the event off and running.
Over three weeks, the 14 pairs teams played an almost round-robin of 12 10-end games. After an uncharacteristically slow start on the first weekend, Jon and Tom Burnoski came through as narrow winners, tying with Berkeley’s Jim Corr and Bob Schwartz on games won (nine), but with a points differential of 98 compared to Jim and Bob’s 96. Larry Collaco and Marcus Zieno (San Jose) took third place, while the team of Frankie Napoli (Rossmoor) and Phil Grattan (Berkeley) came in fourth.
Jon (left) and Tom Burnoski, first place 2015 John Ogden Memorial Winter League
We recently received news that former BLBC president Myra (Kolitsch) Baylor passed away earlier this year. Myra served the club in many ways, including serving as a board member and head of the coaching committee before being elected as the first (and to date only) woman president of the BLBC.
Myra hailed from Appleton, Wisconsin, and grew up in a large family. While a young student, Myra fell ill with scarlet fever and made up for lost school time by becoming a voracious reader and autodidact. She always enjoyed hearing about what other people were reading, and gently encouraged others into reading her favorite authors (she particularly enjoyed Vladimir Nabokov).
In one of her first jobs she worked as an assistant librarian at the public library in her town. She remembered that, when the Great Depression hit, people swarmed to the library for heat and relief from the harsh Wisconsin winter. She recounted that, at the end of the day, people would steal the library’s newspapers to use as insulation in their shoes that night. The head librarian drove herself to distraction trying to protect her newspapers. Myra came up with a solution: instead of trying to protect all the newspapers, Myra made a deal with readers in need: Myra would make sure 1 complete newspaper remained available for the library’s records and she would make all other copies of the day’s newspaper available for the cold night ahead. This story sums up Myra’s character: find a way to do the right thing and find a way to treat people respectfully and compassionately.
Myra went to university to become a professional librarian (with degrees from the University of Wisconsin and Columbia University). She came to the University of California in Berkeley in the 1940s and worked as a librarian into the 1980s. She met her future husband, former BLBC president Bob Baylor, at the Berkeley bowling green. In retirement she also served on the Berkeley Public Library board.
Myra’s commitment to people and ideals made her a superb coach and a great teammate for lawn bowling. She had a keen eye for strategy, and proved that bowls is game for everyone. Stronger and more experienced bowlers mistook Myra’s gentle demeanor for weakness at their peril. She recounted with particular glee the time she skipped a team of, as she called it, “3 little old ladies” against a seasoned team led by a nationally ranked man. Myra instructed her lead to roll two bowls short at every end to cause obstacles for the opposition: Myra’s famous super-wide 3s easily went around the blockers. The little old ladies won. Handily. Anyone who was on the receiving end of Myra delivering a bowl or dropping a run of doubles in dominos knows the mischievous yet charming glint that came to her eyes as she emerged victorious. She was obviously competitive, but valued good play far above winning.
Myra’s bowling legacy continues today: her coaching success can be seen in the bowling accomplishments of many current Berkeley bowlers. Myra provided the energy and inspiration that led to the creation of the special “Low Income or Disabled” and “Student” memberships. Myra was a force of nature and a kind, generous person. The BLBC is lucky she came along and is grateful that she gave so much talent and energy to our club. We offer our belated condolences to Myra’s family.
On Saturday, November 8, the Palo Alto Lawn Bowling Club hosted the Bay Area’s final bowling event of the year. The Ed Arnold Invitational, named for a generous and hard-working past president of the club, was played by fourteen teams of three – that’s 42 bowlers on seven rinks. Each of the 42 entrants played skip, vice, and lead, in rotation, in each of three 12-end games. Teams comprised two men and one woman each, and included representatives from most of the Bay Area clubs. In an unusual twist, no team won all three of its games, though eight teams won two, so the winners were determined by the point differentials.
Winning teams at the end of a vigorous day. From left to right: Ann Brillhart, Shawn Roney, and Cris Benton (1st Place) then Wilfred Wong, Rob Hoey, and Cathy Dinnean (2nd Place).
Berkeley was well-represented by two teams of full members, plus two of our dual members. The rotating format presents a unique challenge, and Berkeley proved up to the challenge! We proudly announce that First Place was won by Shawn Roney, Ann Brillhart, and Cris Benton, who had two game wins and 18 plus-points. Further, Second Place was taken by the Berkeley team of Rob Hoey, Cathy Dinnean, and Wilfred Wong, with two game wins and 10 plus-points.
These wins conclude a fine bowling season for Berkeley, during which we were on the podium at many events throughout the year.
Cris Benton, a Berkeley novice (less than two years’ membership), won the 2014 PIMD Novice Tournament going undefeated over two days of bowling at the Oakland Lawn Bowling Club. Both he and Rob Hoey, another Berkeley novice (and the current PIMD Open Singles Champion, a stellar achievement for a “newbie”) were undefeated on Saturday October 18 and proceeded on Sunday to the round robin final stage along with Lucien Salyk of Oakland and David Peters of Rossmoor. Each match involved unlimited ends with the winner being the first to accumulate 18 points.
In the first Sunday game, Rob played Dave in a 3+ hour game that was tight. Rob fell behind early but battled back right up to the end. Then his luck turned and Dave came through for an 18-16 win. Meanwhile, Cris prevailed 18-8 against Lucien, who had home green advantage.
