Family Bowling

Lawn bowling—a family game


This page is intended for prospective club members who are looking for activities they can do as a family group. . .

You may think of bowling either as a social activity or a competitive activity, but for some its defining characteristic is that it is a game that offers families – or couples — an activity for which age or gender does not influence performance.

Bowls is very appealing as a family activity because all generations can play at around the same level.

Bowls can keep you active but it does not require much physical strength or endurance. This means that both genders and all ages can play on equal terms. Adults have to actually try to beat their children at a game; no “pretending to lose” in bowls.

A “family” can be interpreted broadly:

  • All generations of the same family
  • Couples
  • Big Brothers and Big Sisters
  • Groups of friends, young and old – and any age in between.
From a Times Colonist report on 2017 Canadian Championships
(The) Ontario B team’s skip, Wayne Wright, says there’s a good reason he has been lawn bowling for 55 years. . . . “There were no babysitters, so when my parents went to the bowls club, my brother and I went with them and hung out and watched everybody playing,” he said. “There are many examples of four generations of bowlers playing together, great-grandma and all the way down. It really is a sport for life.” Read full article here.

Bowls opens up social opportunities for couples

Couples like the game because they can play at the same level. Successful play does not depend on above average physical strength – or even fitness. All that is required is a precise delivery of the bowl, which nearly everyone can learn through practice.

You don’t have to join the club as a couple. We have a number of examples where one partner has taken out a membership. Maybe a little bit later the other takes out a social membership. Then they finally realize that both of them can play. Or perhaps one has been entirely mystified by the other’s conversation. “I gave it a bit more grass, then I wicked off his bowl and put one just behind the jack and won on the measure . . .” . Better join in and find out what she is talking about!

Retired couples are known to make bowling the centre of their active life and their social life. They travel around Vancouver Island taking in tournaments all over and meeting members of other clubs.

Some snowbirds make a point of going to the best bowling locations in the US, or even as far as Australia, and spend months where the local club becomes a focus of their social life. Once you can bowl, there are literally thousands of clubs around the world where you can be a welcome guest or a full time member,


Bowls is perfect for families

Here are some of the considerations that attracted the members of one family to our club.

  • Multi-generational activity for which age does not determine skill level.
  • It is “easy to do”; it does not require any real planning: What are we going to do today?  Why don’t we all just pop over to the bowling club and have a game? Or the whole family can enroll in a tournament and be occupied for much of the day.
  • It’s affordable: two parents and three children can all be full members for a family total of $12 a week.
  • The club has a comfortable, traditional feel about it. Perhaps it reminds parents of their childhood, in the same way that the Kiwanis tea room at Willows Beach in Oak Bay has a “1950s feel”.
  • It’s also a very good game for single parents and their children. The kids are in a very safe environment, often with lots of  other adults close at hand. Similarly, it can be a very good Big Brother/Big Sister afternoon, pursuing what could turn into a lifelong activity for a disadvantaged child.
  • It is actually quite a cool thing to do for the kids. Teenagers can say to their friends, “Why don’t we  go over to my club for a game?” and not have to spend any money to do so.

Note that it is only partially true that all ages can compete on the same level. Teenagers that practise a lot seem to leave their parents behind quite quickly. In no time, they are competing at the provincial level – which may even encourage their parents to do the same. The father of the 2017 BC Provincials junior champion, became  a champion himself when he won the 2018 BC Provincial Men’s Singles, which this article refers to as “stepping out of his son’s shadow.” There’s hope for parents yet! 🙂

They left their parents behind to earn medals at the 2018 BC Junior Provincials


Grandparents and great grandparents can get very good at this game

We have to admit that most members of our club are retirees and the great majority of them took up lawn bowling for the first time after their retirement date.

Sporty grandparents can soon get up to speed with lawn bowling and short mat bowling, enter tournaments and end up with that victory euphoria of their youthful sports days.

Non-athletic grandparents are often suprised to find they can get very good at this game. People who were mere spectators at sports events in their younger days find out that they have the delicate touch and body control needed for bowls, without the bulging muscles and the fitness training they always associated with sports.

Even very young children can take part

Now Grandad, I want you to take the big round ball and roll it as close as you can to the small white ball. Don’t be afraid, you can do it!

Normally kids need to be about 12 years old before they can handle the smallest ’00’ size of a regular bowl. However, the Oak Bay club does have a couple of sets of children’s bowls that younger children can use, and Bowls BC recognizes that children as young as 6 can play.

Even if they are not actually bowling, it is surprising how even very small children can take part in a game of bowls. They can:

  • Roll or set jacks.
  • Write up the scorecards. (Now they know why their schoolteachers make them do arithmetic!)
  • Manage the scoreboard
  • Play umpire and measure (short) distances from the jack to a bowl. (See . . . measuring things is really useful!)
  • Even act as a “marker” while their parents play a game of singles.

Obviously, where small children play the above roles, those games are “strictly family.”

Note: For insurance reasons, all regular players at the club, of any age, must be members. However, this does not apply to the weekly Friday evening game, which is open to the public.

So waste no more time, get the whole family down to the club for a Visitors Night game, which takes place every Friday during the summer months. Then think about how nice it would be if you were all members and could play at the club whenever you want.