Muskoka To-DAILY

They dreamed of a Muskoka Lawn Bowling Club and July 8 that dream comes true

Mark Clairmont | MuskokaTODAILY.com

BRACEBRIDGE — “Dreams do come true.”

Muskoka Lawn Bowling Club members are on a roll.

Muskoka Lawn Bowling Club members are on a roll.

So says Richard Broad, president of Bowls USA, in a letter to the Muskoka Lawn Bowling Club in congratulating them on the opening of North America’s newest club.

“While we share your success from afar, know that we are envious of your achievement and will try to emulate it across the border.”

Lawrie and David Scott had that dream.

And this weekend it officially comes trues, even though the club has been unofficially up and running for about a month.

The grand opening of Muskoka Lawn Bowling Club is Saturday, July 8, from 1-4 p.m. at 1036 South Monck Drive, Bracebridge (on the grounds of the Muskoka Highlands Golf Course) just off Hwy. 118.

And a lot of people are bowled over by the achievement.

First piece of business. Note: Only flat-soled shoes (i.e. running shoes) are allowed on the green.

And white clothes optional, but not necessary.

Now on with the fun. Schedule of Events:

12:30 p.m.        Registration of speakers, guests and media in the clubhouse

bowler logo1 p.m.              Speakers:

Welcome from Sally Mills, President, Muskoka Lawn Bowling Club

Norm Miller, MPP

Richard Corcelli, Ontario Trillium Foundation Grant Review Team

John Klinck, Chair, District of Muskoka

Graydon Smith, Mayor, Town of Bracebridge

Ken Simpson, President, Ontario Lawn Bowling Association

1:45 p.m.          Parade to new lawn bowling facility, led by bagpiper John Bowser

1:50 p.m.          Photos with dignitaries rolling out the first bowls

1:55 p.m.          Friendly dignitaries’ competition, with prizes awarded

2 p.m.              Sally Mills, club president will officially open the lawn bowling green to the public.

And the Scotts will proudly be among the first to roll with it.

It's official - white is optional as far as attire for lawn bowling. Try these snazzy cap and jersey if you like, avaiable in the joint clubhouse with the Highlands Golf Club.

It’s official – white is optional as far as attire for lawn bowling. Try these snazzy cap and jersey if you like, avaiable in the joint clubhouse with the Highlands Golf Club.

They were members of the Markham Lawn Bowling Club prior to their arrival in Muskoka in 2005, and were looking for a facility where they could continue this enjoyable sport.

In 2009 they got the ball rolling. They approached the Town of Bracebridge regarding building a lawn bowling green and clubhouse.  A staff report from the Parkland, Trails & Recreation Committee found that a lawn bowling club would be well aligned with the community-based strategic plan objectives, but recommended that more support and interest must be shown form the community before the Town should consider this facility.

They put up notices around Bracebridge in order to gauge local interest, and in March 2010 the Bracebridge Examiner published an excellent article outlining their dream.  They quickly collected almost 200 interested parties, and the list continues to grow to this date.

In 2011, the club became incorporated as a non-profit, started a fundraising campaign,

Quotes:

“Having our own lawn bowling club makes this very social sport accessible to us, while contributing further to the quality of life all Muskoka residents enjoy,” said Peter Sale, Probus Bracebridge president.

Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Families, Children and Social Development add: “The Government of Canada is proud to support the Muskoka Lawn Bowling Club through the New Horizons for Seniors Program.  The Club’s Lawn Bowling project will give local seniors the opportunity to learn more about, and partake in, lawn bowling – an outdoor recreational activity that promotes both physical fitness and good cheer among participants.”

 

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT LAWN BOWLING:

 

What is the history of the sport?

Lawn bowling originated in England around the 12th century.  As with golf, the game of bowls owes its organized existence to the Scots.  In 1848 a “uniform code of laws” was drawn up in Scotland.  The first clubs in Ontario opened in the 1830’s.  There was a surge of popularity over the next 50 years, with over 300 clubs formed and flourishing by the 1930’s.  The former Bracebridge Lawn Bowling Club was alive and well in the 1920’s and 1930’s, and was located near the Bracebridge Public School.  The current Ontario Lawn Bowling Association dates to 1931.  For more information, see the display on the History of Lawn Bowling at the Grand Opening.

