We joined Brenda Bennett, the Sevenoaks & District Indoor Bowls Chairman at their open day in October. What we found was great, Sevenoaks Indoor Bowls is a club that provides friendship and sport for all generations and walks of life. Their fantastic facilities include an on-site restaurant, a well-appointed bar and an extensive list of social events to get involved with. We we would challenge anybody to have a go at this sport on Hollybush Lane and tell us they didn’t enjoy themselves immensely.
Indoor bowls is popular throughout Britain and in many other parts of the world, including as far afield as Malaysia. The game is played in a similar way to lawn bowls and although there are slight differences between the two, it is essentially an indoor version of the outdoor game. Indoors it is played on strips of replica green of a comparable length to lawn bowls.
So what makes it so popular? One of the attractions of indoor bowling is that it can be played by all ages, including men, women, juniors and seniors. People of all abilities can play, including wheelchair users and blind bowlers.
Most clubs would start juniors at aged nine-years-old, which is where the popular indoor bowl saying ’anyone can play aged 9 to 90’ comes from.
Like all team sports, players world-wide recognise that the sport brings certain benefits, such as learning rules, discipline and having a uniform. But it is not just about serious play; it is also a social game and offers a way to meet new people and make friends. And, like many sports, it is healthy too.
Open day is a wonderful experience
We were invited to try out the sport at the Hollybush Lane venue by Brenda Bennett, the Club Chairman, on their open day in October, and we weren’t disappointed with what we found. New bowlers of all ages were trying out this fascinating sport, which is so often linked with the older generation. A couple of young lads no older than ten, were simply enjoying being a part of something different with their dad’s and were busy chatting to the gentleman showing them the game.
We joined Brenda and her colleague Rosie for a couple of games on the rink and whilst playing we talked about the game itself before moving on to the club’s facilities and general warmth towards club members.
Brenda commented: “Few young people in Sevenoaks consider playing bowls as there is so much else to do, so we tend to target the more mature person or the sports person who is finding difficulty bouncing round a badminton or tennis court.”
“However, it is so easy to get hooked on bowls and the club is also a great place for friendships, modest exercise and it gets cosy and warm in the winter. The energetic social committee organise a variety of events.”
Brenda’s words highlight that the club is so much more than just getting together to play bowls, hosting several functions throughout the year for club members. At the start of October, TV presenter Laura Hamilton came to the club to talk about her life and career in television. Best known for her time on Channel 4’s ‘A Place in the Sun’, Laura spent time talking to the club members and having her photo taken.
The club has an extensive list of upcoming events, which include their annual Christmas Bazaar, held over three days from Saturday 11th November, a Murder Mystery evening, a Race Night and a Christmas Dinner Dance which is being held on Saturday 16th December.
Sevenoaks Indoor Bowls always like to welcome any new bowlers to pop along and have a go, if you like it then the club offer any prospective member the opportunity to play for four weeks for free before committing to join the club. Don’t think this sport is for the select few, we would encourage anybody to have a go at a sport that provides you with both a healthy outlook and a wonderful social scene too.
All you need to know about bowls:
The sport can be played as a serious competitive activity or just a friendly roll up and a social occasion to spend some time with like-minded folk.
There is no need to spend huge amounts of money as beginner. You can attend trial events/ coaching sessions using equipment supplied by the centre after which should you wish to play regularly, woods and equipment are always for sale second hand. The sport is played at all levels from casual to international and is a great way to remain active when the more physical sport is beyond us and for those who can still kick a football it can still be a second sport that requires tactics, skill and patience.
How is it Played?
A full-size rink is 40m long and 100m wide and much bigger than the space needed for short mat bowls, which uses a 45ft x 6ft carpet. The game can be played in singles, doubles, triples and there are also four player games. Its purpose is this: you must aim your bowling ball as near to the white ball (called the jack) as you can. The game starts with the toss of a coin and the lead player rolls the jack which is moved to the centre of the rink. Bowlers take it in turns. Once all the bowls have been played, each team gets a point for every bowl landing closer to the jack than their rival’s nearest ball. Once all the bowls have been played, the direction of play changes.
The Sport’s Rules
Any bowls ending at the ditch (the game boundary) are disqualified unless the bowl has touched the jack first.
If the jack rolls into the ditch, the game continues on unless the jack crosses the boundary to the side of the rink, which is out of bounds. If it does this, the player bowls again.
How is it Scored?
The scoring system depends on the type of competition. However, in most games the winner is declared the first player to score 21 points or the one that gets the highest points after 18 or 21.
Bowls Equipment & Clothing
If you are just starting out as a beginner player, you just need a minimum of equipment to play, so only bowls and shoes are required. However, bowling starter packs are available which are ideal for the beginner and will help get you on the right track.
Bowling is considered to be a healthy pastime not just for the physical involvement but it helps with offering involvement and contact with people for those who are elderly or live alone. It is a simple game but can also offer a challenge to acquire a high skill level.
If you want to know more about how you can get involved in this fascinating sport then you can contact the club directly via their website at www.sevenoaksindoorbowls.co.uk. Or if you would like to hire one of their suites, function rooms or the entire venue for private parties and meetings, then please contact the centre at firstname.lastname@example.org.