If the Big Lebowski switched from lane bowling to lawn bowling, Golden Gate Park would likely be his favorite new hangout. Quirky fits right in at the San Francisco Lawn Bowling Club here, which has been going strong since 1901. Even better, the club offers a complimentary Intro to Lawn Bowling session on Saturdays at noon (including this Saturday, January 11). Think shuffleboard meets curling—or something like that—and get your competitive juices flowing.
The club’s instructors will guide you through the rules, form, and techniques: Step onto the rink (the grassed area), pick up your bowl (aka the ball used in lawn bowling), and roll it down the grass line towards the jack—a small white ball on the opposite end of the line. Here’s the rub: The bowls are actually weighted on one side, causing them to curve as they roll. So you’ll need to employ strategies like the draw shot (trying to get closest to the jack) or the drive shot (a more robust bowl where you try to knock your opponent’s bowl away).
Points are scored based on the number of bowls closest to the jack—and when in doubt, the measuring tape might even come out! Our tip: Don’t aim straight for the jack when you roll out the bowl; instead, try to roll at an angle, aiming wide left or wide right, so it curves. It takes a while to get the hang of it with the weighted bowls, so hang in there and have fun.
The San Francisco Lawn Bowling Club is located at 320 Bowling Green Dr. There is a small parking lot adjacent to the clubhouse. Wednesday and Saturday lessons are free. Be sure to bring flat-soled shoes, a hat or sunglasses, sunscreen, and water.