 

Do I have to wear white?

No, today lawn bowling clubs no longer follow this tradition.  Wear comfortable clothing of any colour.  Because our club is located on the grounds of the Muskoka Highlands Golf Course, we request that our members respect the golf course dress code, including a shirt with a collar.

 

Is it only for seniors?

Lawn bowling is suitable for any age from 9 to 99.  All ages and genders enjoy playing together.  We have junior bowls for small hands, which are used by anyone with strength limitations.

 

What does it cost?

Lawn bowling is a relatively inexpensive sport.  Adult membership fee is $150, youth is $75 due to the shortened 2017 season.  All equipment is provided for the first year.  All that you need to start is a pair of flat-soled shoes.

 

Who owns and operates the club?

The Muskoka Lawn Bowling Club is a non-profit, all-volunteer club.  The club leases land from the Muskoka Highlands Golf Course, and pays them for greens keeping maintenance.  There is an all-volunteer Executive Board that manages the club (as listed on muskokabowls.ca).  The club offers unique volunteer opportunities for members to get involved in the community.

 

Do I have to join as member to play?

The public may attend some special events, and the “Give it a Try” days.  Everyone must have some instruction before bowling.  The green can be easily damaged, and is expensive to maintain at an excellent standard.

 

Are there lawn bowling lessons?

Yes.  Non-members may register for our “Learn to Lawn Bowl” classes offered for two weeks starting July 10th for $60 at muskokabowls.ca, or through the Town of Bracebridge’s Leisure Guide.  When you join the club, the cost of the lessons may be deducted from your membership fee.  There will be skills clinics organized for members throughout the season.

The public may also attend one of our drop-in “Give it a Try” days offered through the summer for $20.  All equipment and instruction included.  Visit muskokabowls.ca for the schedule.

 

Can beginners bowl with experienced players?

Yes.  New bowlers are encouraged to join as many games as possible, and are encouraged to work with our accredited and experienced coaches.  New bowlers play in a position that suits their abilities, and work up to more challenging positions as they become a more confident and accomplished bowler.

 

I have mobility issues.  Can I still participate?

Most likely.  Thanks to a grant from New Horizons for Seniors, we have specialized equipment for those with mobility or strength limitations.  Smaller bowls, bowl lifters, and pusher sticks (similar to curling sticks) allow many people to participate fully with able-bodied lawn bowlers.  Unfortunately, due to the new grass, we are unable to allow wheel chairs on the green at this time.

 

When do you play?

Members will have full access to the facility at any time.  Tag draws will be organized for members 5 days/week, according to the schedule on muskokabowls.ca.  Tournaments and members-only events will be organized through the season.  In 2018, we plan on offering league play.

 

Why is it called “curling on grass”?

Lawn bowling rules and terminology are similar to curling, but without the sweeping…and the “house” (target) can move!  Curlers pick up lawn bowling very quickly, and make excellent bowlers.

 

Do I need special shoes or equipment?

All equipment is provided.  All that is required are flat-soled shoes.  Running shoes are acceptable.  Sorry, no golf shoes.

 

What are the rules?

Lawn bowling is easy to learn, but challenging to master.  The object of bowls is to roll your team’s bowls closer to the target than your opponent’s bowls.  Between setting up your scoring strategy and defending your points, there is always something changing in a game of bowls.  The advantage can flip in an instant with the added challenge of a moving target!

 

Are there any social events in the club?

Yes!  Lawn bowling is a very social sport.  Members gather in the clubhouse after games, and fun events will be organized throughout the season.

 

Can I bring my dog?

Sorry, no dogs allowed on the bowling green.

 

Are there tournaments?

Yes.  There will be fun tournaments throughout the season, as well as more competitive tournaments.  On September 10, 2017 we will be hosting our Inaugural Invitational Tournament sponsored by Muskoka Kia.

