Category Archives: Club Members

Membership has its privileges

Berkeley bowlers fare well in Senior Games

The 2014 Senior Games (hosted by the Palo Alto Lawn Bowling Club) was, as anticipated with so many great bowlers, full of exciting matches. There were several games that were tied at the last end. This year two BLBC members won medals. Our own Bob Schwartz and his partner, Larry Collaco, won the gold medal in pairs. (Well done, Bob!)Gold medal winners

Our other BLBC member, Ann Brillhart, above, won a silver medal in triples with teammates Bud Birkenseer and Sam Hebert. Bud, Sam and Ann won the bronze medal last year. Let’s hope they can win the gold next year!


Berkeley Jamboree 2014

Which would it be? The first definition of jamboree in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary is “a noisy or unrestrained carouse.” This seemed improbable as I watched 42 bowlers from around the Bay Area arrive for the 2014 BLBC Jamboree. To the neighborhood’s relief definition no. 2 –  “a large festive gathering” –  was more applicable for our fine day of bowling under pleasant skies. jamboree 2014-101Holding court in front of a clubhouse festooned with banners and ruffles, Tournament Director Howard Mackey orchestrated event logistics using naught but the notes on two sheets of paper. The format was three rounds of 10-end triples, matches that provided participants with new teammates and a new rink for each game. In testimony to the Greens Committee’s hard work, the rinks bowled well (for the most part) and those challenged by the peripheral lanes met that challenge with good cheer (again, for the most part). jamboree 2014-106At the end of day some folks were up in points; others down. But all had enjoyed a fine day of bowling in good company and, of course, ice cream. jamboree 2014-104

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!

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.

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?