The mercury in the thermometer may be near freezing these days – and on the days it isn’t, it’s often raining – but that hasn’t stopped members of the White Rock Lawn Bowling Club from keeping their skills sharp.
Despite being what many would consider the off-season, the long-standing club – which has been in operation since 1935 – remains open and is as busy as ever, not just filled with its own members, but members from other Lower Mainland clubs whose home turfs have closed for the winter.
The White Rock club, located at Dolphin Street and Royal Avenue, is open year-round because its playing surface is carpet, as opposed to real grass.
The club currently has about 130 members – 90 of whom president Rollie Cook described as “active” – though Cook admits that membership numbers have dwindled “a little bit” in recent years.
This year, the push is on to sign up new members who’ve maybe never though to give the sport a try.
“At our club, here, we’re kind of tucked away – we aren’t front and centre for people to see,” explained Cook, who only took up the sport a few years ago.
“And when people think of lawn bowling, they say, ‘Oh, that’s just a bunch of old farts.’ But we’re getting some younger members, and trying to get more.”
When it comes to recruiting new members who, in the past, may not have thought to give the sport a try, Cook points to himself.
The Peninsula senior took up the sport just a few years ago, as a way to continue to stay active. It also serves as an outlet for his competitiveness, which has not waned as the two-time Grey Cup champion football player has aged.
As a linemen on the Edmonton Eskimos, Cook won back-to-back Canadian Football League championships in the mid 1950s.
“And I’m still pretty competitive. Maybe too much,” he laughed.
And while there are many lawn bowlers – both at the White Rock club and the city’s other club, Mann Park – who compete in tournaments such as provincials and nationals, Cook is quick to trumpet the social aspect of the sport, too.
“Our club has produced more medals over the years than almost anyone, but not everybody wants to be a gold-medal winner. It’s just a fun place to meet people,” he said, adding that after originally bowling a few times a week, he now founds himself at the club far more often.
“Seven days a week, for goodness sake,” he laughed.
The club’s winter season began in early January, and continues until March 27. For more on the club, call 604-536-2616.