It may seem premature to post about playing in a competitive game before even discussing bowling technique or the fundamentals of the game but this reflects my experience just a year ago shortly after we had joined the club. The club Open Day was on a Sunday and just the following Thursday I received a phone call declaring the ‘good news!’ that I had been selected to play in their third side in the weekend ‘Pennant’ competition.
‘Pennant’ refers to the inter-club competition run in the Metropolitan area and across the State over 18 Saturdays throughout the bowling season. Club sides are grouped into Divisions according to bowling standard and Sections according to geographic location. Sides comprise four teams of four players. In other words it is a fours competition with each team comprising a Skip, a Third, a Second and a Lead and with each team-member bowling two bowls. Matches start at 1pm, last for 21 ends and typically finish around 4:30pm. Success in this seasonal competition is the major bowling focus of most bowls clubs in this part of the world.
So now, a year on, I would agree that the call was good news. It was a privilege to be asked to represent the club competitively (even if they were desperate for players!) and a huge motivation to learn to play the game and continue to improve. At the time, however, I was less sure. I had bowled my first lawn bowl just four days earlier and didn’t even have the kit required to comply with dress regulations. Nevertheless the caller was persuasive and the following day I was off buying flat soled shoes, white trousers and a club shirt.
That first match was an away match played on grass. Now you might think that lawn bowls is always played on grass but in fact there are a variety of artificial surfaces that can be used and our home green is itself an artificial surface – a kind of outdoor carpet. Typically this change of surface would disadvantage the visiting team, although in my case I had hardly become used to any surface. Perhaps that is why I had some notable success early in the game, although I did fade a little towards the end. Nevertheless I was told that my performance had been noted as outstanding – at least to some degree. This was certainly an enjoyable and encouraging start. The following week however would be a different story!