In the second round the Berkeley duo faced each other in an exciting match in which Cris’s early lead was gradually pulled back by Rob and a further surge by Cris was again chipped away until it was a 17-17 tie. On the final end, Rob, well-known for his mat strategy, had the mat and placed the jack at maximum depth. After his last bowl, and with Cris having one final shot, Rob held two convincing points and the head was such that a draw shot would be tough. Cris resorted to what he describes as “a Hail Mary” and ran the jack into the ditch for the win. In the other match, Lucien defeated Dave 18-14.
In a relatively quick third game, Lucien was successful against Rob, leaving the possibility of a three-way tie—and the need for a further play-off—if Dave were to beat Cris. A very tight and long struggle that stretched into the gloaming saw the outcome poised on a knife edge with the score 17-16 in Dave’s favor. However, despite the gathering dusk and despite wearing sunglasses (not anticipating such a long day, he had forgotten to bring his regular glasses), Cris managed to get three bowls within a foot or so of the jack, thereby offering an inviting target! Dave drove his last bowl at the head, but a slight nick on one of the bowls in the front diverted its path just enough to leave Cris’s three in place and the title his.
Congratulations to Cris and well done to all the novice participants!
Berkeley members John Hooper (skip), Cathy Dinnean (vice), and Wilfred Wong (lead) took first place to win the SFLBC Centennial Cup, beating a large field of twenty teams from all over the Bay Area.
San Francisco provided a beautiful day in Golden Gate Park October 5 for the annual tournament, which is open to all PIMD members, and which celebrates the founding of the oldest lawn bowling club in the USA. The sixty bowlers enjoyed an enticing spread of coffee and bountiful snacks before heading for the greens and playing three 12-end games. The mood was high, and everyone enjoyed the competitions and the friendship. Berkeley was represented by five full members and two dual members.
At the end of the day, only two teams had won all three of their games, and when differential points were considered, the Berkeley team edged out a Palo Alto team by the very narrow margin of three points. As a result, they will get their names engraved on impressive trophy (see photo). Bowlers from the other clubs were generous with their congratulations, and SFLBC ended a great day with more gustatory delights.
BLBC members Ann Brillhart, Cathy Dinnean, and Bob Schwartz were among the prize winners at the 2014 U.S. Open held at various greens in Southern California. Ann and Cathy were part of the fours team (Ginger Harris (PALBC, skip), Mary Scott (SJLBC, vice skip). Cathy Dinnean (BLBC, Second) and Ann Brillhart (BLBC, Lead)) that won the second flight in the women’s fours, and Bob partnered Larry Collaco (Sunnyvale LBC) to the runner-up position in the fourth flight of the men’s pairs. Congratulations to Ann, Cathy, and Bob!
The BLBC is proud to announce that it has been awarded the 2014 Best Retro Sports Activity in the East Bay by the East Bay Express, the free weekly magazine of news and culture. We owe this achievement to the hard work of all who have contributed to the maintenance and promulgation of the Club, not least Dave Rockhold, who insisted we publicize our “retro” appeal, Cris Benton, who devised our snazzy new website that has drawn a lot of viewers, and Ann Brillhart, who has managed the campaign to get groups and companies to use the Club as a venue for parties, team-building sessions and so on. They have been ably assisted by many others, especially those who have devoted hours to coaching newbies, both “walk-ins” to our Saturday and Sunday lessons, as well as the groups, sometimes 50 or more who have enjoyed the Club’s facilities.
To further publicize our status, we have had local graphic designer, Ian Ransley, create a great new Club poster (pictured), which will be prominently featured at our booth for the 40th Annual Solano Stroll on Sunday September 14. The Stroll is one of Berkeley/Albany’s “must” events of the year—a mile long festivity that includes food, music, fun stuff for kids, and many local non-profits. We will be in a prime location—just outside Andronico’s near the north end of Solano Avenue. Members are encouraged to show up (no need for “whites”), lend a hand if you can, but especially bring a non-bowling friend.
The booth will be set up around 9/10am and will be staffed throughout the day until the close of the Stroll at 6pm.
Well, it was deja vous all over again after Palo Alto came to town to defend the Meat Axe. Both teams fielded four teams (with only minimal use of dual members) for the competition. After tasty snacks and a few howdy-dos, it was game on as tournament director Howard Mackey gave us our marching orders. The green was running fast but did present a few challenges to all present.
After the morning session, it was a dead heat – two games won by each club. So, after lunch, we were back at it. Palo Alto seemed unwilling to let go of the trophy and the going got rough. In the end, even though there was an attempted comeback or two, Palo Alto prevailed by winning 3 of the afternoon games.
A special thanks to Cathy Dinnean, Ann Brillhart, Susan Jamart, and Jim Corr for all the behind the scenes work it takes to put on an event like this one.
And finally, Erwin Vista deserves special mention. Not long ago, he was a novice. His performance this weekend and last as a skip was outstanding. Congratulations, Erwin, it was a pleasure to see how fine-tuned your shots have become.
So, as you can see in the picture above, Palo Alto’s VP John Lee was please to take possession of the trophy for another year and President Phil Grattan did his best to look gracious as he shows off the “We Lost” trophy.
Sunday, August 30 saw the second staging of the Bay Bridge Challenge, a tournament inaugurated in 2013 to pit BLBC’s bowlers against their San Francisco counterparts. The format was five 14-end triples matches in both the morning and the afternoon. Unfortunately, the story is short: the West Bay overcame the East Bay with relative ease, winning by a score of 8-2 and thus retaining the trophy they initially captured a year ago. But, as always, it was a pleasure to bowl with our friends in what used to be called the Paris of the West, and in fog-less conditions no less. And, special thanks to our hosts for the treats they provided after the event. There’s always next year…
The Berkeley Lawn Bowling Club promotes the game of lawn bowling for the enjoyment of new and experienced players alike.