 

How long is the season?

May to October, depending on the weather.

 

Why lawn bowl?

Lawn bowling is the ultimate sport, as it combines skill of the game, the great outdoors, and social interaction.  Bowls appeals to young and old, men and women.  At the highest levels of the sport, lawn bowls requires fitness, endurance, flexibility, precision, touch, concentration, strategy, and a “wee bit of luck”.  Give it a try!

 

MUSKOKA LAWN BOWLING CLUB – FROM THE BEGINNING:

 

Lawrie and David Scott had a dream.  They were members of the Markham Lawn Bowling Club prior to their arrival in Muskoka in 2005, and were looking for a facility where they could continue this enjoyable sport.

In 2009 they got the ball rolling in Muskoka.  They approached the Town of Bracebridge regarding building a lawn bowling green and clubhouse.  A staff report from the Parkland, Trails & Recreation Committee found that a lawn bowling club would be well aligned with the community-based strategic plan objectives, but recommended that more support and interest must be shown form the community before the Town should consider this facility.

They put up notices around Bracebridge in order to gauge local interest, and in March 2010 the Bracebridge Examiner published an excellent article outlining their dream.  They quickly collected almost 200 interested parties, and the list continues to grow to this date.

In 2011, the club became incorporated as a non-profit, started a fundraising campaign, and researched grants.  $20,000 was raised, mostly in pledges.  It appeared that the new club wasn’t eligible for any grants, as the agencies would not support new construction. Unable to raise enough private donations and ineligible for government grants, the dream of lawn bowling in Bracebridge was off to a shaky start.

Sally Mills, the current President, accidentally learned in 2015 that the Ontario Trillium Foundation had changed their eligibility criteria.  OTF now supported new sport facilities, and had raised the maximum capital grant to $150,000.  Sally decided to make one more attempt to secure funding.

When Mills approached the Town of Bracebridge’s Recreation Department for advice and support, they were extremely helpful and enthusiastic, as the lawn bowling club fit with their goals for the community.  They offered assistance with programming, training volunteers, publicity, AND had extensive experience writing grants.  With their assistance, and the ideal location and cooperation offered from the Muskoka Highlands Golf Course, the grant application gained credibility and professionalism.

The Muskoka Lawn Bowling Club was thrilled to announce that they were advised in March 2016 that their application was successful, and would receive the maximum amount of $150,000 to build the lawn bowling facility in Bracebridge.   Now the real work to make the dream a reality began.

The club worked closely with contractor MJC Muskoka, along with landlord Don MacKay and the head greens keeper Nic Bell at the Muskoka Highlands Golf Links to build the green during the summer and fall of 2016.  The new green was seeded late in the fall of 2016, with fingers crossed that the green would be ready for play by July 2017.

The Muskoka Lawn Bowling Club received a second large grant for $25,000 from New Horizons for Seniors to purchase club equipment for bowlers and to offer Learn to Bowl programs for both adults and youth, in partnership with the Bracebridge Recreation Department.  These lessons will be offered to the public from July 10-20, 2017.

The new club has also been the grateful recipient of generous private donations, in-kind donations, and donated equipment from other lawn bowling clubs.  Many volunteers have been involved to bring Muskoka’s newest sport facility alive.

The Muskoka Lawn Bowling Club is very excited to finally be opening to the public on Saturday, July 8th at 1pm.  Everyone is invited to this joyous celebration, and to give lawn bowls a try.

It is expected that the Muskoka Lawn Bowling Club will be an important asset to the community.  Lawn bowling is a sport that can be played at your own pace in beautiful surroundings with engaging company.  It is a relatively inexpensive sport, appeals to all ages and abilities, and it is easy to get involved and make friends.  Come and give it a try.  You’ll be glad you did.

For more info on the Muskoka Lawn Bowling Club, phone 705-646-0086

Or email them at office@muskokabowls.ca

And visit their website www.muskokabowls.ca

 

 

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